A cheat sheet for leaders of the democratic world
Unfortunately, sometimes it becomes necessary to do business with dictators, especially when they claim to be ‘bulwarks’ against a greater evil. Here are seven habits that would serve democracies well while going about that unpleasant business.
1. The dictator would like nothing better than to have you believe that he is your only alternative. Do not allow him to believe that you believe that.
2. Foreign policy based on belief in immortality of a person or the perpetuation of unpopular rule is not pragmatic. Further, do not believe that dictators will ever make way voluntarily for true democracy.
3. Get the dictator to work for you; do not end up doing the dictator’s dirty work for him. Bolster his authority just enough for him to do your work, but steer clear of conferring legitimacy on him. Remember, he needs you more than you need him.
4. Become popular among the people in the dictator’s country. Convince them that you are on their side.
5. Encourage public displays of disapproval in your own country at regular intervals, especially when the dictator comes a-visiting.
6. Allow segments of your own political spectrum to build bridges with opponents (and supporters) of the dictator.
7. Believe in democracy; even if it means a party that is vocally opposed to you rides into power. There is no better way to blunt its opposition than to put it in power.