Worst of the Worst

Worst of the Worst: Dealing with Repressive and Rogue Nations

ROBERT I. ROTBERG Editor
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 342
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7864/j.ctt6wpdr4
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Worst of the Worst
    Book Description:

    Repressive regimes tyrannize their own citizens and threaten global stability and order. These repositories of evil systematically oppress their own people, deny human rights and civil liberties, severely truncate political freedom, and prevent meaningful individual economic opportunity.Worst of the Worstidentifies and characterizes the world's most odious states and singles out which repressors are aggressive and, hence, can truly be called rogues.

    Previously, determinations have been based on inexact, impressionistic criteria. In this volume, Robert Rotberg and his colleagues define the actions that constitute repression and propose a method of measuring human rights violations. They offer an index of nation-state repressiveness, classifying "gross repressors," "high repressors," and "aggressive repressors" or "rogues" on a ten-point scale. Based on arms and drug trafficking, support of terror, possession of weapons of mass destruction, and crossborder attacks, this valuable diagnostic tool will guide the international community in crafting effective policies to deal with injustice in the developing world. The repressors and rogues profiled include Belarus, Burma, Equatorial Guinea, NorthKorea, Syria, Togo, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Zimbabwe. Worst of the Worstoffers a transparent way to decide which repressive and rogue states are most deserving of strong policy attention. Explicitly measuring and labeling these highly repressive states is the first step toward improving the well-being of millions of the poorest and most abused peoples of the globe.

    Contributors include Margarita M. Balmaceda (Seton Hall University), Mary Caprioli (University of Minnesota Duluth), Priscilla A. Clapp (Safe Ports, LLC),Yi Feng (Claremont Graduate University), Gregory Gleason (University of New Mexico), John Heilbrunn (Colorado School of Mines), Clement M. Henry (University of Texas at Austin),David W. Lesch (Trinity University), Marcus Noland (Peterson Institute for International Economics and International Food Policy Research Institute), Martha Brill Olcott (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace), Saumik Paul (Claremont Graduate University), and Peter F. Trumbore (Oakland University).

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-7564-5
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
    Robert I. Rotberg
  4. one Repressive, Aggressive, and Rogue Nation-States: How Odious, How Dangerous?
    (pp. 1-39)
    Robert I. Rotberg

    In the post–cold war era, some of the greatest threats to global stability come not from powerful hegemonic powers battling each other but from smaller, much less intrinsically powerful polities refusing to abide by the common principles of reciprocity and civility that guide world order. Many of these weak, outlaw nations attack their own people; they are seriously repressive, showing no respect for human rights and disdaining basic freedoms and democratic values. These heavy repressors breach official international conventions and covenants (such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and...

  5. two Human Rights Rogues: Aggressive, Dangerous, or Both?
    (pp. 40-66)
    Mary Caprioli and Peter F. Trumbore

    Are rogue states more violent or dangerous than other international actors, and can they be identified on the basis of objective criteria? The concept of the rogue state, which became a prominent part of American foreign policy discourse and planning with the end of the cold war, is based upon the premise that states that consistently violate important international norms of behavior represent particular dangers to the international order. In a 1998 speech, then secretary of state Madeleine Albright characterized rogue states as lurking outside the international system, countries “whose very being involves being outside of it and throwing, literally,...

  6. three Running the Numbers: A Comparative Perspective
    (pp. 67-88)
    Yi Feng and Saumik Paul

    This chapter compares fourteen countries characterized by poor human rights records. Four of them—Cuba, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the Sudan—are referenced but not profiled in this book. The process of categorization and evaluation across political, social, and economic dimensions relies primarily on data published in 2004 and 2005. (See appendix 3A.) As an introduction, table 3-1 presents three or four key characteristics for each of these countries.

    Freedom House scores nations on two separate seven-point scales that measure their levels of political rights and civil liberties.¹ The fourteen countries evaluated here ranked low on political rights and civil...

  7. four North Korea: The Tyranny of Deprivation
    (pp. 89-114)
    Marcus Noland

    Using the definition employed in this volume, North Korea is a quintessential rogue state, combining systematic internal repression with aggressive and dangerous external behavior. Its oppression of its own people can be demonstrated amply: up to a million deaths in a famine during the 1990s, for which North Korea’s political leadership bears considerable responsibility; the maintenance of a Soviet-style gulag that houses as many as 200,000 political prisoners; and a pervasive climate of fear and privation that has encouraged citizens, perhaps hundreds of thousands, to flee North Korea in favor of uncertain prospects in neighboring China. Emblematic of North Korea’s...

  8. five Turkmenistan under Niyazov and Berdymukhammedov
    (pp. 115-134)
    Gregory Gleason

    With the death in late 2006 of Saparmurad Niyazov, founding leader and despot of Turkmenistan, that natural gas–rich ex-Soviet satrapy began tentatively charting a post-Niyazov era under the unexpected leadership of Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov. Potentially a cautious reformer, Berdymukhammedov may conceivably attempt to modernize and humanize the country’s ruling regime. Or he may plunge the country into deep pools of repression. The rise of Berdymukhammedov and what that means is discussed in a postscript to this chapter.

