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The fact that the king of Swaziland could denounce human rights in a radio address, but still felt it necessary to put them in the country's new constitution (see previous post), is a nice example of how liberal democracy sets the terms of discourse in today's geopolitical climate, even for regimes that reject it. Nobody doubts that Saddam Hussein is a dictator, but yet he still went through the charade of an election every so often -- a common tactic, as are staged pro-government rallies. The most bizarre example I've come across recently is Saparmurat Niazov's crackdown on graduation parties. Instead of just banning them, he engineered a "grassroots" letter-writing campaign to "pressure" him into taking action. I guess it's some sort of victory that these regimes feel the need to put on such a farce.


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