Cleveland, July 21 2016: Donald Trump accepts the nomination of the Republican party as its presidential candidate. Unlike his role models listed below, Trump can be in power for only eight years at most. (The Getty Image photo at the left bears some resemblance to Alexander Kahle's promotional still for RKO Picture's Citizen Kane in 1941, directed by and starring Orson Welles.)

These men are making their nations great again

Sorry, Kim Jong-Un: To be on this list, you'll need not only a cult of personality, but also the appearance of being chosen by your loyal subjects as their leader.

Note to Muammar Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein and Hugo Chavez: Yes, your legacy is felt even to this day, but you’re dead now.

Note to Abel Fattah el-Sisi, Robert Mugabe and others: There are bigger headlines in the world right now. I’ll get back to you later; I'm sure you'll still be around.

Here, then, is a short list of notable strongmen of the 21st century, who are all elected into office at some point.

Kremlin.ru / Wikipedia
 

VLADIMIR PUTIN

Years in power: In office since 2000, having exchanged positions with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in 2008 and 2012 to resume the presidency.

What has he been doing:

Seeing his critics assassinated one by one: Boris Nemtsov (2015), Alexander Litvinenko (2006), Anna Politkovskaya (2006), Sergei Magnitsky (2009), Natalia Estemirova (2009), Stanislav Markelov (2009), Anastasia Baburova (2009), Paul Klebnikov (2004), Sergei Yukenkov (2003).

Annexing Crimea, and unofficially allowing the Russian military to support pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, who shot down a commercial airliner with a Russian-supplied missile.

Bombing Bashar al-Assad's enemies in the ongoing civil war in Syria.

Allowing his government to help Russian athletes cheat in drug tests while competing in the 2012 Summer Games in London, and the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.

Hoping for Donald Trump to be elected this November. In an interview with the New York Times, Trump reiterated his position of withdrawing support from NATO members who do not meet their minimums in military spending -- thus leaving the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, all with sizeable Russian communities, vulnerable to Russian incursion a la Georgia and Ukraine. Trump's refusal to help other NATO members who do not "pay up" is contrary to Article 5 of NATO’s founding treaty, which requires all allies to come to the aid of a member under attack. Since the founding of NATO in 1949, Article 5 has been invoked only once, by the United States immediately following September 11, 2001.

Kremlin.ru / Wikipedia
 

BASHAR AL-ASSAD

Years in power: In office since 2000, following the death of his father Hafez al-Assad, who ruled Syria from 1971 until that time.

What has he been doing:

Fighting the ongoing civil war in Syria, which started in 2011 after he ordered violent crackdowns of protesters demanding political reform. Since then, hundreds of thousands of civilians have died, while many more have fled the country. The mass migration of refugees into Europe is stoking nationalist sentiments among the European electorate, empowering far-right movements and bringing them into the political mainstream.

Cancilleria del Ecuador / Wikipedia
 

RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN

Years in power: In office since 2002 as prime minister of Turkey, and then 2014 as president.

What has he been doing:

Silencing the press, by seizing newspapers and prosecuting journalists as terrorists.

Building a lavish palace, where he can role-play as an Ottoman pasha to entertain his guests.

Surviving a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, by calling his supporters to confront rebel soldiers in the streets, resulting in at least 240 dead and thousands injured.

Blaming Fethullah Gulen, an influential cleric living in the U.S. since 1999, as the chief instigator of the failed coup.

Ordering the dismissal of tens of thousands of civilian workers, and the closing of more than 600 schools, in order to cleanse Turkish civic society of Gulen's perceived influence in one fell swoop. Fear is now the prevailing mood in the country, as thousands lose their jobs and face mass arrest.

Hoping for Donald Trump to be elected this November. The Republican presidential nominee can care less about Erdogan's abuse of human rights. When asked about it, Trump said "it's very hard for us to get involved in other countries when we don't know what we are doing and we can't see straight in our own country.":

Sources: Wikipedia (data and photos), BBC (20 July 2016), BBC (21 July 2016), Sky News, The New York Times, The Guardian, CNN

-- CW, 21 July 2016

 

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Black lives do matter! But why do they matter, only when they are lost? (photo courtesy of BBC)

Link: Yes, Black and Blue Lives Matter, and Not Just When They Are Lost (July 8 2016)

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The loss of 84 lives in Nice, France on Bastille Day to a lone attacker not only deepens our fear of terrorists, but mystifies them as well even if it ought not to. (Associated Press)

LInk: The Banality of Terror (July 15-17, 2016)

 

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