Zimbabwe's recent presidential elections are still making international news headlines. Facing international condemnation and the threat of severe sanctions, President Robert Mugabe appears now agreeable to enter into talks with representatives of the opposition party.

A little background: This past June 28th, Mr. Mugabe won reelection to a new presidential term with more than 85% of the vote. A landslide victory by any measuring stick.

So why is the international community so outraged? For some reason, they are unhappy with some of the tactics Mugabe's henchmen used to secure this victory. They killed, brutally beat and destroyed the homes of anyone who expressed support for the opposition. The leader of the opposition, Morgan Tsvangirai, actually withdrew his candidacy prior to the elections due to the violence. He said that his supporters faced being killed if they voted for him and that under such circumstances he could not ask them to do so. Mr. Tsvangirai now estimates that 90 of his supporters have been killed.

So here's my question: Why do dictators habitually schedule rigged elections? Why not just abolish them? The people's voice matters not to them, so why go through the effort? Is there anyone – within that country or internationally – who believes that these election results express the will of the people?

Iraq is another example. In October 2002, Saddam Hussein won reelection with 100% of the vote. Yes, there were 11,445,638 eligible voters—and every one of them voted for Hussein. Apparently his popularity had soared since the previous election in 1995, when Hussein garnered only 99.96% of the vote.

Oops, I almost forgot to mention that Hussein was the only candidate on the ballot and that the penalty for speaking badly about that sole candidate was de-tonguing. But you don't think that had any bearing on the election results, do you?

Rabbi Shmuel of Lubavitch, the fourth Chabad-Lubavitch Rebbe, once told the following to one of his followers who apparently exuded less-than-honest pious airs:

"Whom are you fooling? You are not fooling me, you are not fooling your fellows; you are only fooling yourself. Is it a great feat to fool a fool?"

How many times do people take stances which deep down they know isn't justified? Usually, people take such stances due to anger, hurt feelings, or to protect their egos or comfort zones. Yet, if someone will come and ask such a person to explain his behavior, he will provide an intelligent and coherent explanation—one which, of course, does not involve any ego. To the contrary, his position is based on his selflessness; in fact it pains him greatly to have to resort to such behavior...

This is true regarding our spiritual lives, too. How often do we choose to do something we know to be detrimental to our spiritual wellbeing, or conversely, to abstain from doing a mitzvah—while providing a justification which we know doesn't hold water?

Whom are we fooling? Not G‑d. And not our family or friends either. They are a little brighter than we give them credit for.

Thankfully, the world is progressively ridding itself of tyrannical dictators. Next on the agenda? Let's all get rid of the little foolish, self-delusional, self-justifying dictator within each of us.