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Friday, January 27, 2006
Dictators on Parade...

Anyone see this? Parade magazine - which isn't really a magazine by the way, it's really just an insert in the Sunday paper - last Sunday had their "Annual List of The World's 10 Worst Dictators." You can find the list and accompanying "article" here, but here's the skinny on the top 20:

1. Omar al-Bashir, Sudan, in power since 1989, last year's rank: 1
2. Kim Jong-il, North Korea, in power since 1994, last year's rank: 2
3. Than Shwe, Burma, in power since 1992, last year's rank: 3
4. Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe, in power since 1980, last year's rank: 9
5. Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan, in power since 1990, last year's rank: 15
6. Hu Jintao, China, in power since 2002, last year's rank: 4
7. King Abdullah, Saudi Arabia, in power since 1995, last year's rank: 5
8. Saparmurat Niyazov, Turkmenistan, in power since 1990, last year's rank: 8
9. Seyed Ali Khamane'i Iran, in power since 1989, last year's rank: 18
10. Teodoro Obiang Nguema, Equatorial Guinea, in power since 1979, last year's rank: 10
11. Muammar al-Qaddafi, in power since 1969, last year's rank: 6
12. King Mswati III, Swaziland, in power since 1986, last year's rank: 11
13. Isayas Afewerki, Eritrea, in power since 1993, last year's rank: 17
14. Alexsandr Lukashenko, Belarus, in power since 1994, last year's rank: 12
15. Fidel Castro, Cuba, in power since 1959, last year's rank: 13
16. Bashar al-Assad, Syria, in power since 2000, last year's rank: 14
17. Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan, in power since 1999, last year's rank: 7
18. Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia, in power since 1995, last year's rank: unranked
19. Boungnang Vorachith, Laos, in power since 2001, last year's rank: 20
20. Tran Duc Luong, Vietnam, in power since 1997, last year's rank: 19

Now not that Parade is a stalwart of hard journalism, but this is not a bad list (bad people, but not a bad list of bad people).

A few comments:

- Big moves by Bobby Mugabe, Islam Karimov and Sayed Khamane'i. Shows what you can accomplish if you really apply yourself.

- I'll bet Kim Jong-il is pissed he's number 2 again this year. He just might hold his breath until they re-consider.

- Qaddafi drops out of the top 10 - who'd a thunk it?

- King Mswati of Swaziland has been in power since 1986, and he's only 37. I wish I had my own dictatorship when I was 17 - think of how easy it would be to pick up chicks! And where the heck is "Swaziland" anyway? It sounds like the name of Patrick Swayze's amusement park.

- Fidel at 15? If there's 14 worse dictators out there, they is some pretty bad folks.

- Musharraf drops a full 10 slots to number 17. That's what you get for cooperating with the great Satan.


Ok, so Swaziland is a small dirty, hot country, but at least the king has a few perks: See story below
The problem with this list is that never really changes countries, and that is good and bad.
Sudan, North Korea, Burma(got the t-shirt), Zimbabwe(t-shirt), Saudi Arabia(t-shirt x3), Guiema(t-shirt), Pakistan(t-shirt, although not admitted too), Cuba(GTMO t-shirt), Ethiopia(size small), and thats it.
I like this kind of list. It reminds me of why it is important for rough men to do violence on the behalf of others, so that they sleep peacefully. Wish we did more of it.
That's a nice collection Mark. Nothing from Swaziland? That's seems like one rockin' place. Check out that link above from the arch duke (here it is for the more lazy among us).

A couple more thoughts on the list:

- damn that glass ceiling, when will we see a woman on this list?

- I'm sure I heard the brilliant Harry Belafonte refer to President Bush as "the worst dictator on the planet," how is it he didn't make the list?
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