North Korea's Kim Jong-il. That wacky Iraqi, Saddam Hussein. Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It's the major fuckbags of the world that get all the attention. But what about the little guys, the boutique dictators? Don't they deserve some credit, too? I think so... for the sole reason that the more they are publicized, the more likely they are to dangle at the end of a rope someday.
Mswati III (Swaziland)
Mswati has been king since he was 18. His fave hobby is banning political parties in an effort to fend off democracy. Effective, but not nearly dictatorial enough. Luckily, M3 is just as good at blowing money (he dropped $500,000 on a luxury car) and botching his country´s HIV crisis (shockingly, his 5-year ban on sex didn´t work). It must really embarrass his 13 wives.
Aleksandr Lukashenko (Belarus)
There´s rigging elections, and then there´s rigging elections—in 2006, Lukashenko´s major opponent pulled in 6 percent of the vote! And this West-hating despot is as plucky when it comes to parliament: When they tried to impeach him in 1996, Luka simply started his own parliament. That´s change you´d better believe in! (He must not hate the West too much; he's sporting that all-American coif, the Combover.
Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe)
Zimbabwe´s biggest A-hole has been in power since 1980, and he really wants to keep it that way. To win reelection in 2002, he had his opponent jailed for treason, and his rival in last month´s runoff pulled out after constant harassment and assassination attempts. But hey, at least inflation´s only up 100,000 percent under his watch. (A loaf of bread today could have bought 10 new cars a decade ago.)
Than Shwe (Myanmar)
Never heard of him? Maybe that´s because Shwe´s made it his job to suppress free speech and jail journalists who oppose him, a real lifesaver when you want to refuse foreign aid following the worst natural disaster in your nation´s history. And there´s no end in sight; Shwe reached Burma´s mandatory retirement age about 15 years ago, and is clinging to his youth more rapaciously than Madonna.
Charles Taylor (Liberia)
Overthrowing the government and torturing the then-president to death? Check. Running guns? Check. Smuggling diamonds and using them to assist rebel forces in Sierra Leone? Check. We´re not the first to notice what a grade A dick the U.S.-educated despot is: He´s currently being held by the International Criminal Court on 11 counts of war crimes.
Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo (Equatorial Guinea)
The good thing about state radio is that you can make it say whatever you want, in Obi´s case declaring that he´s a god who can kill anyone he wants without going to hell. Convenient! Speaking of which, to prevent government corruption, he seized control of the national treasury and put more than half a billion dollars in his family´s coffers. He also likes to boost his street cred by spreading rumors that he´s a cannibal.
Saparmurat Niyazov (Turkmenistan)
Niyazov was Turkmenistan´s head of state from 1985 until his death in 2006. As his nation´s leader, he brought much-needed color to tyranny, renaming the months of the calendar, banning everything from video games (too violent) to car radios (annoyed him), and erecting a giant gold statue of himself that rotated to always face the sun. And he reportedly still found time to embezzle $3 billion!