Being close to Africa, in a country many would include in discussions about that continent, one is more aware of the politics of the region. News headlines, which normally go ignored, are considered. For example, I noted that the United States has announced (and is being criticised for) sending military aid to many African countries, some of which are dictatorships. Many foresee the inciting of crosses like those currently befalling countries on a band from Afghanistan to Libya. The last thing this part of the world needs is more weapons, but these are fertile grounds for the production of profits for weapons manufacturers.
Contrasting the American approach is the way the Chinese are “attacking” Africa. For years, they have been offering economic aid and trade credits to many countries. They are building infrastructure on fertile ground for non-lethal Chinese industries. Of course, they are benefiting Chinese companies, but the natives are gaining jobs, roads, airports, schools, etc.
Guess which nation has the better image….except with dictators…
Have you noticed that the word “terrorist” has become the go-to, all-purpose title to hang onto anyone a politician or leader feels should be maligned. The only threat is to the politician’s own reputation, so an appropriate amount of mud must be slung to fool the masses.
A current case in point is the leader of Turkey. Some citizens are complaining about the last trees in the one remaining park in Istanbul being cut down to make way for a Jewish-owned (irrelevant, but interesting fact) shopping center. The prime minister has called these citizens “terrorists” and “foreign agitators”. Of course, foreign media are also criticized for making him look bad, when they report what is actually happening and explain the true reason for civil unrest in a country he wants to rule with an iron hand.
His reaction displays typical signs of a paranoid dictator...or an insecure elected politician.
A photo in today’s London Telegraph sparked a thought. It showed “Prince” Charles and Diana leaving the church on their wedding day. He wore a flashy military uniform with all sorts of decorations, earned for some bogus feats and used to impress the gullible.
If one is honest, this is no different than the antics of The Young Un posing with the North Korean military. Each government is attempting to promote the “leader” of the nation as a military personality. As anyone knows, a uniform with lots of medals or a brandished firearm is a sure sign of leadership quality. Just look at Gaddafi, Idi Amin, Shah of Iran, etc...
It has been difficult to avoid (what are considered by some to be) gruesome photos of a man whose ghastly photos too frequently tarnished the media for the past 40 years. It has also been just as difficult to avoid headlines screaming criticism of the media for showing the photos (of the dead man, not while he was alive, which I found just as disturbing).
I will be happy when all photos, stories, and mentions of this loathsome character disappear from all media, discussion, and memory.
There may be several other loathsome characters abusing their nation and people, but none were so unpleasant to look at. Fortunately, democratic leaders must pass some sort of “beauty” contest. Some may not be attractive, but none is loathsome.
I knew this, but many probably wonder why dictators can stay in power or why good men get voted out of office in a democracy. You can get the basic answer from the article, without wasting money and time on the book.
This is a hot topic lately. Seems like a bunch of folks are upset about one or the other iron-fisted ruler. The problem is: most are not very good. Oh, they get oppression right, but don't quite fool all the people all the time.
I want to be a dictator. But, I won't settle for some pissant (Lyndon Johnson's word, not mine) country. I set my sights higher...as any self-respecting dictator should. Alexander the Great did. Julius Caesar did. Genghis Kahn did. Hitler...oops.
Anyway, if I ruled THE WORLD, things would be different. First of all, I would knock a few religious heads together. That would solve more than half the squabbles currently raging on this planet. It's not that different religious fight one another; there are disagreements between believers of every brand of weird conviction. Anyone can have whatever religion they want: they will not be allowed to try to cram it done the throat of others, exploit the weak and stupid, or collect money by promising some form of foolishness. Next, I would take all the toys away from the military. Only virtual combat would be permitted. (There has to be some outlet for all that male aggression!). I am not a pacifist: I'm too realistic. But, there should be some way to cut down on the killing. Maybe, I'll simply shut down weapons manufacturers...
I would not plunder the economy to support a lavish lifestyle. That seems to upset the poor people. I'm not greedy and realize that such personal sacrifice is unique in the annals of dictatorship, but I think that "my" people will appreciate the gesture. Having reached the upper level of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, I am content with less. Of course, I will need a PA to answer the phone. Few will have my number, but even those calls will disturb my tranquility. I won't collect houses, like John McCain, because I am happy to stay in hotels. It's not asking much, because I currently stay in nice hotels.
Image is important, but a dictator can change the rules. Not being photogenic, I would not plaster my face on billboards or erect statues. I like the Wizard of Oz Method: hid behind a screen and spout wisdom. I would take one step back and communicate to "my" people through the written word (like I'm doing now).
In a moment of deep introspection, I have come to the conclusion that I have the ideal personality traits to be the perfect dictator: empathy (believe it or not), compassion (ditto), generosity (just ask my spoiled kids), common sense, cynicism (important to fend off sycophants, which tend to gather like pilot fish around a whale), and a bunch of other positive traits (a dictator expects people to accept his word). As dictator, I can command that my negative traits and habits are ignored. rationalized, or blamed on others.
On the first day, I would go after hypocrites, smokers, selective radio and television blowhards, some politicians...
On second thought, ruling the world may be more than I'm willing to take on at the moment. C'est domage for the world!
Today, to "walk like an Egyptian" means avoiding water cannons, rubber bullets, and tear gas canisters.
Cleopatra must be turning in her grave...and not because Hollywood is planning another biopic. Or is she in a pyramid?
If you look at history, the poor woman has been like a chicken on a spit. Descendants and foreigners have given her so many reasons to spin. Ancient history is a bit fuzzy, but the English definitely took over the country and shipped all its artifacts to museums in London. At some point, her descendants got around to kicking out the colonialists...or did they ask them to leave...or did they run out of money? Doesn't matter, because by that time, the Americans had become interested in sticking their nose into Egyptian affairs and giving them a lot of money. Something about a canal, which the English had used to ship plunder home from India: it was needed to move oil in one direction and freighters full of cash to King Saud in the other.
Contentment with having an Egyptian tyrant in her own mold was disturbed by having to listen to jokes in 1967 about the army having tanks with one forward and four reverse gears. They must have been bought from Italy, continuing a long history of collusion with Rome.
The ascendancy of the current military dictatorship afforded her three decades of non-rotation. She must have been gratified to see how it maintained the poverty level of the people at one she recognized. Of course, she was miffed about the Muslim thing, since she was descended from the Sun and could not tolerate competition.
Presently, she spins on her spit, waiting...like the rest of humanity...to see how the United States will respond....
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.