Parade Magazine, the inserted Sunday magazine in a wide swath of the nation's newspapers, just published "The World's 10 Worst Dictators." They add 11 through 20 here. Rankings always make for a good time, don't they? Why should dictators be exempt?
(As a side note-- if you are ever looking for comedy online, read the comments by readers at the bottom of articles like this one. Someone out there has to filter these, so you know they have to have a sense of humor about them. I particularly like this jewel: "Read Noam Chomsky or Michael Moore if you can not read articles of Nelson Mandela." That might be the best sentence I've read all year.)
Anyway, here's the breakdown by region: Africa 7, Non-Southeast Asia 4, Southeast Asia 3, Middle East 3, Europe 2, and North America/Caribbean 1. I'd be willing to bet that, Israel witheld, if you were to rank the same regions in terms of development assistance received, you'd get an order that would be pretty similar.
But what about these particular countries under the rule of these particular despots? Are they getting development aid in the face of horrific rights atrocities? Well, a quick visit to the World Bank's World Development Indicators shows that the DAC has given money to every single one of these regimes. Some examples are below. If there's enough demand for it, I'll put up the data for all twenty dictators with their respective U.S. shares.
And how does the United States fit into the mix? Studies have shown that the U.S. tends to give development assistance primarily for the pursuit of democracy, so it would be surprising if the U.S. gave any significant amount of money to these leaders.
Yet they have-- and quite a bit in some cases. The DAC figures include all money given from the 23 member countries, but USAID gives just the U.S. portions. I like to think of the resulting percentage as the share of dictatorship that the United States has bought into for each country.
Foreign aid doesn't cause economic development-- Bauer liked to say that money was the result of growth, not the precursor to it. Despite the wishful thinking of first-world countries, aid doesn't cause democracy either.
1) Omar al-Bashir, Sudan. $6.31 billion in aid, $1.04 billion from the United States, for a 16.5% share.
2) Kim Jong-il, North Korea. $1.07 billion in aid, $581.5 million from the U.S., for a 54.3% share.
3) Than Shwe, Burma (Myanmar). $1.26 billion in aid, $31.8 million from the U.S., for a 2.5% share.
4) Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe. $7.41 billion in aid, $1.13 billion from the U.S., for a 15.3% share.
5) Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan. $1.5 billion in aid, $385.4 million from the U.S., for a 25.7% share.
8) Saparmurat Niyazov, Turkmenistan. $348 million in aid, $143.4 million from the U.S., for a 41.2% share.
12) King Mswati III, Swaziland. $698 million in aid, $155.1 million from the U.S., for a 22.2% share.
13) Isayas Afewerki, Eritrea. $1.97 billion in aid, $364.8 million from the U.S., for a 18.5% share.
14) Aleksandr Lukashenko, Belarus. $702 million in aid, $153.5 million from the U.S., for a 21.9% share.
17) Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan. $6.59 billion in aid, $1.11 billion from the U.S., for a 16.9% share.
18) Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia. $8.2 billion in aid, $1.86 billion from the U.S., for a 22.7% share.