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This is continuation of my first question:

Is there a way to buy oil from a country under embargo?

I have an oil rich country which is run by a junta. The junta has a history of utter contempt for civil rights, ethnic cleansing, putting opposition in gulags, and killing journalists. The country is far away, foreigners are banned from entering, and communications are tightly controlled. Since the oil boom junta is full of cash.

How could junta improve their image in the eyes of the world?

By improve I mean improving the way foreigners perceive the country, something like putting a lipstick on a pig. The junta has no plans to destroy its chemical weapons, allow the expelled minorities to return, hold free & fair elections, nor god forbid lose dead last place in freedom of press.

Bribing, cosmetic changes or building few Potemkin villages are fine.

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Aify, Brythan, Hohmannfan, Thucydides, SRM Dec 31 '16 at 3:19

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ How 'bout engaging a politician who eschews facts, joyously spreads misinformation, uses both to play and prey on people's more base feelings to further his immediate agenda and who sees an opportunity to enrich himself. Sound familiar? $\endgroup$ – Jym Dec 30 '16 at 13:37
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    $\begingroup$ Pay Sacha Baron Cohen to make movie like Borat, everybody would have good fun poking fun at you instead of hating you youtube.com/watch?v=B39cenrIQW0 $\endgroup$ – slobodan.blazeski Dec 30 '16 at 13:40
  • $\begingroup$ How do we judge one answer better than another? It seems like there would be an infinite number of answers. You suggest three answers. What more do you need? How can we narrow this down to something answerable? $\endgroup$ – Brythan Dec 30 '16 at 16:52
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    $\begingroup$ @Jym Hilary Clinton? Oh, wait, she's a woman. Donald Trump? Hitler? Every dictator and nearly every politician ever? $\endgroup$ – Xandar The Zenon Dec 30 '16 at 23:29
  • $\begingroup$ youtube.com/watch?v=2tpvxsJAZPk / youtube.com/watch?v=D4KgJTAAiGk $\endgroup$ – Richard Dec 31 '16 at 1:24
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Holding non-fair elections because western people are crazy with the democracy. Think about Arab-summer and how western nations did some air strikes against evil dictators. Not looking though that the alternative force was some random radical rebels that are now making some problems; but worth it for the democracy.

Making a holiday resort. Tourists spend time almost exclusively on the resort by themselves and do not really communicate with the locals. The people have some fun time there, which reflects positively with their attitudes. Also western countries are less willing to engage in conflicts if they would end up putting those tourists in danger.

Buying media so that there is never a constant stream of how evil the junta is. Less media coverage is always a bonus, even if it does not completely suffocate the news.

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    $\begingroup$ Pundits & think tanks too, there should be constant stream of "experts" who never visited the country, going on media how great you are. $\endgroup$ – slobodan.blazeski Dec 30 '16 at 14:07
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Utopianism

That there were a lot of Americans who thought that the Soviet Union was turning into a worker's paradise in the 1930s. This isn't exactly a convincing argument, since while there were plenty of communist sympathizers, most of the rest of the world's government treated the Soviet Union like a pariah. But by loudly proclaiming some sort of Utopian ethos, while secretly killing and starving millions, you can still generate a lot of sympathy. Just look at all the fawning obituaries for Fidel Castro, who just died. Even the Prime Minister of Canada said nice things about him, despite plenty of evidence that he wasn't very nice.

Success

Nothing makes friends like success. Paul Kagame, President and possible dictator of Rwanda, is a good example here. His country is peaceful and stable, growing and getting richer. Yet he may or may not be a dictator. Certainly, he was the guy who 'won' the Rwandan genocide. While he was the 'good guy' in that war, I'll eat my boot if he isn't responsible for genociding at least someone. Also, in a relatively forgotten piece of history that happened within the lifetime of most readers here, Kagame instigated the invasion of Congo by rebels that started the First Congo War (1996-1997), which lead to the Second Congo War, or Great African War (1998-2003), which killed around 5 million people. So, the moral here is if you report great health care numbers to the UN, people may or may not forgive you for starting the deadliest war since WWII.

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  • $\begingroup$ That would certainly be progressive America, heralding the Soviet Union as a paradise. I think you're spot on with your answer. $\endgroup$ – Xandar The Zenon Dec 30 '16 at 23:59
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Become Useful to the West

As a refueling stop in the War on Terror. As a site for deniable prisons. As a reliable vote in the United Nations. These days "terrorist" can fill the same role as "communist" did two generations ago. Of course your junta is against terrorists, and of course the opposition are terrorists.

On a related note, be polite to the Greatest President in History. Don't confuse him with facts, and never, ever contradict him. Not even if he contradicts himself or mistakes your country for another one.

