Dave Stancliff/For the Times-Standard
Posted: 02/27/2011 01:30:34 AM PST
Hello, America, and welcome to “Name That Dictator.” I'm your host today and with that, let's get started:
1. Name seven of America's Favorite Dictators worldwide. Remember the amount of money we pour into their economies is a big measuring stick.
U.S. Taxpayer: “I'd have to say King Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz of Saudi Arabia; Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan; Paul Biya of Cameroon; Teodoro Obiange Nguema of Equatorial Guinea; Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia; Gurbanguly Berdymuhammedov (or Berdymukhamedov) of Turkmenistan; and Idriss Derby of Chad.”
Fantastic! You got them all. You correctly named the countries we're happily sinking billions of dollars into regardless of their stance on freedom or human rights. You guessed right that democracy is secondary to getting what we want from dictators whose countries are strategic to us.
2. Name five of the World's Worst Dictators. Take a moment because you have about 50 (give or take) to choose from. We do business with most of them.
U.S. Taxpayer: “I'm going with Hu Jintao of China; Kim Jong-Il of North Korea; Muammar al-Qaddafi of Libya; Hosni Murbarak of Egypt; and Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan, whose nasty little pastime of boiling his political opponents to death makes him a must pick.”
I'm sorry! Looks like you are not keeping up with world events. Hosni Murbarak was recently hounded out of power by the Egyptian people, and Muammar Qaddafi is on borrowed time after declaring war upon the people of Libya.
3. Here comes another tough question, so pay attention: Of the African dictators, whose life seems a parody of the dictator genre? Hint, Peter Maas said this about him.
U.S. Taxpayer: “I'm leaning toward Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia, but my gut instinct says Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea.”
Is that your final pick?
U.S. Taxpayer: (pause) “Yes ... I'm going with Teodoro.”
Even more dramatic pause. You're correct! Congratulations! That was a secret bonus question and you're getting double points! Are you ready for the next question?
U.S. Taxpayer: “Sure, let's roll. It's only my money we're talking about.”
4. Name the dictators who rule the following countries: Belarus, Swaziland, and Syria.
U.S. Taxpayer: “OK ... I know the answers. Aleksandr Lukashenka for Belarus, King Mswati III rules Swaziland, and Sayyid Ali Khamenei for Syria. Wait a moment! I'd like to change Syria to Bashar al-Assad in charge.”
The clock stops ticking and the bell goes off! You did it again! You're correct-a-mondo. Let's wrap this game up with the final question of the day: How many countries practice capitalism? This is a tricky question so think before you answer.
U.S. Taxpayer: Let's see ... 15, no 52, no ... 189?
Is that your final answer?
U.S. Taxpayer: Yes it is ... 189.
Buzzers blare! I'm sorry, but that's wrong. Capitalism is an economic policy. It's not a political system and it relies on little government control. Just about every country in the world practices a version of capitalism.
This game show host is still amazed to find any taxpayer who knows as much as you've answered today. Thank you for participating. America has looked the other way for decades as these dictators looted their countries, and it's important the public should know that.
Most Americans probably couldn't name three dictators we do business with on a regular basis. You know why? Because the corporate media doesn't talk about dictators unless world events force them to. Like Egypt, for example. How many Americans were aware it was ruled by an oppressive dictatorship? Look at Libya's mad dictator Qaddafi slaughtering his own people because they want freedom.
“Capitalism is freedom -- and freedom leads to prosperity,” according to Capitalism Magazine. The idea being you can determine levels of capitalism by looking at a country and the rights its citizens enjoy.
It's inescapable; the dictators we do business with are not “good” capitalists by that standard. Does it matter? We need to get that straight if we expect the rest of the world to believe our message of democracy and freedom for all.
As It Stands, if we don't want to appear hypocritical we should re-examine our relationships with the world's dictators.