Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Yes, we're still here.

I apologize for falling somewhat behind on DotW. I've been busy out there in the real world, and should have time for blogging again very soon.

As for dictator news, it's all Pervez Musharraf all the time lately, isn't it? I don't have very much to add on the man himself, but I'm certainly bemused by the editorial spin that paints the man as a creature of the Bush administration. Perhaps people have forgotten that America has, and forever will, back whichever dictator is holding the reins in Pakistan?

Monday, November 12, 2007

King Juan Carlos of Spain to Hugo Chávez: "Just shut up"

Someone forgot to tell Hugo that "fascist" is a real word with a real meaning in Spain, and who better to remind him than the king?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Who's hot? Who's not?

HOT: Pervez Musharraf (Pakistan)

The general has been down so long, that anything looks like up to him. So when Musharraf declared martial law this week, even his innumerable enemies had to concede that Musharraf still has enough political juice to be reckoned with. Is the state of emergency a desperate move to retain power? Will his bizarre assault on Pakistan's judges and lawyers capture the imagination of the public? Will the scolding by the United States help, or harm his reputation with Pakistan's intransigent intelligence services?

He's got nowhere to go but down from here, but for today? The man is red hot.

NOT HOT: Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe)

At long last, the world is getting ready for a Zimbabwe without Robert Mugabe. At 83 years old, he no longer has the energy or political will to keep control of the ruling ZANU-PF party. Could anyone have imagined five years ago that the ZANU-PF leadership would be talking about ousting Mugabe in a coup d'etat? Of course not. Mugabe's pitiful plans to run for re-election one more time are looking more and more like the pleas of a tired old man to go out on top. We're betting he'll be out long before the 2008 elections.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

When You Wish Upon A Dictator

You may have all noticed by now that most dictators are very, very fond of commissioning ridiculous, self-aggrandizing monuments. from Nicolae Ceauşescu's absurd Palace of the Parliament, the North Korean Kim dynasty's comically disastrous Rygyong Hotel, and Turkmenbashi's insanely creepy Rukhnama monument, dictators generally like to think big and expensive when scattering their legacy across the countryside.

So I was surprised to see how Kazakh dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev has bucked the trend by insisting on a more modestly sized project in the former capital of Almaty, ethereally called The Wishbook. The monument is a bronze memorial, ostensibly celebrating Kazakhstan's independence from the Soviet Union, and is graced with an imprint of Nazarbayev's own palm. It is said that anyone who puts his or her hand in the imprint will be granted a wish, doubtlessly due to the magical, nay, mystical all-seeing benevolence of Nursultan Nazabayev himself. The original Wishbook was recently stolen by scrap metal thieves, but the government managed not only to replace it in near record time, but have posted police to guard the monument around the clock to make sure thieves don't make off with the wishes of an entire country.

Perhaps it was vanity that prompted Nazarbayev to recreate the magic of The Wishbook, so he commissioned another similar monument for the country's new capital, Astana. Located at the top of the city's tallest building, The Padishah's Egg also features an imprint of Nazarbayev's palm, and will also grant wishes - but with a twist: the monument will play the Kazakh national anthem to confirm that the wish will be granted, and will only do so for "worthy" supplicants. When visiting Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin fondled The Padishah's Egg, the anthem dutifully played, indicating that his wish would soon be forthcoming. When a Kazakh government apparatchik on the losing end of an internal power struggle did the same, the monument remained uncomfortably and unmistakably silent - as if Nazarbayev himself were watching.

Frankly, if I had the chance, I'd wish that Nazarbayev would take a long, one-way camel trip into the middle of the desert, but what wish would you want Nursultan Nazarbayev to grant you, Dictators of the World readers?

UPDATE: Josh at Registan.net knows what he'd ask Uncle Nazzy for: more giant yurts!