The Washington Post publishes an op-ed by journalist Pranay Gupte claiming that recently deceased Indonesian dictator Suharto’s rule wasn’t all that bad — because he was ok with birth control, controlled population growth, and didn’t have to torture people to do it.
Setting the bar pretty low, aren’t we? Gupte writes:
I am not one for endorsing dictatorships, nepotism and state-condoned corruption. But you could look far beyond Suharto and see worse. I don’t think that even in his sternest periods of rule, Suharto was the kind of nail-puller and torturer that, say, Mobutu of Zaire was.
That is to say, let’s be a little more careful about making sweeping judgments about Third World rulers, even those who come to office through unconventional means. Pulling nails and murdering people wasn’t in the Indonesian tradition, at least not in Suharto’s time.