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Dictatorship 101

So the New Year meant a lot of parties. It meant a lot of talking to a bunch of fellow Americans and realizing at how they know about the world around us. They know know enough to complain, but that’s about their limit. I am, of course, talking about you.

Go ahead, name six important foreign leaders. And, no, Tony Blair doesn’t count.

Before you shut me out—I know this article already stinks of “unfun learning”—let me just plead with you: take a moment to read this. It’s so important to know who these people are. And there are less words in this simple article than any two Radiohead songs put together. Even the one where it’s just that computer talking. And this isn’t nearly as painful. Consider it your booster shot against the twenty-four hour stupid that’s going around this winter. Let’s get started:

Who’s on first? President Hu, that is. Know who he is? He’s the leader of the Chinese government and their local chapter of the Communist Party. This soft-faced, well-spoken man is noted for both his work to green up the country’s industrialization and his “China’s Peaceful Rise” policy, which, just as it sounds, is an attempt to convince the world that everyone benefits from China’s bulging military. Incidentally, Hu was the party chief in Tibet during 1989, when the big crackdown came there—including the killing of the Panchen Lama (the Dali’s number two man). This bit of political success began his rise to where he is today.

Contrary to popular opinion, Kim Jong-il is not the president of North Korea. That honor belongs to his father, Kim Il-sung. Fortunately for Jong-il, his father, the “Eternal President”, has been dead since 1994. This makes the old man perhaps the most perfect puppet government ever conceived. Equally convenient is the lack of elections required for Jong-il, because he isn’t the president. He’s just that crazy-haired, huge-glasses guy who controls all the nukes.

For the last year, South Korean minister Ban Ki-moon has been the General Secretary of the United Nations. Here in America, the U.N. is regularly downplayed as the so-called organization that is powerless to stop us from invading Iraq or doing whatever the hell else we want. But Secretary Ban has real potential to make the U.N. seem like it’s back in charge. He didn’t condemning Hussein’s controversial execution and he’s done less than nothing for either Taiwan or Iran. Instead, he’s focused on no-brainers like global warming and Darfur. So there’s little fear that the U.N.’s policies will come into conflict with the way the world is already moving. After all, the best leadership is when people don’t notice they are being led.

As the “Bush of the North”, Stephen Harper is the first conservative Prime Minister of Canada since 1993. Sporting the same sort of businessman’s power suits that Bush made famous, Harper has spent unprecedented time visiting troops in Afghanistan, made a strong anti-Lebanon stance, and announced his intention to defend Canada’s claim on the Arctic waters with military strength. In fact, about the only thing that distinguishes Harper from his southern counterpart is his economic policy seems to be working.

Thirty-six percent of Mexico’s citizens still believe that President Felipe Calderón stole his office. So controversial was his election that, for several days leading up to his inauguration, there was fist-fighting on the floor of congress. Felipe is yet another North American Powersuit President (NAPP). He’s most noted for his anti-drug campaign, which included ordering the army to march into Tijuana. There, under the assumption they were all corrupt, they demanded all police officers surrender their weapons.

As a 6th Dan Black Belt in Judo, there’s no question of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s success in the WWF Superpower Slam. Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, this former KGB Major is also happy to resume Russia’s traditional role as antagonizer of the United States—granted this time with a more diplomatic angle. Harsh criticisms of just about everything Bush has endeared him around the world. And he’s a hit back home, too, going after the corrupt and the wealthy with a vigor we could use here in the west.

This is a special message to my fellow Americans, specifically those seventy-eight million of you who still support the current President, George W. Bush. Because there comes a time in everyone’s life when everyone must admit they were wrong. For myself, that time came on August 17th, 1998.

In 1996, I voted to re-elect Bill Clinton. I didn’t disliked Bob Dole. He seemed like a fine, upstanding, moderate sort of guy. I just felt that Clinton was doing a good job, and saw no reason to change the guard. Later, when scandal broke and he denied his sexual liaisons, I stood by him, telling people that I believed him. That I believed in him.

But I was wrong. Not about some affair with an intern. That sort of thing is very personal and hadn’t much to do with the job I help hire him to do. But when Clinton admitted he had lied, he had, by proxy, made a liar out of me. Then, to make matters worse, he had to go and lob a couple bombs into Afghanistan and Sudan—a piss-poor attempt to divert people’s attention from his failures. All in all, bad show.

