The International Writers Magazine: Comment
Who's your oppressor?
James Skinner - international
terror and corruption
Another great gulf
between the USA and Europe is the attitude taken by both sides towards
modern day dictators. If we skip common bygone enemies such as Hitler
and Stalin during WWII and take into consideration the subsequent battle
against Communism during the Cold War a very different scenario emerges.
In fact as we enter the XXI century, there are political factions within
Europe that consider President George Bush a dictator who is spreading
a new era of American imperialism throughout the world.
So what is a dictator anyway! Whenever I face a complex essay I revert
to a basic definition to kick off the debate. I quote from the Oxford
Dictionary. Dictator: a ruler with total power over a country,
typically one who has obtained power by force. Wow! Have we got
a can of human worms out there running the universe! How about starting
with the most recent demise in the Middle East, Yasser Arafat.
I am not going to elaborate on this particular ruler as James Campion
has already sorted him out in another article in Hacks. I will only
add that in the eyes of half the world he was a ruthless dictator dominating
the Palestinians and to others he was a charismatic freedom fighter
trying to liberate the same downtrodden lot the Israelis were
bashing the hell out of. On to Israeli then. Is Ariel Sharon a dictator?
Again, the same old argument. It depends who likes or hates Israel,
although Sharon was elected democratically into office. And this is
the crux of the matter. When does an elected ruler become a ruthless
one and thus labelled as a dictator? Lets hit the history trail
starting with Latin America.
Cuba, pearl of the Caribbean, land of tropical fruit, sandy beaches,
beautiful people, cigars and Fidel. Yes, good old bearded Fidel Castro,
the one and only. Here we have a genuine case of a so-called ruthless
ruler that forced his way into power by ousting yet another corrupt
dictator, Batista and imposed his authoritarian brand of socialism to
feed and educate his people. He made one mistake, he rattled Uncle Sams
chain once too often and has been ostracized by the yanks ever since.
But what about Europe? The Popes been there to visit him, Spains
King has been there, and a great deal of European business is carried
out with the old guy. So why the difference in attitude? Does Europe
consider him a dictator? Officially yes, but then it depends on whom
you talk to. Lets move on to another couple of geezers that took
over by force, Chiles Pinochet and Argentinas Galtieri.
Now here you have the opposite effect. Apart from Britains Maggie
Thatcher who ironically loved the former and hated the latter, the US
administration buttered up to both of them in the so called purge
of communism in Latin America back in the 70s. Pinochet shot his
way into power, ousting the then elected Chilean President Allende whilst
Galtieri just took over from a succession of former military dictators
ruling Argentina since the 40s. Uncle Sam loved them both. Europe,
on the other, not only condemned them, or their regimes, they actually
started a whole set of court proceedings to put the bastards behind
bars. Yet there is a subtle difference between the two. Despite Pinochets
rule of iron, he did put Chiles economy back into the black and
together with Galtieri rid the Southern Cone of communist terrorism.
But Argentina was far from being financially solvent. Instead Galtieri
decided to invade the Falkland Islands and ended up going to war with
Britain in 1982. Isnt that a mixed bag of dictators and a love-hate
relationship with superpowers, namely USA and Europe? What about General
Noriega dominating Panama in the 80s?
This guy was becoming too hot to handle as a drug dealer, sexual maniac
and general piss artist. Being a small country with not much to offer,
Europe hardly knew his name; there was no commotion on this side of
the pond. But the USA had other thoughts on their mind. The Panama canal!
Thanks to Jimmy Carter striking a deal with the then dictator Omar Torrijos,
the canal was due to be handed over to the Panamanians and the hand
over date was not far off. They could not allow a cuckoo to be in charge.
America soon took care of the guy by sending in the 7th cavalry and
whisking him back behind bars in a US prison. He is still rotting in
jail and the country is now back to so-called democracy. Where was Europe?
As long as the off shore banking system was intact, they could not care
less. How about the ones who get democratically elected and then turn
into dictators? Who judges this lot? ! Ah democracy! That wonderful
word misused by all and sundry.
We have poor old Arestide in Haiti, who in the 90s was supposedly
elected by the people only to be forced out some years later by US backed
UN forces and sent packing to some unknown African state to rot. He
had turned from a democratic leader to an authoritarian one. Haiti was
too close to the USA for comfort, and like Cuba was a geographic problem.
Once again, Europe was not too interested although it gave Spain an
excuse to butter up to the US, following the withdrawal of Spanish troops
from Iraq. It sent Spanish peacekeepers together with Moroccan
ones to help restore law and order once the Haitian priest, come president
was banished from office. Hold it right there! Morocco? A King, Hassan
II, rules this country. He is not elected to office through suffrage
but by inheritance. Are kingdoms considered as dictatorships or not?
This is a good question. What was the Shah of Iran then? When he was
ruling over this oilproducing Middle Eastern country, he decided
in the early 70s to treble the price of oil. The backlash was
that both Europe and the USA bent over backwards to pick up the lucrative
business contracts the bastard was handing out. Yet they never tried
to overthrow him? I wonder why? Hum! This time it was oil that kept
him in power. All nice and dandy until the French decided to pull the
rug from under the rest of the greedy European and US money makers.
They sent in the Ayatollah Khomeini who had been scheming a religious
coupe for years in his luxurious flat in Paris. This country from the
old continent actually thought that they would be considered
heroes and take over in Tehran. We all know what happened in the end.
Khomeini gave two fingers to everyone.
This now opens the door to the whole gambit of Islamic governments.
Kings, Sheiks, Ayatollahs, Mullahs, Talibans and all sorts of non-democratic
rule are going on in this part of the world. Are they considered as
dictatorships? Again, depends on what looking glass European and American
Finally we can name a similar number of African and Far Eastern governments
that fall into the category of ruthless dictatorships and once again
are treated differently by both Europe and the USA depending on each
powers interest in the region. What is my conclusion? Hypocrisy,
one mans beast is anothers hero. Whichever way you analyse
it, the history of world control will always remain dependant on what
drives one nation to befriend or befoul another, regardless of its rulers.
It usually boils down to money, plain old greenbacks.
(And now England will be playing cricket against Mugabes team
Sport for Dictators now theres a tale) Ed
© James Skinner. November 17th 2004.
James Skinner on the 1958 musical
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