Previously posted on February 5, 2011, in my Facebook account.
That request came out a very long time ago. From one of my friends (just make it anonymous, okay?), she asked me to write a note in a topic like this:
“what would you do if you were an influential leader?”
Well, fella, in order to be influential, leaders can commit in two paths. One, in totally right ways. Or, two, in right ways, as well, but ‘the right way’ that indirectly gives negative impacts in the long term, to many people. We can’t just simply judge all the leaders around the world as either 100% good or 100% evil, because our souls, as for me, are like two sides of a coin. One is a ‘want-to-do-good-and-make-better’ side, and the other one being ‘want-honor-and-more-power’.
The latter can be the most dangerous, and it has been ‘historically proven’ that in most of the occasions, this penetrated the former side.
What is now happening in Egypt? Millions of people are now demonstrating, demanding that Husni Mubarak (for any mis-spelling, please forgive me) subsequently resign from his presidency. Egypt, despite being hailed as ‘the next under-BRIC potential’ – Western economists even consider CIVETS (Colombia-Indonesia-Vietnam-Egypt-Turkey-South Africa) as ‘mini-BRIC (Brazil-Russia-India-China)’, in the end could not solve even many of the most fundamental problems plaguing the country nowadays. Unemployment prevails at a prevalently high 15%, and more or less, half of its population still live below poverty line.
But the most fundamental problem is authoritarianism. US Government may continuously applaud Egypt as ‘already having democratic regime in North Africa’, but given its strategic location (it is near to Israel, and it is also near the main ‘engine’ of the global economic system – the hundred-billion-barrel oil reserves throughout Middle East), assume that Egypt has been ‘placed’ in such prestigious geopolitical location, won’t the government attempt anything to ensure that ‘Egyptian government must be our own friend’?
The same thing also goes to Indonesia. Thanks to democracy, now I have been much better in expressing my own opinions about this sometimes-good-sometimes-not-really-good country. Between 1966 and 1998, our country witnessed dramatic shifts conducted by then-the-richest-leader-in-the-world Soeharto. When ‘New Order’ took place, Indonesia experienced drastic, accelerative economic growth, and was even hailed by economists as ‘the next Asian tiger’. Until 1997 turned up itself as a storm, a ‘Katrina hurricane’ for Asian economy at that time. Hundreds of banks were liquidated, poverty rate more than doubled, and social chaos was taking place everywhere, until it culminated in May 1998 riots, in which four university students were shot to death during demonstration, and in the following day, there erupted massive riots throughout the whole country. Rumor has it that ‘military’ played a significant role in starting this pogrom, but the answer still remains a void, until this second (nevertheless, this belief has become a widespread public secret within the societies).
This is a main risk of what will happen if a leader rules a country for too long.
I don’t want to explain such this thing in a humdrum manner. I just want you to ‘imagine’. I don’t care whether you are imaginative or not, but just try to think out everything possible of becoming a leader. It’s good if you have very many visions. You want to improve the lives of the most impoverished kids. You want to ensure that all the children can have a brighter future by better education. You want to see every university graduate can obtain a job, adjusted to which subject he or she enrolls in. You want societies, regardless of races, religions, and different aspects, to stay united together, as a whole nation. You want to see every individual becomes fatter (about the fear of cholesterol level, it is recommended that you go for a medical check soon), and you want to see every person prospers.
These are children’s dreams, aren’t they?
But, we know that politics is cruel. The cruelest system in the world that you may even crucify your own family, and everything, in order to succeed in a high, noble, people-feared position. Here the Lucifer begins to cast her deadly spells. Suddenly, you appoint your nearest friends (whether they are competent or incompetent, that depends on ‘you’) into the cabinet positions. Or, you reward ‘concessions’ for your other friends’ families. For example, for Mr.A, “Hey, you, I reward you monopoly in cement!”. Then, for Mr.B, “Hey, you, I reward you monopoly in oil!”. Then, for Mr.C, “Hey, you, I reward you monopoly in underwear-and-bikini-manufacturing business!”. Suddenly you find out that people are getting wrathful because of your policy, then they try to oust you, and in the end, you command the military generals, “Use your tanks, and crush them into meatballs!”. You fear the opposition groups may shake your golden ‘hot seat’ (and, perhaps, the underwear as well), and you impose severe sanctions for them. You again fear the activists may flee to other ‘democratically well-off’ countries, then you recruit someone to kidnap, torture, or assassinate them.
By this method, you have graduated as a ‘dictator’.
But, things are sometimes strange. Authoritarian regimes are often considered as ‘democratic’, and vice versa. Again, try to imagine. You want your Western friends – whenever they visit your countries and want to make assessment – to be assured that you have implemented ‘democracy-friendly’ policies. You allow the opposition parties to have seats in parliaments – but at the same time you have hypnotized the electoral committee to manipulate the vote results, so that your own political party gets its highest place. You don’t want to lose power, because you’ve got too many things to ‘work on about this country’, and you are feared of others’ incompetencies.
To be honest, democracy has its own dangers. What if the people elect a handsome-but-can-not-think leader? Yes, some of the leaders may fear that. But, I could tell you, the others are more convinced about ‘obtaining large amounts of money’, so they may at all costs attempt anything possible to retain their power.