Avoid Ugly Pictures

It doesn't matter what liberal academics write in their peer-reviewed journals. As Slobodan pointed out in his comments, government-affilated think tanks may be another matter, but it is fashionable to ignore liberals. Just make sure your latests crackdown doesn't make it into the evening news.

Consider hiring a company like Hill+Knowlton.

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  • $\begingroup$ Pundits & media work together, "experts" provide BS advise, lazy biased media report them like they're true. Add eyewitnesses that support your cause to post "facts" that help your side and If no independent journalists have access to the country they would have to rely on your sources. It's a win win situation providing you have a money. $\endgroup$ – slobodan.blazeski Dec 30 '16 at 17:08
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Argue that the junta regime is the best option in a field of terrible options.

Basically, this junta you're talking about, per the fact they are selling oil, is going to have some friends – maybe that's generous – trading partners. So, conjure up some bogeyman, something far worse than what the junta is, something which must be stopped at all costs. And then, sell this narrative along with the oil.

It is easy for the junta to covertly support radical no-chance rebellions to launch attacks on the oil supply (also, since this is the most important source of revenue, any rebellion group would be launching attacks on this supply), which will infuriate foreign buyers.

The foreign buyers want their oil supply to be reliable, cheap, and dependable. This threatens those interests. So, the radical terrorists which are attacking that supply (who may or may not be funded by the regime) are threatening the global order. These terrorists are trying to sow discontent and destroy the state from the inside. They are the evil ones.

Nothing the government is doing is cruel... it is what must be done. The government simply needs to paint itself as the well-intentioned extremist. Then issue propaganda like this:

It is the for the good of the country, to fight back against radicals who want to destroy the country's values and prestige on the international stage. The opposition are composed of traitors supported by these radicals. They are collaborators trying to undermine the great strides in development we have achieved over the last few decades!

This government is dedicated to the return of peace and prosperity. We do not want to fight this war, to keep up this quarrel, but what choice do we have when we have been savagely attacked1 by terrorists who have slaughtered hundreds of innocent civilians?2 Our people demand vengeance. We must fight these foes, these terrorists which want nothing but the destruction of our way of life. What peace can be brokered with those who wish to see nothing but our nation's destruction?

Idealistic foreigners might cast doubt on our methods. But they are too naïve to understand what our nation has gone through. If they were in our shoes, they would be fighting the same fight. When the last bastion of civilisation is under attack by barbarism3 from all sides, this is not the time for idle pontificating, it is the time to do what we have to do.

1: Conflict may or may not have been started by the government.

2: Civilians may or may not have been placed into harms way by the government.

3: Barbarisms may or may not be present. To quote Orwell, "Everyone believes in the atrocities of the enemy and disbelieves in those of his own side, without ever bothering to examine the evidence".

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  • $\begingroup$ BS Assad government is dirt poor, Syria imports its oil. All the propaganda is done against them on Saudi/Qatari dime, excluding efforts by the ruskies on RT and like. $\endgroup$ – SapirWhorf Dec 30 '16 at 16:49
  • $\begingroup$ "BS Assad government is dirt poor, Syria imports its oil." — I'm not saying that this government is Syria, it simply needs to portray itself like how the Assad regime portrays itself. $\endgroup$ – ifly6 Dec 30 '16 at 16:55
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No need for fictional approaches. Real world gives you proven pathways to success.

  1. Proclaim to be for the workers, social rights, and other left wing goals.

    Doesn't matter if you are or aren't.

    Even in 1920s/30s, many of the more left leaning cultural figures liked Stalin. But we aren't in 1920s anymore. We are in 2016.

    The Victims Of Communism Memorial Foundation did a poll about Millennial attitudes for far left using YouGov. Some findings:

    • Approximately one in four Americans (26%) and one-third of millennials (32%) believe more people were killed under George W. Bush than Joseph Stalin;

    Score one for the Junta.

    • Nearly 7 in 10 (68%) of all Americans and nearly 6 in 10 (59%) of Generation Z (ages 16-20) falsely believe that more people were killed under Hitler than Stalin

    • A vast majority (75%) underestimate the number of people killed by Communist regimes (more than 100 million);

    • Of those millennials familiar with Vladimir Lenin, 25% have a favorable view of him


  2. Engage the services of a leading Western media outlet

    (most of whom are and were left leaning at best, so #1 helps to achieve this too).

    One of the reasons Stalin was and is so popular with Americans is because New York Times was squarely in his corner. Walter Duranty got a Pulitzer for whitewashing Stalin.


  1. Engage the services of media makers. Producers, film directors.

    As with #2, the approach #1 helps you win points with them.

    Have them make propaganda movies that paint you in good light.

    Cuba successfully did that with Michael Moore.

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