autocrats   23

Facebook Twitter Whatsapp The Resilience of the Arab World’s Pouvoir
Eight years after the Arab Spring, dreams of democracy in the Arab world have been dashed by the harsh reality of autocracy, corruption, and military rule. Yet Algeria and Sudan, neither of which was swept up in the 2011 turmoil, are now trying their luck at challenging the often-surreptitious powers that be – what Algerian demonstrators back in 1988 dubbed le pouvoir. Will Arab democracy movements fare any better this time?But, as badly as Algeria’s military, led by General Gaid Salah, wants citizens to believe that it is dismantling the cabal of well-connected cliques that form le pouvoir, the protesters remain convinced that this is just a smokescreen.Algerians know how resilient le pouvoir is. It was given this name during the 1988 Black October riots – an explosion of mass rage against a corrupt, autocratic one-party system controlled by the National Liberation Front (FLN).
ps-columns  Africa  geopolitics  movements  autocrats 
may 2019 by thomas.kochi
Maduro's 20-Ton Pile of Gold Is Stuck in Limbo in a Caracas Vault
With 20 tons of gold stacked up for loading and shipping out of Venezuelan vaults, the mystery surrounding them -- and the saber-rattling they’re sparking -- is intensifying.As Nicolas Maduro, the authoritarian ruler, tries to stave off mounting international pressure to relinquish power, the fate of those gold bars has become a cause of great concern both in Venezuela and abroad. Valued at about $850 million, they are an important source of wealth in a country that has plunged into extreme poverty under Maduro’s leadership.On Thursday, Marco Rubio, the Florida senator who has helped spearhead the U.S.’s hard-line stance toward the Maduro regime, fired off a tweet calling out the United Arab Emirates’ Noor Capital as the financial firm orchestrating the gold transaction.Twenty tons is a lot of gold bars -- almost 1,600 of them. Together, they represent about 10 percent of all the Venezuelan central bank’s foreign reserves. Last week, the Bank of England denied Maduro officials’ request to withdraw $1.2 billion of gold stored there after top U.S. officials, including Bolton and Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, lobbied their U.K. counterparts to cut off the regime from its overseas holdings.
Venezuela  scams  autocrats 
february 2019 by thomas.kochi
Donald Trump Poisons the World
JUNE 2, 2017 | The New York Times | David Brooks.

This week, two of Donald Trump’s top advisers, H. R. McMaster and Gary Cohn, wrote the following passage in The Wall Street Journal: “The president embarked on his first foreign trip with a cleareyed outlook that the world is not a ‘global community’ but an arena where nations, nongovernmental actors and businesses engage and compete for advantage.”

That sentence is the epitome of the Trump project. It asserts that selfishness is the sole driver of human affairs. It grows out of a worldview that life is a competitive struggle for gain. It implies that cooperative communities are hypocritical covers for the selfish jockeying underneath.

The essay explains why the Trump people are suspicious of any cooperative global arrangement, like NATO and the various trade agreements. It helps explain why Trump pulled out of the Paris global-warming accord. This essay explains why Trump gravitates toward leaders like Vladimir Putin, the Saudi princes and various global strongmen: They share his core worldview that life is nakedly a selfish struggle for money and dominance.

It explains why people in the Trump White House are so savage to one another. Far from being a band of brothers, their world is a vicious arena where staffers compete for advantage......In the essay, McMaster and Cohn make explicit the great act of moral decoupling woven through this presidency. In this worldview, morality has nothing to do with anything. Altruism, trust, cooperation and virtue are unaffordable luxuries in the struggle of all against all. Everything is about self-interest. David Brooks contends that this philosophy is based on an error about human beings and it leads to self-destructive behavior in all cases.

The error is that it misunderstands what drives human action. Yes, people are self-interested but they are also wired to cooperate....Good leaders like Lincoln, Churchill, Roosevelt and Reagan understand the selfish elements that drive human behavior, but they have another foot in the realm of the moral motivations. They seek to inspire faithfulness by showing good character. They try to motivate action by pointing toward great ideals.

