Amidst all the tensions on the Korean peninsula there is another worry that nobody has mentioned. The North Korean leader may be rational, as some analysts have stated, and may realise that starting a war would mean the end of his regime. However, he is obviously a narcissist and probably a sociopath as well. He is also intelligent. As the sanctions begin to bite and reduce the money flow to his regime he may well consider the possibility of selling nukes and missiles to terrorist organisations. That way he gets money and can start a nuclear horror without his regime immediately being blamed.
This possibility is a very scary one and if the Trump government in Washington has realised it, that could be behind their apparent keenness for the military option. It must persuade China of the imminent danger.
The Rohingya Muslims, Same sex marriage and North Korea
Some complex and seemingly intractable problems can have relatively simple solutions. The Rohingya Muslims are fleeing Myanmar because of apparent army violence towards them. These people have been living in Myanmar for generations yet are stateless because Myanmar will not grant them citizenship despite their being born in the country. Myanmar does not want these people and Bangladesh doesn’t have the room or resources to take them.
A possible solution would be for the Myanmar government to cede a certain amount of land to Bangladesh in return for taking all the Rohingyas. Myanmar would also need to provide Bangladesh with some financial assistance so that the latter country could properly settle the newcomers. Although there is no likelihood that the Myanmar military and government would consider this option it would certainly be preferable to ongoing violence and internecine strife. This desperate and impoverished people, if not aided, would certainly provide a fertile recruiting ground for Islamic extremists such as ISIS.
The same sex marriage debate has raged in Australia for many months and the government has just wasted more than 122 million dollars on the conduct of a voluntary, non-binding postal poll. The government could have run an online poll at virtually no cost and then simply done its job through the parliament. In reality this expensive farce is because Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is afraid of Tony Abbott’s conservative faction within the Liberal Party.
The debate about same sex marriage is simply a question of semantics. As long as all couples receive the same rights, duties and obligations the name isn’t really that important. To keep the churches and conservative people happy without alienating or denying the rights of the LGBTI community we could simply have two forms of marriage on certificates. We could have “Marriage D” (for different sex couples) and “Marriage S” (for same sex couples). Everything else would be the same. Wedding celebrants and ministers of religion can already refuse to wed any couples who don’t fit in with their views. The Catholic Church and some others will not allow people who have been divorced to marry in their churches.
North Korea and its nuclear tests and frequent missile launches have been in the news and rattled financial markets to an extent lately. It would seem that Kim Jong Un wants to ensure that his regime is completely safe from any outside attack. Also, North Korea’s becoming a fully-fledged nuclear power would be a boost to his ego and increase his popularity with the country’s not-so-well informed population. In the same way many Russians admire Putin for his strong man image regardless of unethical behaviour North Koreans are likely to respect Kim Jong Un’s status as a strongman despite his tyrannical regime’s crimes.
The US has already made it quite clear what will happen if North Korea actually uses a nuclear missile. Why one might ask, doesn’t China guarantee to defend North Korea from an external attack? Perhaps Kim Jong Un doesn’t sufficiently trust China to believe in such a guarantee to protect his regime.
This problem is one of those that seems to have no simple solution. If North Korea is allowed to keep its nuclear weapon and missile program and its new status is simply accepted then other countries, such as Iran, might want to follow the same path. Widespread nuclear proliferation almost certainly would result in nuclear catastrophe at some point in the future. Keeping and enforcing stringent sanctions against the rogue state for a very long time would cause further starvation amongst the poorest of its people.
Five more leaders the world would be better off without
Apart from the fact that he apparently can’t speak much English, which is disgraceful for the leader of a world power, Xi Jinping, the president of China appears not to care a fig about human rights and is set on flexing China’s muscle. Like most of the other members of China’s oligarchy he is more likely corrupt than not. Power seems to motivate him much more than any sense of justice or compassion. If the eyes are the window to the soul he looks in bad shape. He must be held largely responsible for the disgraceful treatment of dissidents in China. He also lacks a sense of humour, banning Winnie the Pooh in the nation after associations were made between himself and that famous cartoon character. If Winnie the Pooh were to be equated on any level with Xi Jinping Winnie the Pooh would be the loser.
