Who is more duplicitous, more inclined to deceive his own people as well as other nations for strategic advantage — current and past dictators such as Moammar Gaddafi, Hosni Mubarak and Saddam Hussein, or democratically elected Western leaders such as, say, Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush and Barack Obama?
Easy. Just look at Gaddafi, who early in the revolt against his regime claimed that the Libyan people still loved him, that the gunfire in his country was merely celebratory, and who announced a ceasefire only to continue his attacks on rebel forces. Or Mubarak, who tried to cling to power in Egypt by suggesting that nefarious foreign agents — rather than frustrated Egyptian citizens — were behind the Tahrir Square protests. It’s got to be the dictators, right?
John J. Mearsheimer would disagree. The University of Chicago political scientist argues that the leaders most likely to lie are precisely those in Western democracies, those whose traditions of democracy perversely push them to mislead the very public that elected them. In fact, Mearsheimer says, leaders tend to lie to their own citizens more often than they lie to each other.