History is jam packed with people from all disciplines that have made their mark on our lives. Some we recognise as household names, others have left a legacy that is simply subsumed into everyday life and we never give them a second thought but I often wonder what would have happened if certain people had lived longer or if people whose lives were cut cruelly short continued their particular cause. Here are 7 people who shouldn’t have been assassinated and maybe an idea of how things would have been different if they’d been around for longer.
1. Mahatma Gandhi
The man who united an oppressed, divided nation to gain independence from the British Empire was shot in January 1948 by Nathuram Godse, a Hindu Nationalist. Even though he was a good age when he died he was still active in trying to ensure the partition of independent India passed peacefully, which in fact it never did. It’s hard to imagine what he would have done in his later years and how he would have reacted to the changes in post-WWII India.
2. John F. Kennedy
Famously shot dead by Lee Harvey Oswald in December 1963, JFK must be the most famous president and there were quite a few notable events during his tenure including the Bay of Pigs Invasion, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Space Race, the building of the Berlin Wall and the African American Civil Rights Movement and the start of the Vietnam War. Having defeated Richard Nixon for the Presidency my question is not so much what JFK would have done if he had lived but what if Nixon had been elected instead? For example, Nixon was the president responsible for ending US involvement in Vietnam. If he had been president in 1960, would the US position been different?
3. Anwar Sadat
The 3rd President of Egypt is definitely one on the list of people who shouldn’t have been assassinated as he was in October 1981. After leading his country through various conflicts with Israel including the Yom Kippur War in 1973, he was a hero in Egypt but then he was instrumental in brokering peace for which he was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. If Sadat had lived would Mubarak have become president and would Egypt have gone through the turmoil and protests of the last few months that resulted in his deposition and exile?
4. Leon Trotsky
One of the leaders of the Russian Revolution, Trotsky was assassinated on the orders of Stalin in Mexico in 1940. He was totally opposed to Stalin’s policies and the latter obviously thought him a threat enough to have him murdered. To me the obvious question is, if he had lived, would Trotsky have been able to return to the Soviet Union and raise enough support to depose Stalin and so alter the course of world history for the next 50 years?
5. Martin Luther King
The noted civil rights leader is certainly one of the people who shouldn’t have been assassinated. Murdered in April 1968 he never lived to see the election of the first black American president. If he had lived would he have pre-empted Barack Obama?
6. Benazir Bhutto
Named as one of the United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights, Bhutto was assassinated in December 2007 on her return to Pakistan to stand as opposition in the General Election. I’m not qualified to cast an opinion on what would have happened if she had stayed alive. Maybe she’d have won the election but would she have been able to do anything about the country that is allegedly the training ground for the world’s terrorists.
7. Archduke Franz Ferdinand
Most people would assume that the Archduke should be included on any list of people who should not have been assassinated but, agreed, his murder did trigger the 1st World War but it was really just the straw that broke the camel’s back. If he had lived, would Europe still have plunged itself into the madness that killed 9 million people? Actually, probably yes. The imperialistic powers were all at loggerheads for the preceding years and it was always going to come to a head.
You may think there are some notable omissions from the list of people who shouldn’t have been assassinated but whilst their passing may have been a sad loss for the world at the time of their death would things have been different if they’d stayed around for longer? Had Abraham Lincoln reached his pinnacle? Would John Lennon have written any more songs to even come close to the genius that is Imagine? Would Michael Collins have been able to precipitate a better transition to Irish home Rule or if the assassination of Juvénal Habyarimana had failed would the Rwandan Genocide still have been the result?
Have I missed anyone who you think would have bettered the world if they’d not been assassinated?
Top Photo Credit: cliff1066™