‘Et tu Brute’, the Shakespearean expression, has become synonymous for treachery and betrayal from near and dear ones, and history is littered with incidents where for power, money or love, humans have stooped low to achieve their objectives by deceit. And they have not forgotten or forgiven. Here we compile a list of top 10 people who are remembered for stabbing their benefactors, friends or lovers in the back. The list is compiled keeping in mind the ultimate betrayal Julius Caesar faced at the hands of Brutus.
As it happens in many Hollywood classics, an Army General conspires with his fellow men to take over the reins of a nation, keeping the civil leadership in the country in total darkness. General Pervez Musharraf betrayed his Prime Minister and ordered his soldiers to cross the line of control, that too at a time when Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was making serious efforts to secure Indo-Pak peace. Taking the betrayal to the next level, he overthrew a civilian government, putting Indo-Pak peace talks to an rest for many years to come.
Jane Fonda, Hollywood actress and an activist who, in 1972, claimed that American Prisoners of War in Communist led North Vietnam, were being treated very humanely. Even on learning that the PoWs were actually being tortured, she stood by her claim and devoid of any patriotism denied that any atrocities were committed on the American war prisoners. When the actress returned to USA, no punishment was handed out to her for her outrageous observations made on the Vietnam War. Later, though Fonda retracted her claims, but the impression of betraying one’s nation at a time when it was most vulnerable stuck on with the actress personally long after.
Hollywood blockbuster film Schindler’s List did attempt to refurbish the image of this Nazi German who helped more Jews than anyone else could during the World War II. But doubts have been cast on his role as someone who at personal risk saved over 1200 Jews during the Holocaust. It has been alleged that he was an opportunist industrialist and profited from the German war machines. This doubt on his intention behind saving the Jews looms like a shadow on the impeccable image cut out by Steven Spielberg.
It was one of the longest manhunts in human history spanning 10 years, but fugitive Osama bin Laden – the Al Qaeda terrorist responsible for 9/11 – would not have been hunted down had not Dr. Shakil Afridi helped CIA track down the most wanted man. Osama bin Laden’s crusade against America had turned him into a hero in the Islamic world but after the assassination mission succeeded in gunning him down on May 2, 2011, information leaked out that it was Afridi who helped the Americans get their target. He was locked up in a prison in Pakistan. Having lost out on friends and enemies, Afridi’s case is being treated as one who has betrayed a brother Muslim.
Brutus must have moved in his grave when Mir Jafar betrayed Siraj-ud-Daula, the Nawab of Bengal. Mir Jafar was a highly ambitious person who had risen to head of the army of Bengal, when the Mughal Empire in India was in decline. Jafar’s ambitions were on securing the Bengal throne with the help of British colonists who had secured a foothold on the Indian sub-continent by 1757. At one of the most critical battles – the Battle of Plassey which subordinated a whole nation to two centuries of colonial rule – Mir Jafar and his troops sad idly, while the British forces battled the armies of Siraj-ud-Daula. Jafar’s treachery and Daula’s defeat in the battle cost India dearly.
Dona Marina was born into an Aztec family in Central America and was taken as a slave by Spanish colonists who were expanding their domain after the continent had been discovered. Dona was taken as a mistress by Hernan Cortes, the Spanish colonist who founded much of today’s Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. Dona not only cozied up to Cortes but also acted as a translator of Nahuatl into Mayan language for him. The Spanish conquerors who did not understand Nahuatl were able to decipher it after it was translated into Mayan. Native Aztec people have not forgiven Dona Marina till date for having betrayed her own during a difficult phase in their history.
A high ranking British intelligence officer turning out to be a double agent and defecting to the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War is a case not easily forgotten in British and US intelligence networks. As an officer of the Order of the British Empire from 1946 to 1965, Philby’s activities were directly monitored by Joseph Stalin, the Soviet Union dictator. Working in Central and Eastern Europe with the task of fostering Ukrainians to stir-up anti-Soviet Revolutions, he was familiar with plans and operational details of MI6, the British intelligence service. Philby being a double agent came into light when he was replaced by the first British-sponsored team of Albanian agents in Albania. Around twenty agents were attacked within few hours after reaching there, out of which four were killed.
Americans hold Benedict Arnold, a general who fought in the American War of Independence, as a traitor who betrayed the cause by playing into the hands of British colonists. With the rank of a General, Arnold as part of American Continental Army was given the task of defending West Point Fort, New York in 1779, but holding a grudge with others in the same army, he opened negotiations with the British army for surrendering the strategic fort. After the plan was exposed in 1780, Arnold defected to the British forces and was commissioned as a brigadier general. Brutus must have been rocked in hell!
Marshal Petain was a French military hero of World War I but had the dubious distinction of being convicted for treason in the aftermath of World War II. It was after Germany defeated France early in World War II and occupied much of the country that Marshal Petain’s true colours came out. On being appointed premier of occupied France, Petain established a Fascist-oriented government at Vichy in central France and signed an armistice with Nazi Powers. The Vichy collaboration with Nazi Germany led to the passing of a notorious anti-Semitic law under which French and Eastern European Jews were deported to the infamous concentration camps.
Maybe Brutus couldn’t have done what Jim West did. As a member of House of Representatives, West was in the forefront of anti-homosexuality lobby. Not only was he vocal but firmly did back a bill that was to ban gay people from working in schools, day care centres and state agencies. A chance discovery in 2004 about West figuring on a gay dating website, gave the man away. Soon newspapers were splashing the story on front pages with many boys coming forward to claim being seduced by him in office and other places. West’s career as a lawmaker is a case of having betrayed the secret community to which he belonged.