Anyway, I decided to introduce something new to this blog. They're called top lists, and my future posts will, hopefully, be in this form occasionally. Today's topic is about five rather eccentric leaders that I know about. You probably want to ask, "Only five?" I know, modern day politicians are an unusual breed, but I've done my best here with my very limited knowledge on global politics. Plus if I were to write about all of them I'll probably be going on forever. Alright, without further ado, let me introduce you to
5) Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
A man much revered by many of the modern day Turks, going as far as calling him the 'Father of Turkey'. Secularists keep a poster of him above their beds so that they can kiss it before going to sleep every evening.
Of course, any sane unbiased person would immediately label him as a dictator. But as things stand, however horrible you are, if your ideologies go against Islamic teachings then apparently you can NEVER be a dictator. This is evidenced by the way he's hero-worshiped by some of those brainwashed Turks and of course, the (even more brainwashed) secularists.
4) George Walker Bush
Yeah, he only made #4 on the list. I'm not going to bother typing a profile of him. His quotes just sum him up.
To set the tone a little, here's the first one:
"I hope you leave here and walk out and say, 'What did he say?"
- George W. Bush, Beaverton, Oregon, Aug. 13, 2004.
He must be pleased.
"We spent a lot of time talking about Africa, as we should. Africa is a nation that suffers from incredible disease." —Gothenburg, Sweden, June 14, 2001
Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.
- George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2004
"I glance at the headlines just to kind of get a flavor for what's moving. I rarely read the stories, and get briefed by people who are probably read the news themselves." —Washington, D.C., Sept. 21, 2003
"You know, one of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror." -interview with CBS News' Katie Couric, Sept. 6, 2006
"I am here to make an announcement that this Thursday, ticket counters and airplanes will fly out of Ronald Reagan Airport." —Washington, D.C., Oct. 3, 2001
I cut the taxes on everybody. I didn't cut them. The Congress cut them. I asked them to cut them.
- George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Aug. 6, 2004
"Oh, no, we're not going to have any casualties." —discussing the Iraq war with Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson, as quoted by Robertson
"I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully." -Saginaw, Mich., Sept. 29, 2000
I'm honored to shake the hand of a brave Iraqi citizen who had his hand cut off by Saddam Hussein.
- George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., May 25, 2004
"We need an energy bill that encourages consumption." —Trenton, N.J., Sept. 23, 2002
"They misunderestimated me." -Bentonville, Ark., Nov. 6, 2000
The march to war hurt the economy. Laura reminded me a while ago that remember what was on the TV screens -- she calls me, 'George W.' -- 'George W.' I call her, 'First Lady.' No, anyway -- she said, we said, march to war on our TV screen.
- George W. Bush, Bay Shore, New York, Mar. 11, 2004
"Do you have blacks, too?" —to Brazilian President Fernando Cardoso, Washington, D.C., Nov. 8, 2001
"For every fatal shooting, there were roughly three non-fatal shootings. And, folks, this is unacceptable in America. It's just unacceptable. And we're going to do something about it." -Philadelphia, Penn., May 14, 2001
The best way to find these terrorists who hide in holes is to get people coming forth to describe the location of the hole, is to give clues and data.
- George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Dec. 15, 2003
"This foreign policy stuff is a little frustrating." —as quoted by the New York Daily News, April 23, 2002
"We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories ... And we'll find more weapons as time goes on. But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong, we found them." -Washington, D.C., May 30, 2003
"Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere!" -joking about his administration's failure to find WMDs in Iraq as he narrated a comic slideshow during the Radio & TV Correspondents' Association dinner, Washington, D.C., March 24, 2004
"See, free nations are peaceful nations. Free nations don't attack each other. Free nations don't develop weapons of mass destruction."
- George W. Bush, Milwaukee, Wis., Oct. 3, 2003, proving that the USA is not a free country.
"It is white." —after being asked by a child in Britain what the White House was like, July 19, 2001
"There's an old saying in Tennessee -- I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee -- that says, fool me once, shame on --shame on you. Fool me -- you can't get fooled again." -Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 17, 2002
She is a fabulous First Lady. I was a lucky man when she said, yes, I agree to marry you. I love her dearly, and I'm proud of the job she's doing on behalf of all Americans. Just like I love my brother.
- George W. Bush, Jacksonville, Florida, Sep. 9, 2003
"I'm also not very analytical. You know I don't spend a lot of time thinking about myself, about why I do things." —aboard Air Force One, June 4, 2003
Our country puts $1 billion a year up to help feed the hungry. And we're by far the most generous nation in the world when it comes to that, and I'm proud to report that. This isn't a contest of who's the most generous. I'm just telling you as an aside. We're generous. We shouldn't be bragging about it. But we are. We're very generous.
