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article imageOp-Ed: Dictators hang on to power while the world looks on

By André R. Gignac     Aug 21, 2012 in World
It is said that dictators hang on to power and kill for it because they are psychopaths and paranoid narcissists. Fine. But that does not explain why the world simply looks on.
In the opening scene of the television series “Boss”, Chicago mayor Tom Kane (Kelsey Grammer) learns he has Lewy Body Dementia. He is told he has a couple of years left, maybe less, maybe more, and that he should start arranging his papers while his brain is still in a cooperating mood. Already, there are signs of what's to come: his hands are trembling and reality is sometimes mingling with hallucinations. It will get worse, much worse.
You'd think that a person who learns that he will gradually lose his mind before death comes as a deliverance would indeed start putting some order in his affairs. That he would also, for example, transfer the heavy responsibilities of his public job to someone else, start reflecting on the meaning of certain things, write letters to friends and foes, maybe even travel for a little while, and when returning home take time to live the life he has left while preparing for the inevitable.
But no.
Without saying a word to anyone, not even his wife, Mayor Tom Kane tries desperately to hang on to power. Worse still, he persists with renewed energy in cheating voters, hurting his family and his friends; he continues creating miserable monsters out of almost every person in his entourage; he silences foes and witnesses, kills some opponents and even publicly betrays his own daughter.
It is easy to remind oneself that it is, after all, another television show.
Or is it?
Tom Kane’s criminal behaviour is in fact a made-for-tv take on the political reality of our world, past and present. It is the same sick craving for power that has given us the Marcoses, Ceausescus, Mugabes, Gaddafis, Mubaraks, Assads, a slew of African dictators and more to come, who are stepping down only after their country has been painted blood red and their population visited by the worst misery.
I know, the question is extraordinarily naïve: but what is it, exactly, besides the corrupting effect of power, that these monsters feel they have yet to accomplish by stubbornly refusing to go away even when their own population have taken up arms against them, or when their palaces are bombed by NATO (or anyone else for that matter)? Why are they hanging on like this, after some 20, 30 or 40 years in power? Why won’t they just heed the writings on the wall, pack up their hidden treasures and the millions of dollars stolen from their citizens, and retire in peace – and with all their limbs – in one of the many countries always at the ready to offer them asylum?
Why more suffering, more killing, more torture, before they finally go away or are pushed out or killed?
I was asking myself these questions when I found this article in Time: apparently, most of the leaders in question are psychopaths, paranoid narcissists, and they are going through some “extraordinary circumstances of holding absolute power”.
So now we know. Alas, one question remains unanswered: Why is the world taking so long to do something besides moaning in fifteen UN resolutions? Why is Bashar al Assad allowed to continue killing and torturing his own people, women and children first, while the “international community” sends in people to… look on? Remember Srebrenica, anyone?
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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