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On Losing Your Grip

No, this is not 'losing your grip on power.' Not yet anyway. This is yet again another admonition to all you would-be autocrats out there ... please, by all means emulate my book, chapter and verse, but don't, under any circumstances, think that you can come up with an innovative idea and run with it, no matter how crazy it is, simply because you are a 'dictator.' Yes, being a dictator means doing what you want. But if you want to be a successful dictator, that means NOT BEING STUPID.  Continue reading "On Losing Your Grip"

WWDD? Funding Problems

Sir:  It was all working pretty well the past couple of years: I was getting funded pretty liberally from (ahem) outside sources, and using that funding to feather the nest, put a few chickens in a few pots, and basically run the nation.  Then suddenly, the money dried up.  I'm potentially screwed now: I've got poor people crying all over the place that they want their cut of the action, I've got a private sector that isn't exactly a great source of income, and I've got huge expenses on all sides.  All this stuff used to get covered by my monthly checks, and now I've got nothing?  What to do?

  -- Signed, Fitty Cen

Continue reading "WWDD? Funding Problems"

No Respect

Obviously, some of you have not been paying attention to me. That or your reading comprehension and retention skills are at piss-poor levels, you illiterate tin-pot jack-a-holes ... President Morsi for one ... I mean ex-President ... yes, you! I guess you ignored my lessons about keeping your generals happy. Well, you got what you deserved. Then there's Medvedev. My God, what happened to you? You were so promising at one point, but you've slipped, you've debased yourself, and you've been reduced to complaining about rocket failures? What's next, reality TV? 

But the guy who really gets my goat is Evo Morales ... friend, you have some balls showing your face around here. Any dictator who gets no respect is no dictator to me. Because 'respect' is the goal -- the be all, end all, especially from those milquetoast Westerners. Those same Westerners, I might add, that grounded your presidential plane when they suspected you were trying to spirit the NSA leaker back to fair Bolivia. Do you think they would have grounded Putin's plane? Stalin's plane? Hell, even Robert Mugabe gets more respect than you. 

You've worn out your welcome with this autocrat, I'm afraid. So take a break from the spotlight, Evo, go fishing, relax, stay out the news for a while because you're starting to piss me off ... and while you're at it, take off that fucking hat. This is Rich Tater talking.  

I left my suit at the dry cleaners

How to Announce a Coup

Well, if there's ever a second edition of the Dictator's Handbook, you can bet that this article will be part of it. Brilliant piece by James Reynolds over in the BBC's Istanbul bureau. "Sunglasses optional: Essential props for declaring a coup". A friend said, "This reminded me of your book." He's damned right.

Here's a taste:

Sunglasses are optional. The general's look as he reads his declaration may become the defining image of his country to the outside world (it will certainly be the image for which he is most remembered by his own people).

The coup statement must follow a certain format. The general should stress that the military is responding to its patriotic duty. Above all, the coup leader must avoid calling his actions a coup - a word which may make him look like a gangster. More often, he will prefer to used the word "intervention".

Go read it at the BBC.

On Losing the Military

In The Dictator's' Handbook we stressed the importance of military support to established and aspiring tyrants, a fact that should be obvious to anyone with even a small awareness of history. Well, perhaps that's just another unrealistic expectation, because it looks as if Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi had no idea! (And do you remember what happened the last time the Egyptian militaryissued a communique?)

Rule number 1 for any competent autocrat should be 'keep the military on your side'; rule number 2 should be 'know your people.' And if your people have within recent memory deposed another heedless dictator who usurped the democratic process, antagonized the supporters of civil society, and responded poorly to ongoing protests, then the very least you can do is avoid repeating the mistakes of the prior regime.

And that includes keeping the military on your good side, President Morsi! 

Uh-oh, I should have read the Dictator's Handbook more carefully