A US magazine, PARADE, issued its annual List of the world’s worst dictators. The problem with the definition of dictators is that half of the listed “dictators” are puppets. The criteria used for listing dictators considers only those heads of states as dictators “who exercise arbitrary authority over the lives of his citizens and who cannot be removed from power through legal means.”
There is no contention with the listed dictators. The problem lies with the fact most of the listed dictators are puppets, who would not be there without the blessing of the “elected” and “democratic” dictators. These “democratic” dictators can definitely be removed through legal means, but their acts and rule is far more dictatorial and dangerous to the world peace than the listed dictators.
For example, none of the other dictators combined have committed far more terrible human rights abuses on international level than George Bush and Tony Blair. Yet they are not even considered in the category of dictators. What is important: the level and scope of crimes committed against humanity or simply the means to one’s or going out of power?
Of course, the list published in Parade draws in part on reports by global-human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, Reporters Without Borders and Amnesty International. But one wonders what happened to all the reports of these organizations on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay, Palestine, Chechnya and Kashmir. Which dictators is at fault of the abuse of human rights, civil war and mass killings in these places.
Many of the listed and unlisted dictators (e.g., Karzai in Kabul, Malaki in Baghdad) would not even be on the radar screen today if they were not fully supported by Bush, Blair and the rest of their allies. Suddan’s Omar al-Bashir is put in the first place for killing 180,000 civilians in Darfur in Western Sudan and displacing 2 million people from their homes. Compare this with the killings and displacement of people as a result of Bush and Blair’s war of aggression on the basis of lies.
Is it necessary that a dictatorial regime must always be run by just one dictator? What if dictators follow one after another through the so-considered legal means and popular elections? What if these seemingly democratically elected leaders act far worse than the listed dictators? Think of the successive Israeli heads of state, who have been committing ethnic cleansing for the past 60 years. Think of the successive US and UK leadership since the Gulf War II, for instance, who have taken lives of at least 1.8 million through the genocidal sanctions in Iraq alone. Why their rule should not be considered as dictatorial?
Islam Karimov, Musharraf, King Abdullah of Jordan, and Meles Zenawi of Eithopia, of course, are dictators. But who is supporting them? Who are sustaining them in power? Whose military forces are protecting Saudi Kingdom and Kuwaiti Sheikhdom? If not for the Western backing, these dictators cannot survive a single day in power.
Massacres of Karimov, illegal detentions of Musharraf and torturous security apparatus of King Abdullah are all acceptable only because they are claiming to be the best friends of the United States and U.K. and are fighting “radical Islamists.”
Validity of the effort is doubtful. The list seems to be politically motivated as well. Syed Ali Khamane’i of Iran is at ninth place, whereas dictator Musharraf is at number 17. There is no mention to the butchers of Algeria, fully supported by France and other Western governments. On the other hand, Castro is listed as a dictator only because he is not holding elections. There is no count of the country he invaded. There is no count of the lies he told to his people and the United nations. There is not count of his concentration camps. On the Cuban soil, the only concentration camp belongs to dictator Bush, not Castro.
The bottom-line is that irrespective of the titles, Bush remains dictator number one and Blair number two. It hardly matters if people are given a chance to protest in streets in millions before they go to launch wars of aggression. In the end, it is their decision that counts, not the will of the people. The co-opted media’s white washing crimes of these top dictators hardly makes them less dictatorial. Similarly, listing some puppets as dictators and ignoring their masters is the worst injustice Western analysts and organizations are doing to humanity.
A constructive role on the part of Parade magazine and other media outlets will be to place Bush and Blair on the top of their list of dictators and tell the truth as it is: almost half of the listed dictators will face the fate of Saddam Hussein at the hands of their people, provided the puppet-masters in London and Washington either leave the directly and indirectly occupied nations alone, or the super-dictators in UK and US are brought to justice by their respective nations for their crimes against humanity.
The title of Parade’s article about dictators reads: “Let’s not lose sight of those heads of state who terrorize and abuse the rights of their own people.” The question is, who is going to focus sights on those heads of state who terrorize, brutalize and massacre people of other nations, besides cheating and deceiving their own?