The Dictator’s Handbook

I am reading The Dictator’s Handbook by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita.   It’s nothing pompous or terribly cynical like Sun Tzu or Il Principe (which didn’t get the author a job according to de Mesquita). De Mesquita says every political situation has someone trying to get or hold onto power and associated with that person are a Support tuple of (Essentials, Influentials, Interchangeables).  He says that people who want power have that as their primary motivation and will do what they can to manage their support tuple and disrupt the support tuples of their opponents.  He says that the difference between a democracy and a dictatorship is not the actions or motivations of the competitors for leadership, but rather the relative proportions of Essentials, Influentials and Interchangeables in the support tuple.   He goes through example after example to show how the model works.  It sounds hokey but then you get hooked on the idea.  It makes North Carolina redistrictings look crystal clear.  Just read it and you’ll see what I mean.  I can see why the CIA liked the guy so much.  The challenge is not to appreciate the model but to discredit it in some way.   Interestingly enough, the Wikipedia page contains no section on criticisms, which is somewhat unusual.  You can find a few bits and pieces of opposition here and there:

Here’s a WSJ book review:

During the recent debt-ceiling debate, a passel of politicians and pundits offered variations on the same sound bite: While their side’s plan was necessary to stop …

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