Top 10 Craziest Modern Dictators

The following is a list of national leaders (heads of state and/or heads of government) commonly regarded as modern dictators. The modern usage of the term 'dictator' developed largely in response to instances of autocratic rule in republics, so traditional monarchs are not usually described as dictators in historical commentary. Also excluded from this list are those who held absolute power during national emergencies, but restored the rule of law soon thereafter.

#1 - Muammar al-Qaddafi

Muammar al-Qaddafi

Lybia (1942-2011)
Muammar al-Qaddafi joined the military and staged a coup to seize control of Libya in 1969, ousting King Idris. Though his Arab nationalist rhetoric and socialist-style policies gained him support in the early days of his rule, his corruption, military interference in Africa, and record of human rights abuses turned much of the Libyan population against him. Accused of supporting terrorism, in the last decade of his rule Qaddafi reached a rapprochement with Western leaders, and Libya became a key provider of oil to Europe. During the "Arab Spring" of 2011, NATO troops supported dissidents attempting to overthrow Qaddafi's government. After months on the run, on October 20, 2011, Qaddafi was killed in his hometown of Surt.

#2 - Ferdinand Marcos

Ferdinand Marcos

Philippines (1917-1989)
Ferdinand Marcos served as Senate president 1963–1965. In 1965 Marcos, who was a prominent member of the Liberal Party, broke with it after failing to get his party's nomination for president. He then ran as the Nationalist Party candidate for president against the Liberal president. He won and was inaugurated in 1965. In 1969 he was reelected.

#3 - Kim Jong Il

Kim Jong Il

North Korean (1941-)
Much of Kim Jong Il's persona is based on a cult of personality, meaning that legend and official North Korean government accounts describe his life, character, and actions in ways that promote and legitimize his leadership, including his birth. Over the years, Kim's dominating personality and complete concentration of power has come to define the country North Korea.

#4 - Augusto Pinochet

Augusto Pinochet

Chile (1915-2006)
Augusto Pinochet Ugarte joined the Chilean army in 1935. He rose through the ranks and was appointed Commander in Chief by President Salvador Allende in 1973. A month later, Pinochet led the military coup that overthrew Allende. After 25 years in power, he was put under arrest, but died in 2006, before he could be tried for alleged human rights violations.

#5 - Pol Pot

Pol Pot

Cambodia (1925-1998)
Cambodian communist leader of the Khmer Rouge, Pol Pot is suspected of killing thousands of civilians during his reign. Mass graves he commanded his people to dig are often referred to as The Killing Fields. Political leader whose totalitarian regime (1975–79) imposed severe hardships on the Cambodian people. His radical communist government forced the mass evacuations of cities, killed or displaced millions of people, and left a legacy of brutality and impoverishment.

#6 - Robert Mugabe

Robert Mugabe

Zimbabwe (1924-)
Robert Mugabe has been the repressive dictator of Zimbabwe since December 31, 1987. He violently oppresses anyone who opposes his government. He has cracked down on dissidents and violently seized farms from white (and many black) farm owners - seizures that led to much of the land becoming desolate as those who took the land knew about guns, not farming. A black nationalist, he eventually established one-party rule in his country, becoming Executive President of Zimbabwe in 1987.
In his 27 years in power, he has gone from the poster boy for the "New Africa", ruled by educated, democratic leaders, to the bottom of the heap. Under his rule the health and well-being of his people have dropped dramatically, with his arbitrary arrests and torture of anyone considered to be an opponent. According to the World Health Organization, Zimbabwe has the world’s shortest life expectancy - 37 years for men and 34 for women. It also has the greatest percentage of orphans, about 25%, says UNICEF, and the worst annual inflation rate. Mugabe last won a "free" election in 2002 but “won” only after having his leading opponent arrested for treason. Mugabe attempted to oust Morgan Tsvangirai from the political scene in 2008, however he failed and Mugabe lost to Tsvangirai, but refused to step down.

#7 - Hosni Mubarak

Hosni Mubarak

Egypt (1928-)
Hosni Mubarak was the longtime president of Egypt from 1981-2011, and the fourth man to hold the office. He assumed office in October 1981 after the assassination of Anwar Sadat and has maintained the peace with Israel established under his predecessor.
Mubarak has been criticized for his persecution of the Coptic Church, and for his government's twenty nine year state of emergency, which allows him to imprison and hold his political opponents indefinitely without trial and cancel elections. During the presidency of George Bush, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice called for the state of emergency to be lifted and the Mubarak regime to commit itself to democracy.
Since Barack Obama has become president, the United States has been less willing to criticize Egypt's lack of democracy.

#8 - Hugo Chávez

Hugo Chávez

Venezuela (1954-)
Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías is the repressive leftist tyrant of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. A self-proclaimed socialist and collectivist, his disastrous economic policies have led to food shortages, quotas, and rationing in his oil-rich country, causing thousands to flee. Chávez assumed power as President in 1999 and pledged to aid Venezuela's poor majority. Fraudulent elections were held in 2000 and in 2006, allowing Chavez to retain his authoritarian power. As such it would be accurate to describe him as a dictator.

"For almost five years, Chavez has enjoyed near total control of Venezuela's National Assembly thanks to a strategic blunder by his foes, who boycotted 2005 elections."[

#9 - Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro

Cuba (1926-)
Fidel Castro was the brutal communist dictator of Cuba from 1959 to 2008. He reveled in worship of him by the public.
He held the posts of prime minister (1959-1976) and president of the Council of State and president of the Council of Ministers (1976-2008). His oppressive rule lasted almost 50 years and killed scores of thousands. He has not been seen publicly since July 2006, when he underwent intestinal surgery, and is presumably no longer alive as of December 2009; the communists running Cuba have no incentive to risk challenge to their power by announcing that he passed away.

#10 - Saddam Hussein

Saddam Hussein

Iraq (1937-2006)
Saddam Hussein was the Sunni President of Iraq from 1979 to 2003. Hussein brought change and secularization to an otherwise faith-based and religiously guided society. Hussein was a social revolutionary and a modernizer, following other modern Socialist movements and the Nasser model. To the consternation of Islamic conservatives, his government gave women freedoms and offered them high-level government and industry jobs. Hussein also created a Western-style legal system, making Iraq the only country in the Persian Gulf region not ruled according to traditional Islamic law (Sharia). Hussein abolished the Sharia law courts, except for personal injury claims.

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