The (Bad) Boys’ Club

“Remember all men would be tyrants if they could.” That is a quote from a March 1776 letter Abigail Adams wrote to her husband John. I’m not sure that is completely true, but it seems to me that all the world’s current tyrants and wannabe tyrants are male. If you, like the majority of my readers, is an American you can do something about not allowing the membership of the club to grow.

The current club – and I may have missed a few members – consist of (in no particular order) Vladimir Putin of Russia, Recep Erdogan of Turkey, Viktor Orban of Hungary, Kim Jung-un of North Korea, Xi Jinping of China, Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus, Bashar al-Assad of Syria and Ali Khamenei of Iran. They are of different relative strengths within the club but all are a threat to democracy.

Putin is the leader. His is the most aggressive of the powerful evil nations and the most bent on taking over its neighbors. In fact, other than being a domestic tyrant the only global power Lukashenko has is his puppet of Putin’s status. He is Belarus’ original president having served in that office since its inception in 1994. That’s a long time to stay in power; he is a survivor.

Erdogan crushed a rebellion to stay in power and hasn’t let up on his people since. Turkey is a key player in both Europe and the Middle East being the “bridge” between the two. It has one of the most powerful militaries in the region. Turkey is a member of NATO. The good news in that is that its geography (at least theoretically) can be used. The bad news is that it often likes to throw sand in the gears of the organization and I’m among the many who simply doesn’t trust its current leadership. It was the second to last holdout to Sweden joining NATO. It is a classic play both sides simultaneously country.

Somewhat similar is Viktor Orban and Hungary. Hungary is currently the only stumbling block to Sweden joining NATO. Who is that helping if not Putin? The American extreme, with the help of Donald Trump and Fox News, has turned him into a hero.

Going to the far east of Asia we have two dictators of the first degree. China – which is both a military and economic powerhouse – is led by Xi Jinping. Under Xi China is constantly looking to expand its global reach and influence. Xi is somewhat tempered by other powerful players in the Chinese Communist Party and domestic economics, but only somewhat. Americans largely ignore Africa (we will pay the price for that in the not that distant future) but China certainly doesn’t. Who suffers? The poor of Africa.

Economically North Korea is a basket case but Kim Jung-un rules it with an iron fist. If he lost Chinese and to a lesser degree Russian support the country would collapse but with nukes he might exit in a very noisy manner. Unlike some of the other bad boys he doesn’t appear to be mentally stable or rational. Is that why Trump likes him?

That leaves us with the bad boys of the Middle East. If you think American politics is wild, it is boringly tame compared to Israeli politics. Netanyahu, who most analysts figure politically is history when the current conflict ends, is extremely hard right and apparently corrupt. Keep in mind he is power-hungry, can justify anything (verbally anyway) and has nuclear arms. I simply don’t trust him especially if he feels cornered.

Assad has used weapons of mass destruction on his own people to stay in power and even today does not control all the territory in his country. This is not a guy I’d trust for a moment.

MBS controls Saudi Arabia regardless of what the “organizational chart” says. He is not above killing a citizen outside his borders and controls a huge amount of wealth. He is flat out dangerous!

I don’t know that there is a westerner alive today who truly understands Iran; and if there is it is certainly not me. Ali Khamenei has been the true leader of Iran since 1989 and shows no signs of relinquishing that position. More so than any other Middle Eastern county Iran works through proxy terrorist organizations that it funds, trains and exercises at least some control over.

Donald Trump is running for reelection to the American presidency. He desperately wants to join the club. Under him NATO would collapse. Legal or not he will effectively withdraw from it rendering it much, much weaker. With the Russian backed (via disinformation) Brexit the EU is already weakened. What happens if it further collapses?

The best we might be able to hope for with a weakened West is that the bad boys started to pick each other off and somehow all self-destruct in the process. That’s not much to hang your hat on and think of all the innocent people who would suffer (and possibly die) in the process. The best way to hurt the club is to prevent the reelection of Trump. That is something you can do something about.

I don’t think Mrs. Adams was totally correct; but she on to something.

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