World of Knowledge (Australia) - - Experts In This Issue -

Try­ing to pick the worst dic­ta­tor to ever hold of­fice is a bit like de­cid­ing on the most ter­ri­ble Justin Bieber song – there’s just too many choices.

Is some­one who drops chem­i­cal weapons on his own cit­i­zens any worse than some­one who sub­jects his peo­ple to sick­en­ing sci­en­tific ex­per­i­ments? Is ex­e­cut­ing one per­son by fir­ing squad any less de­praved than killing mil­lions through famine and star­va­tion?

These are just two of the moral dilem­mas we faced when whit­tling down our list of twisted tyrants to just seven. But whit­tle we did, and what an il­lus­tri­ous roll-call of despots it is. Even though the men (al­ways men) we se­lected for our cover story (page 8) are prod­ucts of the 20th cen­tury, it’s wor­ry­ing just how many mod­ern-day dic­ta­tors ap­peared on our radar dur­ing re­search. Our heads shake and our stom­achs churn when we read about the bru­tal­ity of Sad­dam Hus­sein’s regime or the ter­ror of Joseph Stalin’s rule. But torture, ex­e­cu­tions and hu­man rights abuses are oc­cur­ring un­der our noses, right now. Here’s look­ing at you, Vladimir Putin, Bashar al-as­sad, Kim Jong-un, to name a few.

It made me pause for a mo­ment of re­flec­tion. Sure, I may moan from time to time, like we all do, about pay­ing too much tax or Google us­ing my data, but I’m lucky to live in a coun­try where I’m not pun­ished for do­ing a mag­a­zine about His­tory’s Most Evil Dic­ta­tors. And for that priv­i­lege, I’m will­ing to en­dure a life­time of Bieber’s mu­si­cal torture, that’s for sure. Vince Jack­son, Ed­i­tor Follow me on Twit­ter: @vince_­jack­son1

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