The Naughty list
He's in his own category of awfulness.
Once widely considered among the most promising of the Middle East's reformist autocrats, Assad has taken the wholesale destruction of his own country to unspeakable levels this year, with the death toll topping 37,000 according to some estimates, hundreds of thousands displaced, and entire towns leveled. Assad also apparently has few reservations about using weapons like Scud missiles and cluster munitions on his own people. Even his friends in Russia seem to be getting tired of defending him.
He's a daddy's boy... and consider who his daddy was.
Hopes that North Korea's young leader might take some steps to help his isolated and impoverished country rejoin the world faded quickly this year, with Kim reaffirming his father's "military first" policy, launching ballistic missile in defiance of international condemnation, detaining U.S. citizens, and -- reportedly -- executing wayward military officials by mortar fire. Perhaps fatherhood will soften him a bit, but we wouldn't count on it.
For not even being embarrassed about being a dictator.
Most dictators at least deny being dictators. But Lukashenko is done with that facade, telling a Reuters correspondent this year, "I am the last and only dictator in Europe. Indeed there are none anywhere else in the world... You came here and looked at a living dictator. Where else would you see one?" Lukashenko, who seems to be grooming his 7-year-old son as his successor, lived up to his reputation this year, with widespread arrests of journalists and political opponents. He ended the year on another low note, seeming to endorse a return to serfdom by seriously proposing that wood-processing workers be prevented by law from leaving their jobs. The only good news? With the way things are going in Ukraine, he may not be able to brag about being Europe's last dictator for much longer.
He's suppressing his own citizens and destabilizing his neighbors.
While he still has some friends in Washington, this seems to have been the year the gloss finally came of the Rwandan president's international reputation as a democratic reformer. Kagame's supporters in the West have largely looked the other way in recent years as evidence of his government imprisoning opponents and muzzling the press has mounted. But the tipping point may have come this year with a long-delayed U.N. report accusing Rwanda of actively supporting the M23 rebel movement, which has taken over wide swathes of the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo. Several countries, including Britain and Germany, have now suspended aid to the onetime darling of the development community.
He's quickly proving his critics right.
It's still early to say, but Morsy hasn't exactly reassured his opponents and critics, who feared that once in power the Muslim Brotherhood leader would seek to limit open democracy in Egypt. Indeed, he's pushed through a new Islamist-backed constitution that contains few protections for the press, minorities, and women's rights -- and which many fear could put political power in the hands of clerics. There are also disturbing reports that Morsy's supporters have abused and abducted opponents during demonstrations against his constitutional power grab and that he has blocked investigations of their actions. Let's hope the last month was not a sign of what's to come.
RABIH MOGHRABI/AFP/Getty Images; Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images; VIKTOR DRACHEV/AFP/GettyImages; MICHELLE SIBILONI/AFP/Getty Images; AFP/GettyImages