It hurt at the time, but I swallowed my pride and admitted I was wrong. Since then, enough water has passed under the bridge that I no longer feel the sting of this admission. I promise it will be like that for you one day, especially if you get started now.

Because right now there’s a trend among us Americans, especially stead-fast Republicans, to admit they were wrong about President Bush. Wrong about his war, his economic policies, his stance on global warming, and his inaction about our economy. Hell, wrong about his whole presidency from day one. His popularity has slipped, plummeting to record-breaking lows as more and more people are changing their minds about the man on Pennsylvania Avenue.

But there are still so many of you who refuse to jump on this bandwagon.

I can’t know what your reasons are. Perhaps you still believe in Bush’s character, in his ideas and his straight-forward way of discussing them. Perhaps your trust lies in another man, a local figure in your life who still believes. Perhaps you’re just as stubborn as a river in Oregon. As I said, I can’t know your reasons.

All I can know is that the time has come for you to join me and so many of your fellow citizens in admission that you have incorrectly judged a man. It’s not such a big deal. We’ve all bore this shame, and kept our pride intact.

I might even argue that at this point, pride-wise, you have more to lose by staying the course.

Anyone keeping an eye on the whole Iraq thing (I know it’s difficult to tear away from the Britney scandal) has probably noticed that we seem to be making enemies faster than we can kill them. In fact, the balance seems to have tipped to the point where we’re pretty much universally considered the bad guy by those people.

I’m pretty sure the place we went wrong was by getting all them Iraqis killed. No matter if you believe Bush (30,000 dead), Tony Blair (50,000 dead), or those epidemiologists who do all the major disaster death-counts for a living (650,000 dead), the point is we’ve caused a lot of folks over there to get killed and it’s put us on shaky ground with the Iraq population who, for some reason, would like to see us leave their country before we get them personally killed.

Whichever death toll you believe, it would seem that the majority of Americans still felt that the death count was too low by at least one, and were looking for looking forward to Saddam Hussein’s death (Ironically, for crimes against humanity.) Now Saddam was a pretty bad guy and all. He was responsible, sometimes directly, for the death of anywhere from a half a million to a million people in Iraq ( a difficult feat to beat: to make sure we’ve got the high-end covered, we’re going to have to stay in Iraq at least until the end of the Bush presidency. ) But crimes aside, what better way is there to let the citizens of Iraq know who’s really in charge than to have their government (which we established) ‘execute’ the guy who used to run the country?

None that I can think of.

Of course, killing the old boss is a time-honored tradition here in the west. To take just a small period in English history, we see can see it in action:

  • In 1649, King Charles I was defeated in a revolutionary war. After his defeat, he was tried and convinced of high treason by the victors. They put him to death.
  • Lord Cromwell took over the helm for England, theoretically making it a democracy. But, unfortunately, he killed lots of people rather whimsically, then he left the title of ‘Lord Protector’ (not to be confused with ‘king’) to his son, Richard.
  • In 1660, Richard (being held in house arrest) wisely gave up power to Charles the Second. King Chuck II had the good manners to not kill the co-operative Richard, but did dig up his father, posthumously execute him, and leave his head stuck on a tall pole in central London for four years.

    If there’s any conclusion to be drawn from all this, it’s that former Iraqi President Saddam should have seen it coming and current the Iraqi President Jalal Talabani should be shaking in his shoes. Especially because, if the U.S. does pull out of Iraq anytime in the near future, it’s historically assured he’ll be following in the footsteps of the man he didn’t see fit to pardon.

  • I never thought I would see the sun rise on such a day here in America, but it’s happened.

    It seems the the White House (a term one can only think refers to President Bush) has censored a New York Times article about Iran. Follow this link to see the scariness itself: an American news article with dark black lines blocking out sections of the article.

    Of course, the ‘White House’ has presented the usual security-related reasons. (which for any other administration would seem valid). But I ask you, Do you think Fox News ever had an article censored?

    I don’t think this administration is taking their defeat at the polls (and therefore the loss of their self-proclaimed ‘mandate’) very seriously.