Just look at this guy: great suit, sharp haircut, winning smile. What is there not to like about a guy like Faure Gnassingbe? Well, the fact that he and his old man have ruled the country since independence, for one. Togo and the Gnassingbes are essentially one and the same. That might change this week, but I doubt it. Togo's presidential elections were yesterday (Saturday, 25 April 2015), and while this time the competition was stiffer than it usually is, my money is on Faure. He might be slipping in the polls, and it's true that the Togolese have just been registered as Africa's most miserable. Lord knows under the Gnassingbe family Togo hasn't made much progress. But is a guy this sharp going to just piss it all away in the name of democracy? Not if he's read my book. Good luck, Faure, and see you around another year, probably. If the election goes south, you know what to do next. Start by wiping off that winning smile and showing Togo what happens when you don't get your way.
It's hard not to be touched by the recent violence. And after careful consideration, I have to say I stand with Charlie Hebdo. It's simple: I've lived in peaceful, Muslim countries for well over a decade. And not only do I have enormous respect for Islam and Muslims, I can understand their anger when they feel they are being provoked and slighted.
But that doesn't justify cold-blooded murder. This attack was wrong. There's no way to condone the murder of these people. When satire is a threat, you have to seriously re-evaluate your beliefs. Humor is the weapon best able to topple the worst dictators. Let's support free expression, in whatever form it takes. Murder is not the answer.
I am against violence in all its forms. But I'd like to hope we can find ways to not deliberately provoke the religious-minded, too. Hey, why can't we all just get along?
Everyone has been excited to see Evo Morales get reelected for another mandate, and I don't have much of an opinion about that. But watch out for those of you who would like to point to the reelection as an example of success for the famous, Hugo Chavez-inspired "Bolivarian Revolution."
The name refers to Simon Bolivar, not the modern-day nation, and before anyone gets too excited about the name, it's useful to take a look at what Chavez actually accomplished in his nation before shuffling off this mortal coil.
Continue reading "A Look at the Bolivarian Revolution"
What does it look like when the people decide it's time for you to go? It looks like this. Here's a picture from 31 October 2014 in Ouagadougou, as President Compaore decides what his next move will be. Here's what the people think: they seem to think it's time for a change in government!
Photo by Joe Penney, Reuters photojournalist in West Africa.
Hey Blaise, hope you're hunkered down over there! As far as I can tell from here, Burkina Faso is minutes away from declaring the end of you, via a huge popular protest and the support of the military - all things you'd have had a better time handling if you'd ever read my book. If you're still in Ouagadougou and wondering what to do, have a look at the chapters on Managing Uprisings and Endgame - you're going to need it.
Then, just to make sure you are getting the comfort and support you need in this time of crisis, I recommend hugging a stuffed animal. Worked for Mobutu (pictured) and the rest of the dictators in this photo series, from Khadaffi to Castro to Chavez. Everyone needs a hug from Mr. Piggy-Wiggy, eh Blaise?
I'd like to take a moment here and give a shout-out to my boys the Burmese generals. Ever been to one of those stupid movies where there's a psycho killer in the abandoned house, but the stupid girl and her sorority sisters are walking up to the front door anyway to go get slaughtered in the next two minutes of the film?
That's what watching American trying to court Myanmar is like.
Continue reading "Round of applause for Burma!"
Well, we're late in wishing Baby Doc Duvalier a happy afterlife, but it's been a long time since he mattered much, and when he did matter, it was for all the wrong reasons. He got more than honorable in the Dictator's Handbook and his 15 year rule of Haiti was only slightly better than an outbreak of a deadly virus, rife with humans rights abuses, torture, and unexplained death.
Never underestimate that power of the crowds to come out and mourn the "good old days," though.
Continue reading "R.I.P. Baby Doc Duvalier"
What if you were a god? Divine? What if your every utterance were the will of the Almighty? What if you were the Almighty?
Hey, I'm just asking an honest question.
Continue reading "What if you were a god?"
All this whining and crying about independence movements brings a tear to my eye, as I reach for my revolver. You, son: you don't want independence, you just think you do. What you really want, as far as I can tell, is for someone powerful and visionary to show you which direction is up.
In short: you need a Dick.
What if you got your independence? The jackass behind you would probably decide he needs independence too. Never mind the fact you can't survive on your own. Never mind the fact you can't wipe your nose and walk at the same time. They've got the right idea over at Slate. Check out their map of what Europe would look like if every separatist movement got its way. Not pretty, I can assure you.
Maybe you should just sit down and shut up.
Actually, know what I should do? Let you all get your independence, because individually you are all weak and unprotected. Then I should run roughshod over you like a bunch of slugs crossing a highway. Because while you're enjoying your newfound independence, I'll be warming up my army to make you my bitches.
I know, I know, you've read the entire chapter of the Dictator's Handbook about security and police forces as well as the chapter on perpetuating a culture of fear, and you're thinking to yourself, "dammit, all the interesting torture practices have already been discovered and are being used elsewhere! How am I supposed to innovate in this important area of governance?"
Fear not, young Dick. Nigeria is here to show you the way.
Continue reading "Torture, Nigeria style"