Antipundit Rides Forth

Friday, April 18, 2003:

Dictatorship and reform

I would posit that a large number of US-supported dictators had pretty negative effects on their countries.

Autocracy tends to have corrupting effects like it did with Galtieri, Marcos, Zia ul Haq (who ushered in fundamentalism in Pakistan and Afghanistan while the US cheered him on) and Suharto.

As for the Pinochet parallel, in the early 80's one could have said that Hussein's rule would usher Iraq into the modern age when he wowing everybody with his literacy and health programmes whilst still showing the same blatant disregard for human rights that typified his life.


Except that Ba'athism was an intellectual movement that sought to transform society. Pinochet, Franco, Marcos, etc. were militarist who sought to preserve first the prerogatives of the military, but second the rest of the traditional conservative institutioons in the country. And because they were embraced by the West and repeated Western platitudes, they, whether intentionally or no, laid the groundwork for liberalization.


You know my opinion on Franco so I won't repeat it. I suspect Pinochet was an outlier.

I don't know much about Marcos but I suspect Filipinos would point out the country had a democratic tradition before he came to power and he didn't do much to help the positive development of institutions like a free press, independent judiciary, democratic opposition, corruption-free civil service or a free-market economy.

And I doubt the "well at least he wasn't a Commie who'd have cats sleeping with dogs" would wash with them either.
US backed

Anyway supporting dictators can and has rebounded badly on the US. Iran could have well continued on the path to Western liberalism if America hadn't pissed off the entire country by reinstalling a monarch who was definitely not the choice of the people and was too politically ham-fisted to realise he was dangerously antagonising *ahem* traditional Iranian conservative institutions.

Another thing is dictators can muzzle domestic opposition and existing tension in their countries thereby providing the illusion of tranquility but once they're gone, disputes between different classes and ethnic groups can flare hugely out of control as in Indonesia and Yugoslavia.

I don't want to slam the US since they did what they thought was necessary to win the Cold War and God knows policy makers tend to be faced with a multitude of bad options but I think the belief that's circulating (courtesy of pundits of the like of Fareed Zakaria and Robert Kaplan) to put faith in the power of autocrats who will (eventually ) allow for a transition to democracy is a little dangerous.

Getting a dictator who overall has limited interest in enriching himself, is politically gifted enough to survive all the opponents he faces, inflicts minimal damage on a country's population by the policies he pursues and lays the groundwork for a successful democracy seems asking a little too much for me.

Ali Choudhury // 10:08 AM


Thursday, April 17, 2003:

Questionaire by 'Automatic Chaos'

Ugliest actress: Minnie Driver

Hottest actress: Salma Hayek

Does your girlfriend/boyfriend like wrestling: No

Worst CD you have ever bought: Marilyn Manson's debut album

Best CD you have ever bought: Countdown to Extinction by Megadeth

Your fav movie: Seven Samurai

Fav video game: Final Fantasy 7

Least fav video game: Batman Forever

Fav drink: Tropical fruit juice

Fav food: Anything home-cooked. Had enough fast food during student days

fav cereal: Currently Fruitibix

Single/married/dating: Single

Ali Choudhury // 7:30 PM


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