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Jerry Boykin: Who's Next?

Former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and Venezuelan dictator Nicholas Maduro
Army Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin (ret.) was present for the downfall of former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega and is now wondering which of the modern-day despots—North Korea's Kim Jong-un, Syria's Basha al-Assad or Venezuela's Nicholas Maduro—will fall. (Reuters photos)

Recently, Army Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin (ret.), vice president of the Family Research Council, noted the death of former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega and recounted the story of his involvement in the former strongman's downfall.

"Noriega surrendered to U.S. Special Operations Forces on the night of Jan 3rd, 1990 at the Vatican embassy in Panama City," he wrote on his Facebook page. "The Nunciature, or Vatican embassy, was his refuge from Christmas Eve until he surrendered.

"I was running the operation there at the Nunciature when Noriega surrendered and stood at the gates when he finally walked out and was escorted to an awaiting helo to be flown to Howard AFB in the Canal Zone, where he was to be transferred to a USAF plane for transport to U.S. soil.

"As I watched him come out of his "safe space" with the Papal Nuncio (Vatican ambassador) I thought about why this once powerful man was now in the custody of the same people that he had worked for and against, all at the same time. His pride, greed, carelessness and arrogance had lead [sic] to his downfall. Noriega 's quest for power and money ultimately alienated him from the people of Panama.

"Finally, he pushed American leadership too far and it promoted a swift and decisive response from the George HW Bush administration. That response was Operation Just Cause, which put 27,000 US troops into the country to protect the U.S. citizens there and to bring down Noriega, allowing the elected government to take its rightful place.

"So there I was with other Special Operations soldiers watching this foolish erstwhile dictator reach the end of the line. It was quite an experience for all of us who were there. Noriega never saw freedom again having been jailed in the U.S., France and Panama."

Upon reflection of Noriega's fate at the hands of President George H.W. Bush, Boykin then wondered which of the modern-day despots around the world might be the next to fall. Will it be Bashar al-Assad, or Kim Jong-un, or maybe Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro?

He concluded:

Noriega made the fatal mistake of underestimating the patience of a U.S. leader and he lost it all. I think that there are a few dictators in the world today who are headed down the same path. Donald Trump is not Barack Obama. He has a different outlook than his predecessor. It is only a matter of time until someone is going to miscalculate and suffer the consequences just as Noriega did.

I sincerely hope that it is not Kim Jong-un because the consequences could be very bad, just as Defense Secretary Jim Mattis recently pointed out. Not only will Kim lose control of his country but he will likely lose his life unless he has a clandestine way off the Korean peninsula. Sadly, lots of people will die, just as they did in Panama during Just Cause.


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