the whole saddam thing has brought up the question…just what exactly do we do with the rest of the worlds dictators?of course we cant hope to live in utopia but there must be something we can do! sanctions arent working, bullying isnt either and isolationism is sooo last century. what do we do about Mugabe, Kim, Saddam and the rest?

The UN should roll up its sleeves and have at them, diplomatically if possible, by force if not, one by one, even those without any oil. Add Israel and Russia (over Chechnya), to that list.

I am what what many would describe as an armchair interventionist, advocating military action where it can reasonably be assumed that it will do some good.

Unfortunately, I would be unsurprised to find that only the most extreme circumstances warranted such an assumption, such as those in your country a decade ago. Dictators can be so firmly entrenched and oblivious to their own people’s suffering that regime change can entail more suffering than that caused by the regime itself.

An International Criminal Court where world leaders could be tried in absentia, leading to them effectively becoming prisoners in their own country if found guilty, would be a step forwards.

Are all dictatorships bad?
Are all democracies good?




Very good question. Unfortunately one first has to define “we” (UN, NATO, “The West”, etc) and then yoiu have to define “dictator” (Saudi Arabia, China, etc). The UN would spend the next 1000 yrs debating those questions.

I believe the US needs to look at each case individually. As much as might want, morally, to “liberate” some countries and “free” the people there, it makes no sense to do so unless the interests of the US are at stake. People living under dictatorships should learn from what Eastern Europe went thru in the late 80s. Although some blood was shed, it was a remarkable small amount considering the number of people/countries that cast off the yoke of Communist one-party rule.

The sad truth, though, is that people have to be willing to die for freedom. It’s dangerous business, but those in power have too much incentive to hold onto power to just give it up w/o a fight. History has shown that be true more often than not.

More questions :slight_smile:

If not all democracies are good, should bad democracies be taken out as well?

What is a bad democracy?

  1. A system that doesn’t actually have the people in charge?
    1.a) What would be a true democracy?

  2. It has the people in charge but the people are bad?
    2.a) What do you replace the system with if it already is a true democracy?

As Latro correctly points out, being a “dictator” only contrevenes a few of these. A “mob-rule” democracy could easily violate more of them more seriously, and would therefore be rather more worthy of the world’s attention.

However, I believe the spirit of minega’s question is valid: What should happen to regimes which violate the human rights of their own people, assuming that military action is a feasible option (which it would not be in eg. China)?

One thing that should happen to dictators, regardless of who ‘we’ are and what ‘we’ decide to do, is to ensure that the alternative is not worse than the dictator. Just because Evil King X is gone, does not by any stretch of the imagination mean that his subjects are better off, especially if he is deposed by external forces who then abandon the subjects to New Nice King Y, who turns out not to be as nice as promised.

You’re probably thinking I am talking about Saddam and making a veiled anti-war argument. Which I might be. But I’m much more interested in Mugabe as an example. Unfortunately I don’t have any cites, because of the fact that anything resembling ‘objective’ journalism on the subject these days is nearly impossible to produce. My source: several ex-pat Zimbabweans, educated and politically aware, which I think is the best source of info you could get on the subject these days. You are perfectly entitled to take it with a grain of salt: I am merely illustrating the difficulty of seeing dictators as solely evil people who offer nothing good to their people.

So, Mugabe:

  • he was a leader in the independence movement and remained hugely popular, doing many good things for Zimbabwe through his reign, before something snapped (around the time his wife Sally died) and he started acting … um … differently.

  • his land reform scheme is supported by many black Zimbabweans, although his methods (and motivations) are not.

  • his main political opponent, Tsvangirai, is ‘no better’ than Mugabe in terms of fixing the nation’s problems (although he may not be as cruel), and has no more interest in the well-being of the people. His election would not represent a large step forward for many Zimbabweans.

  • People want a third alternative.

So if, hypothetically, the US decided to go for a ‘regime change,’ what would come out of it? Tsvangirai would not be a solution although he is the only obvious choice for another Zimbabwean politician. I have serious doubts that the ‘third alternative’ that the US would approve of would meet the approval of Zimbabweans as well. If someone takes power who is unsatisfactory to the people and does not take the nation in the direction that the people want, who ends the land reform movement (that many Zimbabweans support), but who also ends the cruelty to people, is that necessarily an improvement? I say it could be, but it could as easily be a step down.

When ‘we’ are considering mucking about in someone else’s politics, we had better be darned sure that what we are offering is a real improvement, and that we will stick around to take responsibility in case it turns out otherwise.

John Mace is absolutely correct: the US would not intervene unless their own interests are at stake. In such a situation, I am not convinced that the * replacement* leadership will really be good for the people.

This doesn’t mean that we should take a policy of non-interference. What it means is that we should take more responsibility for the effects of our actions, and not think that ‘once Mugabe is gone, it will be bread and roses for the Zimbabweans.’ It is much more complicated than that.

The only way to deal with a dictator that is not acting agressively (as in actively taking over other countries) is to try them in an International court.

Nations have a right to sovreignty, even if we don’t like what they end up doing. Destroying the government of a nation is not a fun-n-easy “regime change”. It is a very grave act. We are talking about essentially taking over other countries here! The countries of this world are not toys for us to arrange and rearrange as we wish! Heck, we’re not even very good at picking out friendly governments to instate.

The way politics and International relations works is that we work with governments, occassionally declareing war on them in extreme situations. It does not work by just toppling everyone that doesn’t suit our fancy just because we have enough guns to do it. That is destroying the right of the world to self-govern themselves, and is essentially enslaving the world to America’s interests. I’d call that wrong.

PARADE magazine did an article on the Top Ten Dictators just this weekend.

For example in the case of Mugabe…he should be locked out of the AU for starters and diplomatic pressure be brought to bear on him. he is complacent knowing that he has supporrt especially from Africa.
then again, if Africa tried to weed out all its dictators…taolk about a herculean task.But we ought to make an example of Mugabe. He is abominable>