It may be lonely at the top, but many presidents around the world wouldn't have it any other way. Western observers are accustomed to the autocratic tendencies of Arab strongmen and African dictators, but elsewhere a new breed of executive is emerging, sometimes combining bravado with popularity, in other cases professing democracy while seeking exemptions from it, and even pioneering a model of governance which defies Western hopes of smooth democratic transitions.
Over the last several years, the United States has increasingly focused on promoting democracy in the former Soviet Union, the Middle East and elsewhere, helping to sponsor "revolutions" in Ukraine, Serbia, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan while pressuring Arab regimes across the board to conduct free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections, and to accept the results. Yet the reality is that in many cases where peaceful regime change has been achieved-such as in several Eastern European countries-one set of self-serving leaders has been replaced with another. And where long-time incumbent executives have pledged to reform or stand aside, such as in various Middle Eastern countries, many have reversed course or further entrenched themselves in the trappings of power.