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The Far Enemy (Scapegoating)

A recent post in our forum takes note of the anti-US rhetoric of Bolivian president Evo Morales, and suggests that its virulence might be harming that country's relationship with important neighbors like Brazil. My partner in crime is the resident Bolivia expert and I defer any deeper analysis to him, but I think it's safe to note that the persistent use of anti-US language and imagery by Morales is a classic dictator tactic: find a safe, distant enemy to blame for economic and other ills, preferably an enemy that your supporters are primed to hate, and deflect and distract attention from your own nefarious actions. Read on. 

In chapter 6 of The Dictator's Handbook we describe this political tactic in detail and even use Mr. Morales as an example of a practitioner, but there are many others, going back as far as Alexander the Great and his opposing of the Greek and Asian world views (at least, during his initial conquest) as part of his rationale for invading the Persian Empire. This kind of scapegoating has many other uses beyond focusing attention elsewhere. Importantly, it can also be an opportunity to showcase your leadership skills, and nothing shows them in greater relief than standing up to the Great Satan. 

Read the book for more, but remember, you probably can tell a great dictator from the size and scope of his enemies list.   

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