Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Parade names top 20 dictators for 2007

It's that time of year again. Parade Magazine, best known as the worthless fluff insert in your Sunday newspaper, has released its top 20 list of dictators for 2007 (viewable here). Without giving too much away, this year's "winner" is the same as last year's winner: Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir - a decision based primarily on his country's notoriety in the ongoing Darfur disaster.

Looking over the list, author David Wallechinsky and I are more or less in agreement over the composition of the top 10. I would quibble with the inclusion of Chinese premier Hu Jintao at #4, as China is a party dictatorship, not a personal one. I might also be inclined to quibble about the choice of Iranian "Supreme Leader" Ayatollah Ali Khamenei at #3. While he is invested "for life" and has sweeping powers at his disposal, the Iranian constitution has offset many of these powers to the President (ie, his loathsome toady, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad). I won't quibble that he qualifies as a dictator, but his profile is certainly too low to qualify for the third spot (compare Khamenei's low public profile with that of his predecessor, for example). He belongs on the list, but ahead of Pervez Musharraf and Robert Mugabe?

The final problem is one of omission, perhaps indicative of David Wallechinsky's own politics: the glaring absence of the world's longest reigning dictator, Fidel Castro. Vladimir Putin makes the cut at #20 while Castro is nowhere to be found? Inexplicable. I will give Wallechinsky the benefit of the doubt and assume he did not include Castro because he has temporarily ceded power to his brother, or because he assumes the old man will croak in 2007. Either way, this is not an omission that can easily be explained.

While I look forward to Parade's annual listing, I cannot understand why such an utterly trivial publication is the only place to find this annual round up of the world's top dictators. Given that much, if not most, of the world's international news and crises, involve totalitarian regimes, one would expect weightier publications to publish this list. I also can't figure out why a relative journalistic lightweight like Wallechinsky has taken it upon himself to compile this list, but I suppose someone has to do it.

1 comment:

muebles en cuenca said...

Well, I don't really suppose this is likely to have effect.