The recent Iranian claim that a explosion heard at an event attended by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had been an American or perhaps Zionist attempt to bump off the erratic president of the Islamic Republic, was almost immediately denied by the same agencies that had circulated the story in the first place, providing further evidence of a regime in utter disorganization and confusion. But it also reminds us that Third World dictators frequently make claims that malicious foreign imperialists – American, Zionist, French, British, you name ‘em – are out to get them, and often circulate stories of frustrated assassination plots.
Among recent singers of this tune, in addition to Ahmadinejad, are Venezuela’s caudillo Hugo Chavez, Zimbabwe’s geriatric president Robert Mugabe, Libya’s weird “Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution” Muammar al-Gaddafi, and North Korea’s erratic “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-il. These bogus claims are intended primarily for domestic consumption, since these strongmen find it useful to pretend dictatorial rule is essential to protect their countries from the dread foreign imperialists.
But why would any rational “foreign imperialist” want to bump off these guys? They’re some of the most inept national leaders in history, each of whom has run his country into poverty, isolation, and brutality on the pretense of protecting it from evildoers, foreign and domestic, while enriching himself and his cronies.
Knocking off a relatively efficient and charismatic dictator like Adolf Hitler would certainly have benefited Germany’s enemies, since without him the regime would probably have collapsed from internal tensions among various factions. Bumping off the likes of a Ahmadinejad, Chavez, Mugabe, Gaddafi, or Kim could actually be counter-productive, leading to his replacement by a more effective strongman. So unless you are going to replace the rotten government (as was the case with Saddam Hussein), it's better to leave the dummies alone.