- George W. Bush, bragging about not bragging, Washington, D.C., July 16, 2003
"But all in all, it's been a fabulous year for Laura and me." —summing up his first year in office, three months after the 9/11 attacks, Washington, D.C., Dec. 20, 2001
"You work three jobs? ... Uniquely American, isn't it? I mean, that is fantastic that you're doing that." -to a divorced mother of three, Omaha, Nebraska, Feb. 4, 2005
I recently met with the finance minister of the Palestinian Authority, was very impressed by his grasp of finances.
- George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., May 29, 2003
I think war is a dangerous place.
- George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., May 7, 2003
Now, we talked to Joan Hanover. She and her husband, George, were visiting with us. They are near retirement - retiring - in the process of retiring, meaning they're very smart, active, capable people who are retirement age and are retiring.
- George W. Bush, Alexandria, Va., Feb. 12, 2003
It's clearly a budget. It's got a lot of numbers in it.
- George W. Bush
I think anybody who doesn't think I'm smart enough to handle the job is underestimating.
- George W. Bush
The most important job is not to be governor, or first lady in my case.
- George W. Bush
I want to thank my friend, Senator Bill Frist, for joining us today. You're doing a heck of a job. You cut your teeth here, right? That's where you started practicing? That's good. He married a Texas girl, I want you to know. Karyn is with us. A West Texas girl, just like me.
- George W. Bush, Nashville, Tenn., May 27, 2004
3) Kim Il-sung
Recently I visited the official website of DPR Korea to get a little bit of an idea of just how much this guy is revered over there. The forums were, unsurprisingly, severely moderated and censored. The moderators accepted only certain types of questions, you know, the ones that do not question the authority of their 'Great Leader' in any shape or form. In fact I highly doubt whether the questions were actually posed by visitors to that website.
Q: "I'm afraid this could be the silliest question ever in the KFA Forum, but I'm curious about it. I've recently read that NK people can't sit or folding newspapers due to the picture of Dear Leader appearing on the cover, if this is right, what do North Koreans do when they have read the newspapers? How do they get rid of them?"
A: "That is true. Many years ago, they found out that when people folded their Won bills in half to fit into wallets, the picture of Kim-Il Sung got folded. Out of respect, they moved the picture to the side so when the bill got folded, the picture remained undefaced. I'm not too sure about how newspaper is recycled."
Oh yes, he's quite literally worshiped over there, which is ironic since following a religion is forbidden in that communist country. North Koreans also believe that he's some sort of almighty God who created the world, and hence he has no beginning! The funny thing about this is that his birthday and day of death are considered national holidays. He has turned North Koreans into an insult to the human race.
This is only the tip of the iceberg.
He made the country's army the central pillar of his regime where he exercised absolute power using demagogy as a tool. You'd think being a dictator was bad enough, but to actually make people treat him as though he was a demigod is just mind blowing. During his reign of power, everything was state owned. Say you were riding a (probably state owned) bicycle through the streets of Pyongyang when suddenly a tire bursts. In order to patch it up, you drag the state owned bicycle to a state owned garage, where a guy whose wages are payed by the government fixes the (state owned) bicycle using state owned tools. You then thank the Great Leader by bowing down in front of a picture of him, which isn't difficult since probably every single building in that country has at least one.
During his leadership, North Korea became completely isolated from the rest of the world thanks to his Juche (self-reliant) philosophy, bar a few limited contacts with China. However China too became increasingly distant and when the Soviet Union collapsed, the country was left all alone. Despite the awful economic situation and the horrendous living conditions of the Koreans all the while when this man was living a life of luxury, the Korean media continued to lionize him. He died after a sudden heart attack in 1994 and his funeral was attended by thousands who were seen weeping dramatically. The video can be seen here.
It was said that as he grew older, some sort of a growth developed on the back of his neck. To prevent this from being seen, North Korean photographers took photos of him from a certain angle, but this became rather difficult after a while when the growth became the size of a baseball!
Oh yeah, did I mention that he's also the country's Eternal President?
2) Kim Jong-il
A classic case of Like Father, Like son. He didn't become President of DPR Korea since his father is the "Eternal President", remember? Instead, he was appointed as the Chairman of the National Defense Commission, which, incidentally was announced as the highest post of the state. Since he's not the president he's not required to hold elections and to no one's surprise, hasn't done so.
Okay, I visited the official DPRK website again and found another interesting question posed by a visitor.
Q: "In America I can sit on Bush's picture and expel gas. Is the Dear Leader equal to Kings?"
A: "The Great Leader is indeed higher than Kings. While Kings are only concerned about the aristocratic circle, Kim Jong-Il is the father and nexus of the full society.
What makes him more great is that although having such power and trust from the people, never shows his opulence and is a very humble person in every aspect of his life."
His leadership is almost a carbon copy to that of his fathers'. He commands absolute obedience, and failure to do so is in his opinion, a sign of disloyalty. Those disloyal to him or his army (now the world's 5th largest) are sent to concentration camps where God knows what horrors lie in store for them. He's known as The Dear Leader, and his birthday is a national holiday.
