The Dictator’s Guide to Staying in Power

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“It transcends religion, culture, and geography. A Muslim Arab Bashar al-Assad is just as likely to follow it as a Christian African Robert Mugabe or a Buddhist East Asian Than Shwe.” So begins Jim Sciutto’s description of what he calls the Police State Playbook in an essay in World Affairs. The script, Sciutto explains, is predictable whenever a dictator feels power slipping away but desperately tries to cling to it.

Since covering the “Saffron Revolution” in Myanmar in 2007, Scuitto has noticed the same tactics used again and again, no matter the part of the world or race or religion of those in power. Tactics like restricting internet use, blaming foreigners, and violently breaking up protests with paid thugs are implemented no matter where you are. “I sometimes smile at the sheer lack of creativity.” Scuitto writes. “How could these very powerful dictators be so obvious?”

Though the actions of these regimes are nothing to actually smile about, Scuitto points to a trend that does give cause for (guarded) optimism:

The Police State Playbook does not perhaps carry the biblical authority that it once did. In the information age, “big lies” are easier to debunk….

Watching the Arab Spring, I have sometimes thought that a People Power Playbook is being written too, as demonstrators have blended peaceful protest with new technology to write their own, powerful treatise.

Read more of the basic lessons of the Police State Playbook, including “Conspiracy Theories Always Work” and “Weakness Is Death.”

Source: World Affairs

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