Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Looking back

As Dictators of the World wraps up its first year, what were the hottest trends among the world's autocrats in 2006?


This was the year when a number of former dictators found themselves in prison and/or awaiting trial to account for crimes committed during their time at the top. Among those finding themselves in the lockup were Hossein Mohammed Ershad, Juan Maria Bordaberry, Slobodan Milosevic, and Saddam Hussein. Milosevic and Hussein, of course, met unhappy ends (see photo) after their arrests, with Milosevic dropping dead in a plushy jail cell in the Netherlands, and Saddam, well, just plain dropping to his death. Which leads us to the next hottest trend for 2006.


It has been said that autocrats are a dying breed, and 2006 certainly lent some truth to this observation. Aside from the aforementioned former dictators of Serbia and Iraq, the world rid itself of some notorious tyrants in 2006, such as deposed Paraguayan strongman Alfredo Stroessner, former Chilean brasshat Augusto Pinochet, and Turkmenistan's legendary Saparmurat "Turkmenbashi" Niazov. Of all of this year's dead dictators, only Turkmenbashi kicked the bucket while still in power. Even Fidel Castro, while not quite dead yet, appears to be ready to shuffle off this mortal coil. To think that "President for Life" used to mean something once upon a time.


It's hard to call this a trend, but some dictators are determined to hang in there come hell or high water. Kim Jong-Il, Robert Mugabe, Bashar al-Assad, Aleksandr Lukashenko and the seemingly immortal Omar Bongo among many others have all managed to stay in power for yet one more year. Call it statesmanship, call it devotion to their profession, call it sheer luck, but most of the world's remaining dictators are digging in their claws and attempting to hang on for dear life. After all, wasn't Saddam Hussein considered invincible after his previous confrontations with his enemies? Food for thought.

We don't know what 2007 will bring for the world's dictators yet, but whatever happens, you will certainly be reading about it right here.

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