Parade Magazine has come out with their list of the Top Ten Worst Dictators again (how does a year go by so fast?), and it looks like the same old faces made the list again. When are these guys going to disappear? And what could be the most eye-opening fact about this year’s list is that Parade included information about how much business the U.S. does with these countries, even though publicly we denounce the atrocities.
- Kim Jong-Il, North Korea – Our buddy Kim. Oh, how we miss your boisterous claims about getting holes-in-one on every hole when you play golf.
- Omar Al-Bashir, Sudan – The U.S. criticizes them, but we continue to purchase 4,000 tons a year of ‘gum arabic’, which is used in soft drinks, candy, shoe polish and stamps. Good thing we can mail a letter, too bad for all the people dying over there!
- Than Shwe, Burma – Sure, we ended imports in 2003, but we still export over $7 million worth of products to them each year.
- King Abdullah, Saudi Arabia – Our buddies, the Saudis. We love them so much we can look past the fact that women are more oppressed there than anywhere else on earth, teens can be sentenced to death, and defendants can be tortured. We have also sold them more then $15 billion worth of arms in the last decade. It’s good to have friends in high places!
- Hu Jintao, China – Good thing we gave them the Olympics, with it’s international spirit and all-inclusiveness. After all, the government of China forces abortions on people, controls all media, and limits the practice of religion. They are our second biggest trading partner, so who cares about injustice!
- Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe – With inflation at 8,000%, protesters being killed, and Bush calling their policies “an assault on its people”, you would think we would not be doing business with them…but you would be wrong. U.S. trade with Zimbabwe has increased each of the last 4 years – mainly in importing nickel so we can make stainless steel. Go Zimbabwe!
- Sayid Ali Khamenei, Iran – We all know their deal and how much our government supposedly wants to attack them. But why has trade been increasing with them, to the tune of $125 million last year? Strange world, it is…
- Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan – Another one of our good buddies, in the last year Pakistan has suspended the constitution, shut down the courts, arrested thousands of protesters and passed a law removing challenges to his continuation as President. And this is before President Bush called them an “advanced democracy”…I would not want to find out what a dictatorship was like then!
- Islan Karimov, Uzbekistan – We need their uranium to make weapons, so we look past their torturing of citizens, forced psychiatric treatment of dissenters, and a president who got elected to a third term – even though the constitution set a two-term limit.
- Isaya Afewerki, Eritrea – First of all, I had never heard of Eritrea. But maybe that is because there is no free press there, no elections, and no constitution. Sounds like a fun place to visit for vacation, no?
Very interesting stuff, take a look at the full list and information at Parade.com.