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The Dictator’s Handbook

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith look at politics, starting with a single assertion: Leaders do whatever keeps them in power; they don’t care about the “national interest”—or even their subjects—unless they have to. The Dictator’s Handbook: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics shows that the difference between tyrants and democratic leaders isn’t as great as you might think.

Guests:

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith

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Comments [6]

Ben from New Jersey

This makes Obama look pretty selfless and rational in his decision to go after Osama on shaky intelligence...

Oct. 04 2011 04:21 PM
Fuva from Harlemworld

That analysis of the budget debate -- Democrats want to raise taxes for Republicans and Republican want to cut Democrat's benefits -- is a bit simplistic. Democrats have been coddling the rich for many years now. And most Republicans want to keep their govt subsidies...

Oct. 04 2011 01:56 PM
anna from tuckahoe ny

this the problem of Nigeria. The government only governs the light sweet crude.

Oct. 04 2011 01:49 PM
Theresa from Brooklyn

Just a little ahead of time for 500th anniversary of Machiavelli's "The Prince." Isn't a lot of this what he was saying?

Oct. 04 2011 01:44 PM

Many -- probably most -- political scientists, political economists, etc., are just going to say "No!" to the guests' conclusions. They clearly fly in the face of the mythology of American democracy. There are whole schools of political and economic thinking that seem to take as axiomatic that _however the US does things_ that is the _right and best way_. Period.

Without unpacking my claim more, do the guests have a response? How do you argue against the dominant thinking of US academia?

Oct. 04 2011 01:44 PM
jp from Berkeley

Very good thesis; are the authors aware of Wolfgang Schivelbusch's work, which found similarities between Stalin's USSR, Roosevelt's America and, yes, Hitler's Germany...?

Oct. 04 2011 01:41 PM

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