I really liked what a friend of mine from the Netherlands had to say about dictators. Here’s what Lourens wrote:
Stories about ‘the killing fields’ are always fascinating to me. It shows what can happen when people or regimes (governments) claim that only they posses the ‘real truth’. Therefore we should ALWAYS question those who make that kind of claims. The difficulty is, however, that those claims are often in disguise, or seem so very logical at that moment. And then suddenly a mass movement has started. Those who question such a hype are ignored, discarded, put aside etc.
Hitler is the absolute example (now, afterwards). Pol Pot probably had believers at that time. People often trust their leaders and even willing to fight for them. The First World War was an incredible example. Soldiers driven into death by the thousands.
Dith Pran said it correctly (note: in case you forgot, Dith Pran is the Cambodia journalist who survived the genocide of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. He just passed away):
“If you didn’t think about the danger, it looked like a performance,” he said. “It was beautiful, like fireworks. War is beautiful if you don’t get killed. But because you know it’s going to kill, it’s no longer beautiful.”
It makes me wander in thoughts to Iraq, the modern killing fields. We were clearly misguided by our great leaders, who claimed their truth. I understand that Americans still might think different.