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Behold, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed

To quote Axel Oxenstierna. While this could well apply to any number of governments, including our own, this came to mind while reading about the deeply deranged Saparmurat Niyazov of Turkmenistan in the Telegraph.

I already knew about his predilections for making the populace study his political 'thought' and for erecting statues of himself, but he has now made pay grades and employment status for teachers dependent on getting articles praising him published in the press. Furthermore, "no reporters are permitted to mention that the President is a very short man (5'1", approx. 154 cm), or that he wears a toupee" (source).

While this sounds mildly amusing, it gets much, much worse:

"Knowledge of the Rukhnama makes up the vast majority of the school syllabus. Even medical students must spend most of their time learning from it. The only other author they are allowed to read is the 11th century Persian physician Avicenna. Hospitals outside the capital have been closed and surgeons ordered to work in the cotton fields. As a result, Turkmenistan has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world, with babies and children dying from misdiagnosis and wrongly administered medicines".

I trust that the unfortunate Turkmen will be rid of this evil man before too long.

Meanwhile, I've had a mull on sundry other lesser known insane presidents and so forth.

Francisco Solano Lopez of Paraguay deserves a mention. He had the brilliant idea of declaring war on Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay in the pursuit of access to the sea. The war was lost, at the cost of substantial territorial loss and upwards of 60% of the population.

Jean-Bédel Bokassa also merits his place in the hall of infamy for declaring the Central African Republic (perhaps the world's least inspired name for a country) an Empire with himself, natch, the Emperor with his coronation costing one third of the Empire's annual budget.

Enver Hoxha had 300 000 one man concrete bunkers built - equivalent to one for every five Albanians, and banned facial hair, flares and Americans inter alia. Radio Tirana used to be a source of much amusement when on holiday (I could never pick it up here), and made Moscow, Warsaw etc seem positively flippant . Way back lost in the mists of time I read an article in The Times, I think, which suggested the only entertainment to be had from it was trying to guess which regime it would denounce next. Turns out The Thunderer had it all wrong: "Radio One Tirana also provided weather forecasts that, for various reasons, were designed to be inaccurate and thus disrupt economic activity in the UK".

Perhaps I'll add to this later.

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Blogger Peter Hitchens said... 4:33 pm

Let us not forget that Enver Hoxa also inflicted Norman Wisdom upon his people, surely a crime against humanity Mr grimsdale.
I was amused to read that Norman has just been ejected from a theatrical rest home due to his making unwelcome nocturnal visits to the bedrooms of other guests. Similar thing happened in a home an uncle of mine was in, the inmates were banned alcohol after one old chap got pissed and kept trying to climb into bed with some of the old ladies, Uncle Jess defiantly argued that seeing as he wasn't attracted to women over the age of 50 (he was 97) he should be allowed the odd bottle of whiskey in his room.  

Blogger istanbultory said... 4:58 pm

A personal favourite of mine.
Mobutu Sese Seko, the demented president of Zaire from 1965-97.
Remember the leopard skin hat and glasses and the mao-suits?
The man famous for saying "In a word, everything is for sale, anything can be bought in our country" and “Who taught us corruption? I believe it was you, frankly... It's an import. “ (In an interview with a French reporter).
Mobutu was naturally enough called "Father of the Nation," "Savior of the People," and "Supreme Combatant. "
Master of Zaire and purveyor of public executions, bribery, theft and corruption on a gargantuan scale, not to mention his genocidal tendencies and a penchant for having his opponents tortured to death (by the removal of one limb at a time)He was a bona fide anti-communist so the West left him in place for 32 years. Bizzarely, many Zaireans now increasingly feel nostalgic for Mobutu's rule.  

Blogger Peter Hitchens said... 6:29 pm

I miss Idi Amin,
Although I think Saddam is my all time favourite despot, I remember seeing a video of him meeting his "supporters", firing an AK into the air, fishing with hand grenades and in another scene giving some bloke in a godforsaken village advice on how to properly clean a carpet and to top it all he loved quality street sweets.
Top bloke.  

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