How to Become a Genocidal Dictator -- And Still Have Western leaders Fawn Over You

Follow these simple steps, and you too can enjoy totalitarian power, while using your country's oil and natural resources as your personal bank account. Learn from the experts: President Obiang of Equatorial Guinea, Field Marshall Bashir of Sudan, and the House of Saud.

1) If you are busy eliminating a section of your population, steadfastly deny your involvement, while pandering to Western stereotypes by blaming the violence on "ancient ethnic hatreds." It worked in Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur, and it will buy you time while you continue the slaughter.

2) Exclude the media, humanitarian workers and human rights groups from the killing fields. Soon, the interfering Westerners will lose interest in what you're doing. Just keep denying you have an ideological mission to kill a certain group of your citizens. It helps if your victims are black - the blacker, the better- with no regional friends. The Sudan regime swears by this tactic.

3) Agree to negotiations and be chummy with the international diplomats who attend. Spin out the talks, agreeing to clauses and then abruptly disrupt everything by insisting each point is re-visited. Wear out the foreign delegates until they are desperate to go home, and they'll accept anything you offer. Then, the minute they leave your airspace, go back to killing your opponents. It worked for the Serbian leaders for five years.

4) Lock up, torture and "disappear" your domestic opposition, bribe your political opponents and rebel leaders, and randomly confiscate newspapers (meaning they lose the money they spent printing the edition, and soon go bankrupt).

5) Destroy schools, hospitals and markets in the kill zone. Bomb fields so people can't plant or harvest their crops, thereby starving your target population, and poison wells. This is working a treat in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan, and it saves you having to put boots on the ground.

6) Intimidate your citizens who have fled overseas, follow them to meetings where they might reveal what your regime is doing, photograph them on demonstrations against your human rights abuses, arrest and torture their aunty back home, asking her why their nephew in Paris/London/New York is spreading lies about the motherland - it certainly works for the Sudanese intelligence services.

7) If you really want to hang onto power, purge the military, civil service, police and judiciary of talented, independent-minded people, replacing them with your cronies.

8) Spread a little of the nation's wealth on the cronies (above), plus business leaders and pliable clerics; then you can go back to choosing villas in Cannes, ordering Ferraris and booking cosmetic surgery in the dozens of countries happy to overlook sanctions and travel bans.

9) Pretend you have intelligence of value to America in its war on terror. Occasionally release tiny morsels of virtually useless information, such as Al Qaeda bank accounts containing $55 that were last active in the 1990s. They'll lap it up, even though your regime is openly Islamist.

10) Use the nation's resource wealth to buy weapons from China and Russia, guaranteeing they veto any censorious UN motions.

11) Keep accepting phone calls from international diplomats, flattering them into thinking they can influence you, and pretending you respect them. They'll soon leave you alone so you can carry on killing.

12) Warning: refrain from boasting about weapons of mass destruction you don't actually possess. But feel free to rename the months of the year in tribute to your mother (Turkmenistan); crown yourself emperor (when President Bokassa of the Central African Republic did this, Western leaders broke their ankles rushing to worship at his throne); proclaim yourself messiah (Mobutu of Zaire, recipient of millions in US aid and IMF support); behead Filipina cleaning ladies who dare to fight back as their employers rape them (Saudi Arabia) and be indicted for genocide by the International Criminal Court (Bashir of Sudan).