09 November 2009

Benevolent Dictators? ~ Kagame, Atatürk, and...

Interesting to read in Cashewman today Manpreet Singh's guest piece Rwanda’s Paul Kagame: The Benevolent Dictator?
"Plato said that the best form of government would be a benevolent dictatorship, and this is, in effect, what Rwanda has. Kagame is officially elected, but he has 95% approval -- indicative of a stifled political process. When I’ve spoken to Rwandan friends about this, no-one has a bad thing to say about Kagame. But it’s hard to have a debate when the opposing voice isn’t allowed to speak."
And this is in the context of strong performance...
"It’s fifteen years after the genocide in Rwanda, and seven years since Paul Kagame assumed office as President. In that time, Rwanda has thrived. Kagame has actively pursued pro-business policies, making Rwanda attractive to international companies, and to large funding organizations. As a result, Rwanda has shown year-on-year GDP growth of over 7%, for the past three years."
Other past transformational strongmen include Atatürk in the post-Ottoman period and the Meiji Restorers in post-Shogunate Japan. And yet we also have tragic failure modes, like what happened with the Shah as he drove for modernization in Iran or more visibly the malevolent dictators of North Korea, Cuba, Zimbabwe, etc. Each seemed to start on a good path and then flipped a bit. What checks & balances are in play in today's Rwanda?

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