Modern Dictators: Third World Coup Makers, Strongmen, and Populist Tyrants The evolution of dictatorship is as much a part of history as the development of democracy. In our ear persuasion has become as powerful a force as repression in creating and maintaining such regimes. Debates over the nature of these systems are at the center of the contemporary U.S. and European foreign policy debates. The flourishing of dictatorship has challenged views of history flavored with optimism and based on a deterministic view that material development brings political progress. At the same time a vision of the world too narrowly focused on the conflict between communism and capitalism must be refocused to understand the emergence of a third World. In fact, it is impossible to defend the West without such an understanding. Our current discussion of dictatorship, much influenced by earlier analyses of “totalitarianism” based on Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Russia at their peak of control and repression, needs to be updated. This model applies only imperfectly to contemporary dictatorships, particularly those in the Third World.