Special issue: The world’s top 10 dictators
The Western Favourite
Dictators: Islam’s man of action
Ziauddin Sardar on Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan
The Dictator on Europe’s Doorstep
Dictators: Dreaming of the USSR
Andrey Kurkov on Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus
The Religious Authority
Dictators: Reform and the mullahs
Ali M Ansari on Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of Iran
The Nuclear Threat
Dictators: The depths of evil
Jasper Becker on Kim Jong-il of North Korea
The Personality Cult Leader
Dictators: Central Asia’s new idol
Lucy Ash on Saparmurat Niyazov of Turkmenistan
Dictators: Between the Party and the markets
Xiao Jia Gu on Hu Jintao of China
The Absolute Monarch
Dictators: Oil, torture and the west
Damian Quinn on Abdullah Ibn Abdul Aziz al-Saud of Saudi Arabia
The rest are at the top link. One that struck me was Saudi Arabia,
In 2002, Jeremy Paxman asked Tony Blair how he could endorse a country that “bans political parties, bans trade unions and uses institutional torture?”. Blair looked perplexed. “The country being . . . ?”. “Saudi Arabia,” replied Paxman – Blair had recently described it as “a friend of the civilised world”.
Blair’s squirming typifies western governments’ double standards – they are happy to support a monarchical regime which stifles internal dissent and discriminates against citizens who refuse its extreme puritanical form of Wahhabi Sunni Islam. The country’s vast oil reserves and large defence contracts are enough to keep western criticisms of its human-rights abuses to a minimum
The Saudis are a conundrum at the very least. Their way of governance and the kind of relations we have with pushes the progressive America’s nose up against the world of realpolitik. Without their oil or at least sudden withdrawal of the Saudi oil habit would produce tremendous hardship for America’s middle-class. They do serve to remind us the sooner the nation can shift to more sustainable sources of energy the better. As much as the Saudis are a thorn in the side of those that genuinely care about human rights they are an ever constant reminder of the neocon hypocrisy whenever they talk about spreading democracy.
China makes the list. Check on the votes of your favorite Congress critter and Bush’s trade bills that have given trade with China the bright green light. Go into your favorite Wal-Mart or Home Depot and check the made in label. We’re not supporting freedom in China we ‘re supporting a perverse wedding of communists political dogma with western capitalism. Whenever Bush or Cheney or someone else in the administration opens their mouths and out pours some boiler plate platitudes about spreading democracy informed Americans don’t dismiss what they say because we hate them, but because they are such absurd fabricators. They care about power, they care about money, but the neocons and their cult do not care about democracy or spreading same. That they have convinced some conservative bloggers and the corporate media that they do is testament to how lap doggish some folks can be in their political loyalties. We all have a double standard or two, some seemed more inclined to push the hypocrisy to new extremes. It just seems that Bush and company are hoping that the Big Lie will act like some cosmic shield, that no one will notice that they are all too happy to do business with the worse of the worse as long as everyone’s wallet is kept in plain sight. Contrary to the conspiracy minded this is not some secret hush hush affair, the wheeling and dealing is documented daily on the financial pages of America’s biggest newspapers. The only mystery here is why more people don’t put the pieces together and demand some coherent foreign policy instead of digging their heels in and defending it.
Something new, I mean really new in the way of noirish or pulpish doesn’t come along everyday. My discovery of someone else’s discovery of a “cosmic noir” comic novel, Johnny Repeat (TPB)
The label “cosmic noir” has been applied by others to Johnny Repeat, and while the label is accurate, it falls short of really encompassing the feel of the book, but I can’t think of a better term to use.
Full review with some illustrations at the link.
Tom, I never had trouble getting
credit from you before. When I was
flat broke you gave me all the
money I wanted. Now I come to you
with a swell deal, and the greatest—
I’ll tell you why. I don’t like
the crowd you’re mixed up with.
Personally, you can have all the
credit you want. But for that deal –
not a cent.
from AMERICAN MADNESS 1932 Screenplay by Robert Riskin