Dan Goodman's prediction and politics journal.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

A Shortage of Quality Dictatorships

For most of the 20th Century, Americans had foreign dictatorships to admire. For the left, there was the Soviet Union; when it became less Stalinist, there were China, Cuba and Nicaragua. For the right, after it became unfashionable to admire Nazi Germany there were Spain, South Africa, Rhodesia, and Chile.

But I haven't read or heard such admiration recently, from left or right. Apologies for foreign dictatorships, yes -- for example, the claim that Cuba's economic problems are entirely due to US policies. But not admiration. What changed?

My guess: there aren't any dictatorships which are perceived as being strong. Military strength? They look too vulnerable to the US on one side and unregistered terrorists on the other. Economic strength? Except for Singapore (which shows disturbing signs of succumbing to democracy), none seem to be doing well. [I think this is partly because of a shift in fashionable economic indicators; ability to run steel mills doesn't count for much when what people are looking at is computer technology. Improved economic information may also be a factor.]
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