The top 23
I came across a fascinating article in slate.com this week. It was written by George Ayittey, a native of Ghana, who is president of the Free Africa Foundation.
He claimed that there are at least 40 dictators around the world today, and he posted his “top” 23. According to Ayittey, approximately 1.9 billion people live under the grip of these despots. He stressed: “The cost of all that despotism has been stultifying. Millions of lives have been lost, economies have collapsed, and whole states have failed under brutal repression. And what has made it worse is that the world is in denial.”
I reproduce his list with the rankings based on “ignoble qualities of perfidy, cultural betrayal, and economic devastation.”
1. Kim Jong Il, North Korea
2. Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe
3. Than Shwe, Burma
4. Omar Hassa Al-Bashir, Sudan
5. Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, Turkmenistan
6. Isaias Afwerki, Eritrea
7. Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan
8. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran
9. Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia
10. Hu Jintao, China
11. Muammar Al-Qaddafi, Libya
12. Bashar Al-Assad, Syria
13. Idriss Deby, Chad
14. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, Equatorial Guinea
15. Hosni Mubarak, Egypt
16. Yahya Jammeh, Gambia
17. Hugo Chavez, Venezuela
18. Blaise Compaore, Burkina Faso
19. Yoweri Museveni, Uganda
20. Paul Kagame, Rwanda
21. Raul Castro, Cuba
22. Aleksandr Lukashenko, Belarus
23. Paul Biya, Cameroon.
The regional breakdown of these 23 dictators is as follows: Africa – 13; Asia – 6; Americas – 2; and Europe – 1. The two countries in the Americas also happen to be darlings of the left. Absent from the list are the Anglo 4, the A4 – Australia, Canada, the UK and the US, all being members of the G20.
Only one member of the G20 is on Ayittey’s list. Most of the protests and protestors (the thugs) at this week’s G20 meetings in Toronto are targeting the A4, and none seem to target China, or any other country among the top 23. Indeed, I do not recall any significant protests around the world in the past few years that have focused on any of the 23 despots.
Where are the people supposedly fighting for freedom and human rights? Obviously, in their eyes, capitalism, in its many forms, seems to be a greater threat to freedom and human rights than brutal dictatorships, especially since many of these dictatorships are nominally based on Marxist ideals.
As Ayittey noted, there is an “inconvenient truth” that these people like to ignore: “Like a true Marxist revolutionary, Zenawi has stashed millions in foreign banks…even as his barbaric regime collects a whopping $1 billion in foreign aid each year.”
And where is the UN? In May 2007, Zimbabwe was elected to chair the UN Commission on Sustainable Development. The economic policies imposed by Mugabe have destroyed Zimbabwe, plunging a once relatively prosperous country into destitution. So much for sustainable development.
UNESCO has named a scientific prize after Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, Equatorial Guinea’s tyrant. And the UN Human Rights Council has been notoriously inactive in pursuing any of the leaders on the top 23 list.
Perhaps, now that the UN is proceeding with another boondoggle, a super agency for women’s rights, the UN can appoint the top 23 as the founding members for this organization. And maybe the Taliban can be given observer status.
In his 1946 address to the UN General Assembly’s first session, President Harry Truman spoke of the four freedoms – freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want, and freedom from fear – enshrined in the UN charter. It appears that most people, especially those on the left, have forgotten about these freedoms.
The opinions expressed in this blog are personal and do not reflect the views of either Global Brief or the Glendon School of Public and International Affairs.