NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

Do you speak dictator?

Test your knowledge of some bad actors on the world stage


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With Vladimir Putin thuggishly stealing Crimea from Ukraine, and serious concern about whether he will also invade eastern Ukraine, a debate is unfolding about whether President Barack Obama is doing enough to stand up to tyranny. That leads me to offer a quiz, so test your skills: Do you speak dictator?

1. Mr. Putin’s most lethal policy has been:

a) The invasion of Crimea

b) Warfare in Chechnya

c) Attacks on dissidents, gays and Pussy Riot.

2. Which leader has the higher domestic approval rating?

a) Mr. Putin, after stealing Crimea, increasing his leverage

b) Mr. Obama, after achieving quasi-universal health care, giving us leverage

c) They now are about the same: Mr. Putin’s popularity tanked because of concern about the economic impact of sanctions.

3. Which dictatorship has a speaker on the wall of private homes, issuing propaganda to wake people up each morning and put them to bed at night?

a) Turkmenistan

b) North Korea

c) Cuba.

4. Which country has perpetuated war in eastern Congo, the most lethal conflict since World War II?

a) Pro-American Rwanda, with military support to rebels

b) China, with military support to both sides

c) Russia, by purchasing minerals, providing cash for munitions.

5. The countries with the highest incarceration rates are:

a) North Korea and the United States

b) Russia and China

c) Uzbekistan and Iran.

6. Which leader has slaughtered the largest number of his own citizens?

a) Vladimir Putin

b) Bashar Assad in Syria

c) Omar al-Bashir in Sudan.

7. One parallel with Russia’s invasion of Crimea is Morocco’s seizure of Western Sahara, which led to vigorous protests by:

a) The Arab League, for Morocco’s violation of an Arab people’s right to self-determination

b) The United States, for Morocco’s use of force and torture to suppress a people

c) Almost nobody.

8. The United States imprisons people without trial in Guantanamo because:

a) It costs only $900,000 per prisoner per year. Oh, never mind

b) Republicans don’t want to give Mr. Obama the satisfaction of closing the prison, and Mr. Obama hasn’t tried very hard himself to close it

c) Waterboarding is permissible under Cuban law.

9. Which countries have suffered the most casualties this year?

a) Afghanistan and Pakistan

b) Ukraine, Russia and Moldova

c) Central African Republic, Syria and South Sudan.

10. Equipment from which country is primarily used to suppress the pro-democracy movement in Bahrain?

a) Iran

b) India

c) United States.

11. If the United States wants to curb human rights abuses, we would have greatest impact on:

a) Russia, because of its dependence on oil and gas exports

b) Cuba, because it is small and nearby

c) Countries like Bahrain, Israel, Morocco and Ethiopia, because they are allies who care about what we think, say and do.

12. In sum, we should vigorously protest Mr. Putin’s invasion of Crimea and make clear that ferocious sanctions will be imposed if there is any invasion of eastern Ukraine. But a more surefire way to inject moral values into international relations would be to:

a) Bully small nations, because they have no choice but to agree

b) Bomb rogue states into better behavior

c) Demand better of allies and ourselves.

(Answers to the quiz: 1b, 2a, 3b, 4a, 5a, 6c, 7c, 8b, 9c, 10c, 11c, 12c. Up to two wrong — you’re a genius! Three to four wrong, near genius. More wrong, less than a dozen points from being a genius!)

Nicholas D. Kristof is a syndicated columnist for The New York Times.



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