Oil Driving 'Democratic Recession'
High prices, US inaction let 'bad guys' run amok: Friedman
By Sam Gale Rosen,  Newser Staff
Posted May 7, 2008 11:25 AM CDT
"What Mugabe has done to his country is one of the most grotesque acts of misgovernance ever," Friedman writes of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.   (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
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(Newser) – A "democratic recession" is threatening to roll back freedom around the globe, Thomas Friedman writes today in the New York Times. The high price of oil—which facilitates authoritarian rule—combined with the loss of US ability to effectively promote democracy means dictators have freer reign and freedom suffers, Friedman writes.

In particular, Friedman singles out Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe and his ally, South Africa's Thabo Mbeki, as "bad guys" who "are taking advantage" of the erosion of American influence. The columnist also blasts (again) Hillary Clinton's and John McCain's plans for a gas-tax holiday as "another little nail in the coffin of democracy around the world."