What’s the difference between a dictator that does no harm and a democratically elected leader that does no good?
I am very happy for countries to be moving towards democracy if that is the will of the people, but I think that America has gone around the world selling an idea that democracy will cure all problems and clearly this could not be further from the truth. Of course it is the least worst form of government, but as we have seen in many African nations it is not the solution that many people wish it was.
Ghana is hailed as one of the best democracies in Sub-Saharan Africa as evidenced by the losers going home after a loss albeit a close one. But then you have their neighbor, Ivory Coast whose loser Laurent Gbagbo refuses to leave office, edging closer and closer to civil war as I type. In Zimbabwe, elections are held but it is obvious that Robert Mugabe continues to rig elections and crush dissent whenever possible. Nearly 50 people were recently arrested under the suspicion that they were going to attempt to overthrow Mugabe because they were watching news clips of the uprisings in north Africa and the middle east.
There are also questions of who are actually democratically elected leaders versus dictators that steal elections and are propped up by the west. One such example is Yoweri Museveni, Uganda’s recently reelected leader, who after eliminating term limits in 2005 happily walked into his fifth term as president in February. Did the majority of the people vote for him, yes (this time. the last two elections were not so clear cut). Has he maintained Uganda’s economic growth, yes. Has he reduced HIV/Aids prevalence in the country, maybe (he is credited with doing so). So the question is should he be ousted because his staying in office is not very democratic or should he remain in place because of his seemingly positive track record? He like many others when he entered office proclaimed, ” the problems of Africa, and Uganda in particular, are caused by leaders who overstay in power.” Oh the irony. The west has never questioned whether or not Museveni is a legitimate leader, moreover, he was a darling of the Bush administration. But this is nothing new. The United States knew that Mubarak was a dictator but never questioned their close ally. They never outright asked for him to step down, but suggested that the will of the people be acknowledged. Now Qaddafi who is not an ally has the President of the United States calling for him to step down immediately and also preparing military options in case the rebels call on the US for help. But I guess we can just chalk this up to foreign policy/
I hope for the sake of those in the middle east, that the people who are elected to replace the dictators do not them themselves become dictators like so many before and if they do, hopefully they will be benevolent dictators like our friends in Singapore.