The Profile of a Dictator
Fr. Shay Cullen
15 March 2018
History is full of tyrants and dictators. Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Mao Ze Dong are among the worst in past history but today dictatorship is increasingly on the rise. True democracy is in retreat as elected officials turn to dictatorship as a way to stay in power and rule with an iron fist and declare they will save their nation from evil and make the nation great. Putin, Erdoğan, Omar Al-Bashir, Kim Jong II are just a few of many that come to mind.
Dictators love to conduct wars, to issue threats, to present themselves as the strong person they are not, to imprison their critics, to change the constitution, to rule with authoritarian decrees, manipulate rubber stamp parliaments or congresses. They plot to remain in power indefinitely, to enrich themselves, to grow corrupt and vindictive, to insult their perceived enemies, to brand critics as terrorists and to rule with fear and oppressive decrees.
Tyrants and dictators assign blame to others for their failures and for social problems they persecute and kill their imagined enemies. They can be misogynists and even traitors. Others change laws to eliminate rivals and curb the independent power of the judiciary.
They love power and abuse it to dominate and control others and preserve their ill-gotten wealth, protect their entitlements, privileges, and deviant pleasures. They use bribery, vote-buying and the sharing of ill-gotten wealth to buy support and consolidate political power for their family dynasty and cronies. They use the police and military to oppress and intimidate their opponents, dissidents and protestors. They cast a mantel of fear and threat that covers the population like the darkness of night and brings on the dawn of silence and paralysis of dissent. Such are the cruel tactics of a tyrant dictator.
In Poland and Hungary, we see some of these authoritarian tendencies as they pass laws to cripple the judiciary so the politicians will be immune from investigation. We have the powerful Chinese leader Xi Jinping getting the constitution changed so he can remain in office indefinitely. Human rights violations are common practice.
Bashar al-Assad, president of Syria, is branded a war criminal for bombing with Russian help and killing and torturing thousands of his own people to stay in power. The worst dictator of our time.
President Donald Trump is a dictator in the making. He is campaigning for a second term when he has already destroyed his credibility and is facing sex abuse charges by many women and possible treason or impeachment for allowing foreign powers like Russia to subvert the election process and help get him elected. He says he approves torture and has appointed a new head of the CIA who is notorious for supporting horrific torture of suspects in the past.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey is now a dictator who gave himself additional power through an alleged rigged referendum, bringing journalists and critics to court on trumped up charges and jailing them. He allegedly tortures opponents branding them terrorists. He wages war in Northern Syria.
Sudan’s President Omar Al-Bashir has an international arrest warrant out for him issued by the International Criminal Court to be arrested anywhere to face charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
President Vladimir Putin of Russia is a “strong-man” dictator twelve years in power and going again for another six years having taken over control of all media, silenced his opponents, barred them from elections and allegedly killed journalists. He is accused of murdering former spies in the UK with Russian military-made nerve poison and radioactive substance. He wages war by proxy in the Ukraine and annexed The Crimea.
The Maldives, the so-called Indian Ocean island paradise so popular with Japanese and western tourists, is ruled by a dictator president Abdulla Yameen who has declared his deposed former president a terrorist, arrested two court justices and is mired in corruption allegations.
The list goes on and we see the suffering of the victims wherever the tyrant takes more and more power. Human suffering, poverty, deprivation and social and personal injustice mire the land, plague the cities and infect the population of a dictatorship. Economic disruption, inequality and a cloud of great sadness and pain descend to cover all in misery like soot from a polluting chimney. Such is the dire outcome of dictatorship. The dictators have their supporters and hanger-ons who seek rewards and a share of the ill-gotten wealth, petty power and privilege.
The answer to dictatorships is to spread true awareness and enlightenment among the people. Provide social and political education with the truth and organize people’s cooperatives and opposition parties when possible. Peaceful and legitimate people power movements can change corrupt regimes without bloodshed or massacres. Working daily for justice and human rights, supporting the dignity of the people in every dire circumstance are steps towards freedom from dictatorship. Above all, courage and commitment to the truth and justice is what brings peace and liberty.