No. 483: "Hot Spots"
I'm not saying Noriega is the answer to the question; I'm just saying that in December 1989, when he bunked at the Papal Nuncio's place in Panama City, American troops tried to blast him out with rock 'n' roll. It took a Freedom of Information lawsuit, but the invaluable National Security Archive obtained the Army's SouthCom Network radio playlist of music requested by the troops for this purpose.
Some highlights from the musical parts of the After Action Report:
Canine handlers called asking for David Bowie, "Flesh for Fantasy" [sic], the Marine Corps Combat Security Company called saying they were going on a mission and needed a song to pump them up. The song was "Welcome to the Jungle" by Guns and Roses, a song which had been requested many times already. The Special Forces Combat Divers Team asked for several songs by the Doors, "Strange Days", "People Are Strange", "The End". The 82nd called from the Marriott Hotel, but not for a song. They did not have a phone books and needed a number on Albrook. We played a lot of songs with the word "jungle" in it as well as such songs as "God Bless the U.S. A." by Lee Greenwood, and "We're Not Gonna Take it" by Twisted Sister.
On 25 December we played Christmas music. The only requests we took were for Christmas music.
On 26 December the requests remained much the same as before the 25th. On 27 December someone who identified himself as a member or the PSYOPS team from Fort Bragg called to tell us what they were doing with their loud speakers. We already had reports on radio news as to what was happening. We had been receiving requests with a "musical message" for Noriega either by the words or the song title, but as soon as the media picked up on the story, those types of requests increased dramatically.
It is difficult to determine if the Noriega was brought to his knees by the sheer awfulness of the music (Billy Joel, Kenny Loggins, New Kids on the Block, Cher) or cowed by the formidable Americana arrayed against him (Bruce Springsteen, Chuck Berry, Martha and the Vandellas, Jimmy Hendrix).
You can decide for yourself and see the complete play list here.
Tyrant in Retirement Answer
Noriega is indeed the odd man out: He was kidnapped—sorry, captured—and taken from Panama; all the others fled to Panama, often with U.S. complicity. Think of it as not so much a country but a retirement home for CIA employees.
The most recent addition to the blood-soaked tyrant community is Vladimiro Montesinos, the cashiered former army captain who until Monday ran Peru's "intelligence service."
Montesinos, so close an associate of President Alberto Fujimori that the two were known as the Siamese twins, was brought down by a videotape showing him bribing an opposing member of Congress. Fujimori declared that he would hold new elections in which he himself would not participate and would "deactivate" Montesinos' dreaded National Intelligence Service. Saturday night, Monesinos and his bodyguards took off from a military airport in a private jet. The U.S. government joined several other nations in pressuring Panama to accept the fugitive.
Montesino, who entered Panama on a tourist visa—the country is lovely this time of year—is staying in the home of the Peruvian consul. He is thought to have no grounds for an asylum plea as he faces bribery charges, not political persecution, or did up until five minutes ago. Tuesday, the Peruvian prosecutor dropped the case, saying that the congressman had not yet been officially sworn in.
Randy Cohen used to write Slate's "News Quiz." His most recent book—oh, like you don't know.