Monday, December 03, 2007

The new model dictators: Vlad's bad but Hugo's evil.

And the rise of the new model dictators marches on.

This Sunday, Vlad "the Impaler" Putin impaled his opposition in Russia as his political party United Russia swept to power with a landslide win in the State Duma after assuring that international monitors were no where to be seen, opposition figures like Garry Kaspaorv were safely in jail and millions of Russians were told by their bosses who to vote for -- or else. The only "opposition" Vlad has to worry about now is the Communists, who won 11.6% of the vote. [AP]

Vlad says the elections show a "good example of domestic political stability." [Hear that investors, Russia is open for business. BBC]

For its part the Bush administration issued a stern admonishment to Vlad's blatant overthrow of Russian democracy, which now leaves him in a postion to write his own ticket to ensure his continued rule despite his term running out in May. The administration urged the Russian government to investigate charges that the vote was manipulated. [Ha]

National Security Council spokesperson Gordon Johndroe says, "We expressed our concern regarding the use of administrative resources in support of United Russia, the bias of the state-owned or influenced media in favor of United Russia, [and] intimidation of political opposition."

Wow, Vlad must be really shaking in his boots. Right after he gets done counting all his oil money and starts moving his military towards the borders of former Soviet satellite states, I'm sure he and the rest of his Siloviki (the power guys) brethren will put every effort into easing the concerns of Vlad's democratic soul-mate George W. Bush.

Didn't W., by the way, dedicate his second term to spreading democracy around the world? How's that little project going?

Well, his good buddy Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan issued his "emergency decree" last month, setting his security forces armed with batons upon the political opposition, sacked the country's supreme court, which was about to rule his election invalid, and packed the court with his own hand picked judges who threw out all challenges to his election.

Incidentally, in a humorous twist, the legal reasoning the court used for squashing the opposition's petitions was something called "non-prosecution." In other words, the challenges were invalid because those bringing them to the court were not present. They were in fact put in jail by Musharraf. [See more about this at LTAD]

Not that any of that has deterred the Bush administration from still backing Musharraf. If the W. & Co. are content to have Musharraf simply say he's a great democratic leader now that he's taken off his uniform and set a date for elections, then something tells me the administration' hand wringing over Vlad's state sanctioned coup isn't going to keep the Vladmeister up at nights.

Can you smell the sulfer?

This Sunday in Venezuela, meanwhile, that Satan of South America Hugo "can you smell the sulfur?" Chavez tried pulling a Putin-special by presenting to the Venezuelans his plans for life-time rule and complete take over of the country in a referendum. In this case his gambit failed. Chavez used all the tricks that Vlad did but there is still apparently enough of a democratic hangover in Venezuela that he wasn't able to prevail, despite his many electoral victories in the past.

The US State Department issued a statement saying the Venezuealn people didn't "want any further erosion in their democracy and their democratic institutions." [BBC] Unlike the Russian people who apparently embraced an erosion of democracy. In the case of Vlad, though, we're just simply concerned.

In any case, Hugo is still in power for at least another four years, so his chummy relationship with Fidel and his crazy notions about making American oil corporations pay their fair share for Venezuela's natural resources ought to keep him on the administration's most wanted list for a good time to come.

Our good friends and also new model dictators, the one's who rule with the patina of democratic legitimacy but none of the substance of it, like Ilham Aliyev in Azerbaijan and Condi's buddy from her Chevron days, Nursultan Nayzerbyov, are safe for a while longer.

God may have given the human race the desire for freedom and liberty, but he didn't get around to putting oil and natural gas in many countries with Western-style democracies so, you know, those folks unlucky enough to be born in those resource rich countries will just have to wait for God or another American president to come to their rescue. W. is busy working on his legacy in Iraq. . . I mean, Palestine


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