Let’s see from economy perspective. You have been appointed as new leader of your country. Now, assume you lead a poor country. A very poor country. You are now given three options:
A. all people in your country, including you yourself, must work hard together so that your nation will not be considered as ‘poor’ anymore. What about funding? Attract investors as many as you can! Modernize all the people. Teach the cannibalists to farm, and teach the workers to use machines. This is not impossible to achieve, but nations have rarely conducted such these things so far. See Japan and Israel.
B. you remember your old friends. They are smart, they are ambitious, and they have sources of funds. Let’s give the number, a dozen, for example. You assign this dozen of people, each given priorities in certain sectors. And, in the conclusion, you’re creating oligarchy. Doing such kind of things may present its own risks: they can do whatever they like to earn maximum profits. Economy is growing every year, but many people remain poor. See those developing countries.
C. ‘prosperity’ is your only modus operandi to run your authoritarian rule. You impose policies as you like, and you don’t care whether people like these policies or not. (because democracy is strictly prohibited, people have no other choice, but to ‘like’ the policies, just like Facebook ‘like’ menu, in which you can’t ‘dislike’ one thing.) You distribute your political power to your family. Maybe you appoint your wife’s who’s who as Ministry of AAA, your second wife’s son as Secretary of BBB, or your brother as Commissioner of CCC, Inc. In the end, nobody but your family controls your country. See those African countries, and a few in Asia, and few elsewhere.
And the common answer is B. Most of the leaders indirectly opt ‘B’ as the correct answer. You are willing to improve your country, you are willing to improve your nation’s standards, but at the same time, you yourself also concentrate on your own ‘personal agenda’.
These leaders are undecided whether they should focus more on public, or personal, interests. They want to show their countries are ‘influential’ in the eyes of the economists, or the multinational companies, but at the same time they also want to exhibit their own wealth. They want to obtain assets. They want to have shares in companies.
End of the lesson for ‘oligarchy and kleptocracy’.
Shift to another topic. This time, please imagine yourself as a chauvinist. When you were small, you had been fueled by your ‘ultra-nationalist’ thoughts. You consider your nation as superior, the only nation who has authorities to do this and to do that. Now, you are a leader. You lead a big nation, and you have ambition to conquer the entire world. In order to become the strongest and most powerful nation in the world, you need to have weaponry. Bamboos, machetes, spears are not the right choice compared to the fighter jets, tanks, warships, destroyers, and submarines. You need to have a strong, inseparable union of armed forces. Then, you take your people’s hearts. You gather all the best and the brightest people to improve your people. You impose strict rules on people. You wish the young men to get enlisted in the army and ‘crucify’ their lives for the sake of their nation, while you want the young girls to work in factories, or raise the kids in order to be prepared as troops and defenders of the nation. You claim people of other ethnicities, or races, or nationalities as your ‘main enemies’, and you are really, really willing, to obliterate them. You gather people, and you endlessly chant prayers of propaganda to the people to believe that people of other origins from our own are the real enemies, and need to be wiped off the planet. After years and years of propaganda, suddenly you see your people are turning into ‘zombies’. Religious places are boycotted, businesses owned by ‘not-my-nationality’ groups are looted, and your army is turning much more sadistic than before. Again, years and years after, you have created such almost-impossible-to-defeat army, and you prepare an invasion to other countries. You see other countries as ‘having much more potential natural resources which can make our country be more feared at global stage assume we have ousted their governments’, and you relentlessly invade them.
By doing so, you are being faced to three probabilities. Here they are:
A. You are a ‘warfare genius’. You have been continuously thinking about ‘the best solutions, the best solutions, and the most effective solutions’ to oust the governments, and install puppet states in leaps and bounds. You settle large proportions of your population to the new puppet states, and you begin implementing policies which either directly or indirectly lead to the ‘termination’ of other nationalities.
B. You are not a genius, but at least you have ambition. You still have many other geniuses who are extremely loyal to you. And you may rely on them to conquer other nations. You may simply do this and do that, and tell them to expand your own ideas.
C. Again, you are an authoritarian leader. You are even ruthless to your own people. You behave too ‘iron-handed’ on your own nation. You use military as an option to fix up your people, and other nations as well.
If nationalism is pumped into everyone’s minds, in a small dose, that may enhances your country to improve better and better than before. But, just like medicine, if it is given to someone extending the limit it should be, it could turn up very disastrous. You may face two probabilities: your nation turns up too brutal, be willing to grill anybody other than your own nationality, or other nations – particularly, those who are much more powerful than us – may end up smashing us to smithereens. You could be charged for ‘crimes against humanity’, and as a result, you would have ‘free flight’ to Den Haag, and you could stay in the ‘no-cost hotel’ for life. Or you could get executed.
End of the lesson for ‘ultra-nationalism’.
If you are a leader, please be wise to all the people in your country. Get inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, or JFK, or Lincoln, or every leader else in the world who, according to you, have contributed very much for the betterment of the world, despite a few misdeeds.
I don’t care what methods you are going to use to treat your people. But, please note that do everything not only for the sake of your own nation. We share this planet – this single, priceless planet – together with other nations. The most important thing is, make use of your country and this planet greatly.
You may have forgotten all the contents of this note, but please, in the closing sentence, don’t forget my statement, “UNLESS YOU ARE A PURELY 100% REAL LEADER, DON’T NOMINATE YOURSELF IN ANY POLITICAL ELECTIONS. DON’T PUT YOUR PEOPLE’S LIVES AT STAKE.”