The Prime Minister of Malaysia has done his best to stamp out any and all opposition and to destroy Malaysia’s democracy. His corruption is both gross and obvious. The appearance of almost a billion dollars in his personal bank account he dismissed as a gift from the Saudis. Even the former Prime Minister, Dr. Mahatir, of whom Razak was a protégé, has turned against him.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Another destroyer of any semblance of democracy is the president of Turkey. He is a populist who makes Donald Trump look mild and harmless in comparison. His mission appears to be the destruction of the secular state established long ago by the great Ataturk and the creation of an Islamic state. Ataturk’s wisdom saved Turkey from the excesses and dramas of radical Islam and now Erdogan wants to destroy this. He has used the excuse of the failed coup to gaol many thousands of people and dismiss from their jobs hundreds of thousands more and markedly increase his own power through a narrow referendum result. At the end of the day many people are probably sorry that the coup wasn’t successful.
The president of Cambodia is another leader who boasts a love affair with power. Despite having the benefit of an education in Australia he hasn’t adopted any principles of democracy or social justice. He rules his country with an iron fist and it is most unlikely he will ever be removed by popular will.
The last in our rogue’s gallery is the present Prime Minister of Israel. Over the years he has been implicated in a number of corruption scandals but has escaped unscathed. His hard line and almost Zionist approach to the occupation of Palestinian lands and encouragement of more and more Israeli settlements on those lands has made the prospect of a meaningful peace deal between the Palestinians and Israel all but impossible.
There are a considerable number of world leaders whose influence and action are predominantly negative in the struggle to achieve a happy, just and cohesive world. Here, we look at just some of the more remarkable and prominent ones amongst them. Some are downright criminals of the worst order with innocent blood on their hands. Others are corrupt and/or incompetent and yet others have short sighted attitudes and huge egos which cause them to damage their countries and the wider world around them.
They are not listed in any particular order. While some are indeed horrendous they lead not so powerful countries and their negative effects are limited largely to their own populations. Others, while not being in the same moral league, head much more powerful nations and therefore have a greater effect at large.
- Kim Jong Un of North Korea
Kim Jong Un stands accused of many crimes and executions and has zealously developed North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile technology undermining the stability of the region and making countries further afield nervous. Despite having the benefit of an education in Europe he seems to be somewhat paranoid and boasts a love of absolute power unhindered by ethical qualms.
- Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe
Mugabe has managed to turn one of the most prosperous countries in Africa into an economic ruin and effectively destroyed the country’s democracy in order to maintain an iron grip on power. During the civil war he was one of the rebel leaders whose forces shot down civilian airliners.
He is responsible for a considerable number of deaths and will never step down for fear of being prosecuted for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Zimbabwe and the world are just patiently waiting for old age to remove him. As his country is neither large nor powerful the effects of his rule are relatively limited.
- Bashir Al Assad of Syria
Assad has led a murderous war against his own people that has killed hundreds of thousands of civilians including many children, apparently without giving it any more thought than if he was just squashing flies. Right at the beginning of the demonstrations against his rule during the Arab spring he could have simply resigned with all of his wealth intact. It was once reported that his own mother suggested that he do this. Yet he was determined to remain President of Syria no matter what the cost in innocent lives.
- Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation
Putin has ruled Russia for a dozen years and has managed to stifle what democracy it had when he came to power. It is obvious that wants Russia to be the power that it once was in the glory days of the Soviet Union and is none too fussy about what means he uses to achieve that end. He apparently is doing all he can to weaken Western Europe and the United States. It seems that he did indeed attempt to influence the outcome of the U.S. presidential election last year. Surprisingly perhaps, Putin is popular with the majority of Russians and also with the Russian Orthodox Church. The church likes his conservative stand against gay rights and the population perhaps fall for the nationalist drivel that so many of the world’s people do. Apart from standing accused of having masterminded several state sponsored murders Putin’s support of Assad’s murderous regime is undoubtedly a crime against humanity. Without Putin’s support the war in Syria may well have ended a couple of years ago and the dreaded ISIS may never have come into existence.
- Donald Trump of the United States
Regardless of whether Trump colluded with the Russians during the election campaign or not, it is becoming increasingly apparent that he simply does not have the ability to effectively govern the world’s most powerful nation. A man with a huge ego and a belief in simple solutions to complex problems is simply not up to the task. Nearly six months into his presidency he seems to be still in campaign mode. His simple “solutions” often appeal to the most selfish and unreasonable side of human nature, marginalising minorities in the process. A person who is addicted to Twitter, especially one in his position, could be fairly described as a twit.