Realist leaders like Trump, McMaster and Cohn seek to dismiss this whole moral realm. By behaving with naked selfishness toward others, they poison the common realm and they force others to behave with naked selfishness toward them........By treating the world simply as an arena for competitive advantage, Trump, McMaster and Cohn sever relationships, destroy reciprocity, erode trust and eviscerate the sense of sympathy, friendship and loyalty that all nations need when times get tough.....George Marshall was no idealistic patsy. He understood that America extends its power when it offers a cooperative hand and volunteers for common service toward a great ideal. Realists reverse that formula. They assume strife and so arouse a volley of strife against themselves.
op-ed  climate_change  Donald_Trump  Gary_Cohn  decoupling  human_behavior  worldviews  WSJ  H.R._McMaster  selfishness  U.S.foreign_policy  Greek  morals  realism  George_Marshall  Marshall_Plan  self-interest  autocrats  Thucydides  David_Brooks  transactional_relationships  national_interests  institutions  international_system  values 
june 2017 by jerryking
What Can the Next President Do About Russia? - WSJ
Updated Oct. 16, 2016

Of the two great autocratic powers in Eurasia, Russia is emerging as a greater short-term threat than China. The Chinese hope to gradually dominate the waters off the Asian mainland without getting into a shooting war with the U.S. Yet while Beijing’s aggression is cool, Moscow’s is hot....Russia’s economic situation is much worse than China’s, and so the incentive of its leaders to dial up nationalism is that much greater. But the larger factor, one that Western elites have trouble understanding, cannot be quantified: A deeply embedded sense of historical insecurity makes Russian aggression crude, brazen, bloodthirsty and risk-prone. ....How does the U.S. build leverage on the ground, from the Baltic Sea to the Syrian desert, that puts America in a position where negotiations with Russia can make a strategic difference?....

For without the proper geopolitical context, the secretary of state is a missionary, not a diplomat. ...In the cyber domain the U.S. has not sufficiently drawn red lines. What kind of Russian hacking will result in either a proportionate, or even disproportionate, punitive response? The Obama administration seems to be proceeding ad hoc, as it has done with Russia policy in general. The next administration, along with projecting military force throughout the Russian near abroad, will have to project force in cyberspace, too.
Russia  Vladimir_Putin  Robert_Kaplan  threats  deterrence  nationalism  Baltics  NATO  U.S.foreign_policy  leverage  geopolitics  log_rolling  diplomacy  realism  balance_of_power  realpolitik  cyber_warfare  autocracies  insecurity  hacking  maritime  punitive  retribution  retaliation  South_China_Sea  ad_hoc  red_lines  China  autocrats 
october 2016 by jerryking
Why Russian hackers would meddle in U.S. politics - The Globe and Mail
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Jul. 27, 2016

But this is not just simply a titillating scandal in America’s electoral silly season. It sadly points to a fundamental weakness in the United States’ own cyberstrategy and its inability to deal effectively with autocrats who have outsized, imperial ambitions and terrorists who want to wreak havoc. Cyberattacks are increasingly the cornerstone of Russia’s regional and global military and political security strategy. They offset Moscow’s economic weakness.
Russia  hackers  cyber_security  data_breaches  cyberattacks  DNC  Campaign_2016  security_&_intelligence  autocrats 
july 2016 by jerryking
Mugabe takes the stage, and steals the show, in South Africa visit - The Globe and Mail
Mugabe takes the stage, and steals the show, in South Africa visit
JOHANNESBURG — The Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Apr. 08 2015
Robert_Mugabe  Zimbabwe  South_Africa  Jacob_Zuma  despots  tyrants  autocrats 
april 2015 by jerryking
Bret Stephens: What Samuel Huntington Knew -
By BRET STEPHENS |April 21, 2014

Maybe it's something in the water. Or the culture. Or the religion. Or the educational system. Or the level of economic development. Or the underhanded ways in which authoritarian leaders manipulate media and suppress dissent. The West rarely runs out of explanations for why institutions of freedom—presumably fit for all people for all time—seem to fit only some people, sometimes.

But maybe there's something else at work. Maybe the West mistook the collapse of communism—just one variant of dictatorship—as a vindication of liberal democracy. Maybe the West forgot that it needed to justify its legitimacy not only in the language of higher democratic morality. It needed to show that the morality yields benefits: higher growth, lower unemployment, better living...."Sustained inability to provide welfare, prosperity, equity, justice, domestic order, or external security could over time undermine the legitimacy of even democratic governments," Huntington warned. "As the memories of authoritarian failures fade, irritation with democratic failures is likely to increase."
Bret_Stephens  Samuel_Huntington  dictators  dictatorships  autocrats  legitimacy 
april 2014 by jerryking
Good leadership is Africa’s missing ingredient
Mar. 04 2013 | The Globe and Mail |Robert Rotberg.

