Of the 20th and 16th centuries, respectively.
Russia’s Putin seems intent on reconfiguring the Soviet Union which, as you’ll recall, collapsed of its own overbearing weight during the last century. He is still playing that old board game many of us enjoyed as kids called “Risk,” in which you roll the dice and see how much
world territory your army can gobble up.
He’s a dinosaur whose time has passed, but unfortunately for the Ukrainians and anyone else in his way, he’ll cling to power and move his pawns about and play his world domination game as long as folks let him.
He has the benefit of sitting on vast natural resources, which he recently leveraged in a lucrative deal with China – just in case Western Europe is serious about punishing his recent adventurism. It’s a bit like being born on third base and beaming with pride for one’s having hit a triple.
As for Mubarak, the deposed Egyptian ruler was recently convicted of embezzling millions from his people and converting it to his own use for private homes and palaces and such.
Not to mention the untold numbers of killings that may have occurred with his concurrence; indeed, he’s already serving a life sentence, albeit at 86 in a military hospital, for directing the deaths of hundreds who rose up to oust him in 2011.
If Vladimir Putin is a dinosaur, we’re not sure what that makes Hosni Mubarak. The Egyptian ruler – not a leader, a ruler – was working from a Machiavellian playbook from centuries past.
We are now some 14 years into the 21st century, an age that most of us 20th-century natives have always looked to with optimism and hope, an age we fully expected to be something of a renaissance in the slow and tortured realm of human development. It still can be – but not until we have better leadership.
With a few fortunate exceptions, the state of world leadership today is boundlessly incompetent, alarmingly unaccountable, consistently abusive and overly controlling.
Think about this: There are nearly 200 countries in the world, yet there are seven or eight that are apparently worthy of being in the Cool Countries Club (also known as the G-7 or G-8).
We’ve got a lot of work to do on this planet. It’s time our governments got off our backs and followed our lead for a change.
The reality is sadly different, and so may be the future: According to Freedom House – an independent watchdog organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom around the world – the state of freedom declined for the eighth consecutive year in 2013. In its report titled “Freedom in the World 2014,” Freedom House says 54 countries showed overall declines in political rights and civil liberties, compared with only 40 that showed gains.
In addition, even in the U.S. – the leader of the free world – we’ve seen a sharp decline in freedom. In a recent report by the respected organization Reporters Without Borders, the United States fell 13 places to 46th in the world in press freedom.
As technology increasingly allows spying and other abuses of power, the temptations for unscrupulous leaders may only grow.
And who will stick up for us? The United Nations – which, notably, is populated by representatives of many of the very same rulers who are the problem?
This simply must be the century in which the people of Earth demand a new kind of leadership – one that seeks to serve, rather than to create serfs.
Who will lead us?