- Theresa May of the UK
Theresa May is another leader who appears to have a larger than life ego. Since the Brexit referendum of last year she has been determined to carry out the Brexit regardless of the cost to the nation. Rather than listening to any sensible advice she has made it her mission to achieve a Brexit, no matter what the cost. As one of her own Conservative Party members said during the debate in the Commons about triggering article 50 to leave the EU, “She is leading us down the rabbit hole but with no Wonderland at the bottom.” It is likely that many of the people who voted for the Brexit now regret their decision. Theresa May’s loss of her parliamentary majority at the recent election underlines the fact that many people in the UK do not believe in her foolishly optimistic attitude to the problems that face the nation.
- Jacob Zuma of South Africa
Jacob Zuma is obviously guilty of gross corruption but has used his power to effectively stifle dissent. Questions of incompetence also arise about his conduct of the presidency. It is almost surprising that he has managed to cling to power.
- Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela
Nicolas Maduro has done little if anything to fight corruption in his country and has so mismanaged it that it is facing economic ruin, social collapse and civil strife. Certainly the falling oil price has exascerbated the economy’s position but there has been no plan to develop other sources of foreign revenue and no effective measures to deal with the situation. He is clinging to power regardless of popular dissent. The recent helicopter attack on a government building has been widely reported as being possibly stage so he can further clamp down on the country’s freedoms and ensure a virtual dictatorship.
The UK and Europe at the Crossroads
Recent weeks have been momentous in the unfolding of the fate of Western Europe and the Western world generally. Scotland is now clamouring for a second independence referendum. As far as Scotland is concerned the Brexit folly was the last straw. Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, is leading a determined push for another independence referendum and soon.
Theresa May’s insistence that such a referendum can only be granted by Westminster is hardly likely to placate the Scots.
British PM Theresa May
A very real possibility of the breakup of the UK is now presenting itself. It would be much simpler and more sensible to have a second Brexit referendum. Such a referendum could simply be the conduct of another vote, without any campaigning since most of the British public now have a fair idea of what Brexit would entail, including many undesirable consequences that they hadn’t even considered at the time of the referendum last June. If Theresa May’s government needs an excuse to hold a second referendum it needn’t look very far.
Further evidence that Putin’s Russia may have not only interfered in the US’s presidential election but may have been involved in the financing of Donald Trump’s business interests (when Wall Street wouldn’t touch him) has presented itself.
Some British MPs have claimed that Putin’s Russia may have interfered in the Brexit campaign. Even the possibility of this would be a perfectly reasonable excuse for holding a second Brexit referendum vote.
It is quite clear that Putin has been conducting a clandestine campaign to destabilise Western Europe and the EU as part of his aim to make Russia a great power again. “Make Russia great again” has a familiar ring doesn’t it? His bloody and bloody minded support of Assad has cost the lives of countless innocents and created the greatest refugee crisis since WW II. To be accurate the Soviet Union (and Russia) had a lot to do with that refugee crisis too.
Assad President of Syria
Putin obviously knew that his support of Assad’s regime would prolong that hideous civil war and send millions of refugees in the direction of Western Europe and the EU.
The Netherlands’ very recent election has resulted in the return of the current Dutch PM. In resisting populist and far right politics have the Dutch people shown themselves to be fundamentally more intelligent and thoughtful than the British and the Americans or is it a case of the Dutch having seen the unfortunate results of the Brexit debacle and the election of Donald Trump?
Although under the American political system it would be very difficult to dislodge Donald Trump now (impeachment seems a very unlikely possibility) and you can just forget about the removal of Putin in Russia, it is very simple for Britain to conduct a second Brexit referendum vote. It would seem that Theresa May wants to rush through the Brexit folly and trigger article 50 as a sign of her power. Perhaps she would also like to go down in history as the person who did the most to destroy the UK and hugely damage Western Europe.
Marie Le Pen (leader of France’s National Front)
If the French, in their coming presidential election can resist the fallacious populist appeal of the far right then perhaps Europe has a chance. However, if they elect Marie Le Pen and France leaves the EU the European Union will be finished and Western Europe will be massively damaged and in a worse situation than it was prior to the Second World War.
The person with the greatest opportunity to stop this disastrous slide is Theresa May. If the British government decides to hold a second vote on Brexit before the French elections are held a clear signal will have been sent that the West will resist the attempts of Putin to bring it to its knees. Hope in a reasonable future could then return.