In addition to his cruel leadership, he's also recognised as a playboy. His extravagant lifestyle, which includes filthy amounts of money spent on purchasing luxury cars, a wine cellar in one of his numerous homes and collecting movies. He's an avid film fan and reportedly owns over 20,000 video tapes, so it was only expected that he wanted to develop a North Korean film industry. His solution? Kidnapping a South Korean film director and his actress wife. Unique, to say the least. He's also a womanizer and had relationships with numerous women. I'm guessing the line, "My father is the Eternal President" turned out to be pretty useful. Like his father, he too has a fear of flying. During one of his trips to Russia via train, he reportedly had live lobsters airlifted to him everyday, which he ate using silver chopsticks. In his autobiography, he claims that he has a genius IQ and that he has written 6 operas and designed at least one structure. Most accuse him of insanity.
During the latter part of this year, there were rumours that he had suffered a stroke and possibly died. The North Korean government and media (almost the same thing really; the media is totally controlled by the government) kept mysteriously quite on this issue and were finally forced to admit that he had suffered a "minor" stroke. To prove that he's in top physical condition now, their Central News Agency published photos of him to the world, though the authenticity of these have been questioned by anyone with an above average IQ. There have been rumours that he suffered a second stroke last month. I think it will be more appropriate if he could just get out and show himself!
He's also 5'2" and wears 4 inch platform shoes to disguise his shortness. I should do that too!
1) Saparmurat Niyazov
I'm not sure if I could fit all his eccentricities into this post, but when 99.9% of a country's population vote in favour of the incumbent President to extend his presidiency, and when the parliament declares him President for Life, you'll probably be able smell trouble from the other end of the globe. That was exactly what happened at Turkmenistan, a country which gained independence after the fall of the Soviet Union.
Turkmenistan is not exactly the most well-known country. That is because like the two Korean leaders mentioned above, this man decided to isolate his country from the rest of the world and develop a personality cult. Although we may have to invent a new word as a substitute for 'personality cult'. That's because this guy was incredibly egocentric. And stupid.
He declared himself as Turkmenbashi, meaning "Father of all Turkmen". Amongst the bizarre things he's done, it includes banning beards, forcing his countrymen to have only one pet at the most so that "herds may be avoided", renaming the month April to "Gurbansoltan Eje" in honour of his dead mother, and renaming other months, years and days of the week after his family members and famous Turkmeni personalities. Oh and he renamed the year 2002 after himself, Turkmenbashi.
He also assigned the second Sunday of August as a national holiday, calling it Melon Day in honour of the melon. Why can't we have a Rihaakuru Day?
He squandered millions of dollars on building a zoo and a ski resort in the middle of the desert, too. Who cares if the civilians are starving, eh?
The Neutrality Arch, atop the monument is a gold-plated statue of Niyazov which rotates 360 degrees every 24 hours so as to always face the sun. - Wikipedia
During his time, the economy of Turkmenistan crippled and plunged to a somewhat perilous state. But he didn't mind! There're portraits and gold plated statues of him all throughout the country staring down upon the hungry civilians. When he tinted his grey hair black, teams were rushed to retouch official portraits and statues accordingly. He also opened a Ministry of Fairness, whatever that meant.
Turkmenistan has the fifth-largest natural gas reserves, and as long as Niyazov continued to pump gas into Europe, he would've been seen as a jolly old bear with some hilarious eccentricities. And that was how things were, though there was a much darker side. There were no such things as press freedom, only 0.7% of the population used the internet since he'd ordered to shut down all internet cafe's. He ordered all doctors to take oath to him and dismissed 15,000 health workers, replacing them with military conscripts who'd been ordered to use his medical textbooks. He likes to think he's a good physician despite having no training and next to no knowledge on this subject.
His weirdness was confirmed (as though we don't need any more convincing) when he published a book, the Ruhnama. If you were to believe him, this is THE ultimate book. It contains absolutely everything, from spiritual and moral guidance, his autobiography (of course), and some history lessons with highly disputed facts. Not only was it made compulsory for every Turkmen to read and learn from it, but it was also integrated into the nation's education curriculum. You've to learn it in order to pass driving exams too! Niyazov also attempted to keep copies of it in the churches and mosques. Obviously the imams weren't too happy with keeping a book written by a senile dictator alongside the Qur'an and they let their feelings known. Turkmenbashi's solution was to bulldoze a few mosques.
This is a monument to the Ruhnama, probably the first ever monument of a book. It's situated in the capital Ashgabad, and at 8:00 pm every evening, it opens and plays recorded passages from the book accompanied by video. You're not allowed to critisize this in any shape or form if you don't want to be subjected to torture and imprisonment. Most importantly, according to Niyazov, reading this book thrice will guarantee you a ticket to heaven! Fantastic, eh?