El Presidente

My girlfriend bought me this amazing video game called Tropico 3. As a gamer, I play the role of a dictator in a Caribbean island country and I maneuver the political landscape while advancing the main game objective – which is to enlarge my Swiss bank account. While I am extremely libertarian, all personal political ideology went out the window when I got into the inner workings of this game.

What I find fascinating about the game (which takes place from the 1950s through the 1990s) is that there are many foreign actors in the game who behave in very predictable ways – and in ways that can benefit my Swiss bank account enormously. For instance, both the United States and the Soviet Union pay my government money to institute policies that they each find favorable to their respective interests. I find that I can usually spend just barely enough money to convince them to send me more money, and I can pocket the rest in my account.

Other groups, such as foreign aid institutions, will pay me to implement policies which they believe will benefit my citizens. There are also various intellectuals who will support me for implementing socialist policies.

After playing the game for a few hours, I began to notice patterns. For instance, the more I promoted policies that mired my people in poverty, the more likely foreign groups would give me aid. Usually they were gullible enough that I could repeatedly promise change while pocketing most of the foreign aid away in my Swiss bank account – all the while receiving praise from naive intellectuals for my promises to implement social change for the collective good.

When my citizens are fed up with my impoverishing policies and an armed revolt is imminent, I can usually convince a foreign aid group to give me emergency money to build some decent housing or a medical facility – which I then use to build a relatively cheaper military base that can maintain order while keeping the rest of the money for myself.

The funny thing is, without all this foreign intervention into my foreign policy, I would not get away with being such an oppressive tyrant. Either I would have to limit the size of my government, or I would lack the resources needed to prevent an armed revolt.  This is just a game, of course, but the ironic thing is that many intellectuals on both sides of the political spectrum in real life fail to see how their actions impact the actions of third world dictators.

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