Since 1945 the United States has backed many dictators in order to protect what it considered its National Interests. It did this without any regard for the citizens of those countries.
Secretary of State, Condolezza Rice said about the Middle East, “For 60 years my country has pursued stability at the expense of democracy in this region…by trying to purchase stability at the price of liberty, we achieved neither and we saw the result of that on a fine September morning.”
It was a courageous statement and a step in the right direction. Unfortunately America’s National Interests are more important than America’s words and actions.
With Dulles’ encouragement, the Shah made the Iranian people an offer they couldn’t refuse – join his party or go to jail. Thousands who refused to yield were imprisoned or murdered. During regional elections in 1954, the Shah’s agents raided a religious school and hurled hundreds of students to their deaths from the roof.
His regime received one hundred percent of the vote that year, in an election which registered more votes than there were voters. In 1979 the Shah was overthrown. The fallout from that still effects American foreign policy today.
Ultimately, he angered his own military officers because he promoted on the basis of loyalty – not merit. In an effort to keep Diem in power, the U.S. tried to persuade him to make political reforms. He refused, so they persuaded him to make “military reforms.”
But when Diem was finally overthrown and assassinated in 1963, none of his generals rose to defend him. Nor did the U.S., which, after 8 years, had finally realized that Diem wasn’t popular.
The Carter Administration engineered an $88 million World Bank loan to Marcos, increased military aid to him by three hundred percent and called him a “soft dictator”. But a 1976 Amnesty International report identified eighty-eight government torturers and stated that alleged subversives had their heads slammed into walls, their genitals and pubic hair torched, and were beaten with clubs, fists, bottles and rifle butts.
Like most foreign-policy insiders, Rumsfeld was aware that Saddam was a murderous thug who supported terrorists and was trying to build a nuclear weapon. But at the time, America’s big worry was Iran, not Iraq.
The Reagan administration feared that the Iranian revolutionaries who had overthrown the shah (and taken hostage American diplomats for 444 days in 1979-81) would overrun the Middle East and its vital oilfields. Top officials in the Reagan administration saw Saddam as a useful surrogate.
Noriega warned Bush that he had information which could change the course of the 1988 U.S. elections and the CIA backed off, but when Noriega “annulled” Panama’s 1989 elections, citing CIA interference, Bush renewed attempts to unseat his one-time ally.
Critics called Bush’s failure to support an abortive 1989 coup “indecisive,” but his response to that criticism, the December 1989 invasion of Panama, led to world condemnation.
In Egypt, President Hosni Mubarak is now facing tens of thousands of angry citizens. These citizens are angry with the United States. They see Mubarak’s control over them as directly related to Washington’s support of Mubarak’s corrupt regime.
Washington does not want a hardline Islamic regime in Egypt. Especially one that is anti-American, anti- Israel and well armed. If old patterns prevail Washington will wait until the last minute to see what way the wind blows before deciding to support or turn its back on Mubarak.
If he chooses force over exile how will the United States respond? When it comes to dictators Washington always blows with the prevailing winds. The following dictatorships are still supported by the United States, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. These two countries will be closely watching events in Egypt.