#2. The 5-Year-Old Boy Who Rolled His Eyes at Saddam Hussein
Getty Images/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
After invading Kuwait and taking several thousand Chinese, Russian, British, and American families hostage, Iraqi dictator, human rights abuser, and epic mustache rack Saddam Hussein was shocked to find that the world didn't have his back. Like a teenager on YouTube, Hussein's knee-jerk reaction was to film a hilariously staged video in a vain attempt to make himself look better. He attempted to prove to the world once and for all that these people weren't hostages -- why, just look at what a good time they're having! Take this little white boy, for example: Watch how eagerly he hops right up in Hussein's lap like he's the used-car salesman Santa Claus. Go ahead, boy, hop.
The Badass Moment:
Stuart Lockwood, the boy in question, displayed substantially less childish glee than the dictator was hoping for. Arms crossed, disdainful glare straight into the camera -- he does not play along.
What's 5-year-old for "Fuck you, motherfucker"?
It's a pretty killer moment for someone whose greatest accomplishment in life thus far was opting not to tuck his shirt into his shorts like some unnamed goofball.
Why Hussein decided to actually release that tape we'll never know (it's painfully obvious how staged the whole interaction is, and the stench of Stuart's stink eye lingers heavily over the proceedings), but the results were a disaster: The British government called Hussein's attempt at manipulation "contemptible," and he was forced to start releasing hostages. In December of 1990, all of Hussein's guests were finally set free, opening the way for military action in Iraq. Nothing bad ever happened there again.
#1. The Guy Who Threatened Stalin -- and Lived
via Balkan Inside
Joseph Stalin hated Josip "Tito" Broz like only a Russian maniac can hate. Tito was a Yugoslavian leader who allied with the Soviets during World War II, but relations between them went south after Tito got sick of Moscow pushing him around. He started running Yugoslavia the way he wanted -- something that messed with Stalin's self-styled status as supreme leader of the socialist world. To make a point, Stalin tried to have Tito killed, but it didn't take. So he tried again.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
"And if you fail, killer 22, I will send 21 incompetent assassins after YOU!"
The Badass Moment:
Eventually, Tito got tired of swatting down assassination attempts like weak-ass volleyball serves. He wrote Stalin a letter, saying, "If you don't stop sending killers, I will send one to Moscow. And I won't have to send a second."
Tito was a veteran of both world wars, and he even married a fellow soldier. A few assassination attempts don't faze a guy like that: His own impending mortality was probably like a comfortable robe for Tito. We're betting he sent that letter with a big shit-eating grin on his face.
Written on the back of this.
Stalin kept that letter on his desk until the day he died. We'd like to think it was out of admiration for a worthy adversary, but no, it was likely more of that high-grade Russian maniac hate. Stalin kept right on workshopping new ways to assassinate Tito, with plans ranging from plague-soaked tuxedos to sniper rifles that emit tear gas -- right up until his death in 1953. Tito outlived Stalin by 27 years, causing some to wonder if he did, in fact, finally make good on that threat.
Eric Yosomono writes about surviving Japan and you can read about his adventures at Gaijinass.com.
Related Reading: Not all men in power turn out to be murderous despots. One president used his power to advance a mediocre music career. That's pretty impressive when you consider most dictators can't even manage Photoshop. Not had enough of nutjobs in power? Click here.