The twilight of the tyrants:
A list of the ones fallen, and ones left in power. "Dictatorship is fading, but democracy doesn't always replace it.. "Apart from residual communism," argues Bernard Kouchner, the former United Nations administrator in Kosovo, "there are two sources of dictatorship: extreme poverty and oil." Almost all the energy-rich nations in the Middle East and Central Asia figure on Freedom House's list as among the least free in the world. At the same time, 37 of the 49 "not free" countries have an average per capita income of less than $1,500 a year. ..
Washington picks and chooses its targets when it comes to pressing autocrats. "If they don't like a government, such as Mugabe's, then democracy becomes the whipping instrument," says Nega. "They don't use it against governments they do like." Such governments include Ethiopia's ruling People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, which claimed to have won 97 percent of the vote at the last elections, but has the virtue in American eyes of having offered support for the US 'war on terror,' as has Uzbek strongman Islam Karimov. "That is one thing making Africans cynical about Western intentions," argues Nega. "You don't see any principled, consistent policy by the developed countries to push for democracy in Africa." ..
Mr. Palmer, the former US diplomat, who has just published the book "Breaking the Real Axis of Evil: How to Oust the World's Last Dictators by 2025," agrees. "The key question is, have we actually changed? and I don't see any hard evidence beyond the rhetorical statements," he says. When the Saudi Arabian authorities arrested several hundred people protesting in Riyadh for greater political freedoms in October, Palmer recalls, "the State Department did nothing and said nothing." ..
"There are more interesting forms of international intervention than the use of military force," notes Ackerman. Milosevic's departure was bloodless because repressive security forces dropped their loyalty to his government. "We have to tell dictators that if they don't let their people communicate freely, we won't let them communicate outside their countries, that if they won't allow their people to travel, we won't let them travel," Ackerman argues. "As people understand that dictators have tremendous vulnerabilities that can be exploited non-violently, the international community will get more innovative." 12:26:09 PM