Because so many of sub-Saharan Africa’s 49 countries are preinstitutional, and not yet fully nations, leaders matter immensely, more than they do in the developed world. Leaders call the shots, as they have in most sub-Saharan African countries since independence in the 1960s. They set the ethical tone. If leaders are greedy, as many are, their citizens become more cynical and the quality of governmental discourse suffers enormously.

In Africa and elsewhere, governments are expected by their subjects to provide security and safety, rule of law, open political participation, sustainable economic prospects and a large measure of human development (educational and health opportunities and services).

In states where political institutions are weak, legislatures are subordinate to executives, the media are barely free and the judiciary is subordinate rather than independent, the manner in which leaders behave as presidents and prime ministers is much more decisive than it might be in a fully-formed nation where political institutions work and constrain overweening political executives.

A majority of the countries of sub-Saharan Africa are still controlled by men who are motivated not by what they can do for their people but by what their people can do for them. Such leaders exist to prey on their own citizens, to extract from the body politic corrupt rents and other privileges that benefit the ruler and ruling class, their families, and their cliques or lineages.
leadership  leaders  leadership_development  Africa  CIDA  capacity-building  weak_states  judiciary  institutions  greed  rent-seeking  institutional_integrity  failed_states  sub-Saharan_Africa  Non-Integrating_Gap  autocrats  misgovernance  predatory_practices  developing_countries  independent_judiciary 
march 2013 by jerryking
Pop-Tarts Or Freedom? - Op-Ed -
January 16, 2005 | NYT | By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN;

In the wake of U.S. aid to help Muslim and other victims of the recent tsunami, Colin Powell suggested that maybe, now that the Muslim world had seen ''American generosity'' and ''American values in action,'' it wouldn't be so hostile to America.

Don't hold your breath waiting for a thank-you card. If the fact that American soldiers have risked their lives to save the Muslims of Bosnia, the Muslims of Kuwait, the Muslims of Somalia, the Muslims of Afghanistan and the Muslims of Iraq has earned the U.S. only the false accusation of being ''anti-Muslim,'' trust me, U.S. troops passing out bottled water and Pop-Tarts in Indonesia are not going to erase that lie. It is not an exaggeration to say that, if you throw in the Oslo peace process, U.S. foreign policy for the last 15 years has been dominated by an effort to save Muslims -- not from tsunamis, but from tyrannies, mostly their own theocratic or autocratic regimes.
U.S.foreign_policy  Arab-Muslim_world  Arab_Spring  autocrats  op-eds  Tom_Friedman  anti-Americanism  tyrants  tsunamis  Muslim  Colin_Powell 
january 2012 by jerryking
The hits and misses of history
Nov. 5, 2011 | The Financial Times. p7 | Simon Kuper.
Assassinations are rare occasions when the fate of nations can seem to hang on a sandwich, a briefcase or a roll of fat - in other words, on chance....some assassins do genuinely seem to change the course of events. In their 2009 paper, "Hit or Miss? The Effect of Assassinations on Institutions and War",Benjamin Jones and Benjamin Olken identified 298 serious assassination attempts against leaders worldwide since 1875. They found: "A country whose autocrat is assassinated is 13 percentage points more likely to move toward democracy in the following year than a country where the assassination attempt on the autocrat failed." In democracies, the authors say, assassinations didn't make a noticeable difference, so perhaps Oswald really didn't change history. Jones and Olken also argue that assassinations can affect the course of conflicts.

In short, many assassinations matter. And because leaders are so well-protected, chance often determines whether the assassination succeeds.
history  targeted_assassinations  assassinations  chance  autocrats 
november 2011 by jerryking
Yglesias » The Ideological Point Scoring We Need
um, zizekians take note? or not? liberals are still mostly weaksauce, but liberals have mostly been going "yay!" with the conservative tough-guys in amland going "oh noes!!"
american  anti-semitism  autocrats  conservative  delicious-export  dictatorship  freedom  liberalism  masculinity  politics  racism  revolution  rhetoric  solidarity  support  toughness  zizek 
february 2011 by jannon
Manuel Zelaya and the Cult of the Caudillo -
JULY 14, 2009 | Wall street Journal | By DAVID LUHNOW, JOSé DE
CóRDOBA AND NICHOLAS CASEY. The strongman may be Latin America’s most
important contribution to political science. The crisis in Honduras has
many terrified that power-hungry leaders are making a comeback.
Latin_America  Honduras  coups  autocrats 
july 2009 by jerryking

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