    Citizens of Turkmenistan gathered each September 12 to celebrate Ruhnama Day in honor of theRuhnama, the book of spiritual teachings written by...

  9. six Burma: Poster Child for Entrenched Repression
    (pp. 135-165)
    Priscilla A. Clapp

    When Burma emerged from colonial rule in 1948, it was the wealthiest, best educated, and most progressive country in Southeast Asia. In fact, it was Asia’s original democracy. Today it is one of the most economically backward, politically stagnant, and repressive countries in the region and, indeed, in the world. How did a country with such a promising start come to be identified as one of the world’s leading “outposts of tyranny” fifty years later?¹ What made things go so wrong for Burma?²

    In many respects, Burma’s failure to develop sustainable democracy is rooted in its colonial legacy. As part...

  10. seven Winning the African Prize for Repression: Zimbabwe
    (pp. 166-192)
    Robert I. Rotberg

    Zimbabwe, Togo, and Equatorial Guinea are the leading repressive states in sub-Saharan Africa. Some of their neighbors may be poorly managed, corrupt, and barely democratic, but only those three bear comparison with the extreme kinds of nation-states that are the subjects of this book. None in sub-Saharan Africa is so odious. None treats its citizens and taxpayers so harshly. None governs with such massive deficiencies. In recent times, Zaire and Kenya might have qualified, or Malawi, the Central African Empire, and Uganda under an earlier set of potentates. Togo recently starred as Africa’s longest autocracy; Equatorial Guinea represents a classic...

  11. eight Understanding Repression in Belarus
    (pp. 193-222)
    Margarita M. Balmaceda

    The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 ushered in a period of democratization and market reform that has extended across Central and Eastern Europe, with one important exception: Belarus. The Belarusian experience as an exception to the broader regional trend toward reform offers a valuable opportunity to analyze how democratization can fail in a post-Soviet context. The case of Belarus also presents important and interesting issues in the study of repressive regimes, in particular concerning the sources of repressiveness and international rogue behavior, and the interrelationship between structural and personal factors in the maintenance of such regimes. Last but...

  12. nine Equatorial Guinea and Togo: What Price Repression?
    (pp. 223-249)
    John R. Heilbrunn

    Although a heart attack ended the life of Togolese dictator Etienne Gnassingbé Eyadéma on February 5, 2005, it left intact the clan-based autocracy that he had established after a bloody coup thirty-eight years earlier. Initially, his death opened questions about succession and whether Togo would resume a democratic transition that had collapsed thirteen years before.¹ However, the Gnassingbé clan could hardly allow their father’s death to leave it vulnerable to retribution from vengeful compatriots. A brutal campaign of killings and beatings of opponents in southern Togo accordingly preceded the elections.² Although the exact number of deaths may never be known,...

  13. ten Uzbekistan: A Decaying Dictatorship Withdrawn from the West
    (pp. 250-268)
    Martha Brill Olcott

    Uzbekistan is a decaying dictatorship with a seriously flawed human rights record. The country is dominated by Islam Karimov, the country’s sole president, who has physically and mentally weakened in recent years but has delegated almost no power to his cabinet, his parliament, or his judicial system. The only source of authority that has accumulated more power in recent years is the country’s national security service, which oversees Uzbekistan’s elaborate security system. It both guarantees the power of the president and insulates him from society and even from much of the ruling elite.

    The security services permeate much of society,...

  14. eleven Assessing Repression in Syria
    (pp. 269-299)
    David W. Lesch

    During the last decade, scores of congresspersons, think tank and non-governmental organization representatives, and Middle East experts who have testified and commented before congressional committees assessing the regimes of Hafiz al-Asad and his son, Bashar, have, for the most part, concluded that Syria is a rogue state, terrorist state, repressive state, or any one of a number of other less-than-positive descriptions. It is argued that Syria supports terrorism, possesses weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and generally deviates from the accepted norms of the international community. In the 1980s and 1990s, terminology such as “rogue states,” “backlash states,” or “states of...

  15. twelve Tunisia’s “Sweet Little” Regime
    (pp. 300-324)
    Clement Henry

    Tunisia is neither aggressive nor is it up to North Korean standards of internal repression. Yet, in thinking about internally repressive regimes, the term “rogue,” often used for externally aggressive regimes, is useful because it connotes a regime that has run amok like a male rogue elephant. The principal characteristic of such a regime is that it deviates from the values and beliefs of the community that it purports to rule—so much so that some may perceive its leader to be irrational or mentally ill. But unlike the elephant “of a savage destructive disposition” that is “driven away from...

  16. Contributors
    (pp. 325-328)
  17. Index
    (pp. 329-342)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 343-343)