I complain often about my government here in the United States and I have that freedom to do so but I try not to take it for granted. Left or right, up or down, we have had and still have some major issues. Common sense is replaced with political contributions and everyone thinks they are going to be wealthy someday so they support stupid and greedy decisions that they can only dream one day will impact them. But then I look at other countries in the world and remind myself that it can be much worse. Far worse. By most standards, the USA is a great place to live in comparison to much of the world. Our food is killing us. Our roads are crumbling. We smile while putting a poison like fluoride in our waters. We sacrifice lives for corporate shareholder prices. Our faltering education system is putting us in lower and lower rankings of the worlds population…
And then I stop and remember. At least we have food. We have roads. We have options for education. We can find clean water. We can drive gas guzzlers so that millions of people weren't repressed, deprived and murdered for nothing. We could choose to just start ignoring the stock market and insurance companies to build things again to sell and trade with each other in our own towns. We could go back to doing real hold-in-your-hand things like the way the country was built upon. Many countries don't have any of these things outside of the mansion of a lone individual who rules with violence, repression and fear.
I won't be getting any more holiday cards from their tourism boards but here is my list of the worst countries, their dictator leader and why they are still propped up. Many of these countries could be interesting places to visit if it were ever possible to do so safely. In some of them, your safety depends on your gender or the color of your skin.
Sudan, Omar al-Bashir
We hear occasional references to Darfur and the war crimes committed here. Millions of people driven from their homes with countless of them murdered, raped and tortured. Celebrities talk about it and politicians use it in campaigns until they are elected.
But instead we give them lots of money. An amount with eight zeroes behind it. The world has to have it's gum arabic or acacia for the magic syrup in soda pop and candy. This same product is used in inks, glues, polish and more. Yummy. What would Coke, Pepsi, gummies and M & M's candies do without it? (What would I do without Coke and M & M's?) What would we do without water color paints and lithographs? This gum acacia product also comes from Somalia, which is another less than stellar example of conflicts and rights issues.
Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe
In power since 1980, this regime fosters violence, rapes, disease and poverty. A held election was fake and lead to the murders of opposition so it was rather pointless. The US gets a good deal on imports of nickel and ferrochromium, which is a corrosion-resistant alloy of chrome and iron, for stainless steel so we don't mind.
Kim Jong-Il, North Korea
In power since 1994, Kim Jong-Il could be in poor health is not very visible these days. His regime puts on a poor man's Disney theme park in a sense that false building fronts make things look better than they are. People are repressed and along with children are imprisoned in work camps. The world doesn't seem to care too much about what is happening here as long they don't have weapons or rigid marching formations that endanger Japan or South Korea.
Burma, Than Shwe
In power since 1992, this military regime will take advantage of a natural disaster like the Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar and leave millions homeless and over a hundred thousand dead. They do nothing and resist aid from other countries.
Iran, Sayyid Ali Khamenei
In power since 1989, this regime resists all opposition with violence and arrests of anyone it doesn't like or disagrees with at that moment. From women to journalists to minorities and children, all are denied rights and abused. The world's youngest death penalty exists here, killing children as young as nine years old. The US makes a ton of money off Iran selling it corn and pharmaceutical products. And we all know how big the drug lobby is in politics. With mostly just talk, the US will probably only really act if it decides the war machine is more profitable than the drug machine.
Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah
Oil. Yes! Women's rights. No! Women can not work, marry, learn, leave their house, travel or speak without permission from a guardian male. Accused rights. No! Defendants have no rights and usually can't even question witnesses or accusers. Oil. Yes!
As long as there is oil dependence, nothing will be done here about anything. And it's tentacles spread out. No one really wants to find Osama Bin Laden because of the royal family connections.
China, Hu Jintao
China put on a great Olympics show. You almost couldn't see all the repression and rights restrictions behind it.
Go to the Port of Chinangeles, also known as the Port of Los Angeles, sometime and look out over all the shipping containers. You can do this before departing on a cruise from there as well. China nearly owns the future United States of Walamerichinamart. It is more likely they will be repressing us in the future than anything changing with their rights record.
Libya, Muammar al-Qaddafi
Oil. Yes! In power since 1969 with torture about as common as any of our national pastimes. Yes! Billions and billions of dollars of oil. Yes!
So it appears from this list that if the US reduced oil consumption, drank less sugar water, stopped buying cheap crap at Wal-Mart and actually made it's own products like it once did, all these guys would be out of their mansions and serving us as repressed staff on our next cruise to the Bahamas.