The quote was attributed to Franklin Roosevelt, in 1939, when someone asked him about the wisdom of supporting Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza – who ran Nicaragua (with a 3 year interruption) from 1937 to 1956.
And we have had an ongoing dilemma – between our interests and our ideals. What’s the threshold between supporting a less-than-democratic leader and abandoning them? We certainly wouldn’t support a regime like that in North Korea, with millions starving.
A generation ago I can remember reading about the human-rights abuses of the Shah of Iran – but Iran was a lynch pin in our Middle East strategy. As far as I know Iran was the only country given the F14. And, that was because of a personal request of the Shah to President Nixon – a Soviet MiG (the mavF14d would probably know the exact nomenclature but I think it was a 24) – was making regular recon incursions and it took a Tomcat to shoot it down.
It was said (primarily by those of the Left in the West) that the supporters of the Ayatollah Khomeini were “democratic reformers”.
Think of the consequences to the West in sponsored terrorism after a generation of these democratic reformers.
How much could we have influenced? And should we be trying to influence outcomes in key countries (we aren’t talking about truly democratic countries but 1 dictator vs another).
I don’t have the answers – but know the consequences are far reaching for whatever we do.
I don’t even know if the issue is a left vs right issue –
Will we be talking about the consequences of the Egyptian Revolution a generation from now? It was Anwar Sadat who gave a generation of peace between Egypt and Israel. Hosni Mubarak was his Vice President and in the same stands when Sadat was assassinated. Like the Shah a generation earlier, Mubarak was “thrown under the bus” by the current administration.
Could a more active support have made a difference? I don’t have the answer, but the effects of this revolution are not yet evident.
While this has been on my mind for a long time, a discussion Bill O’Reilly had with Brit Hume last night prompted this post – about Hamid Karzai, the head of Afghanistan.
A lot of brave Americans have died or been maimed fighting this war, to keep out the Taliban and a base for al Queda out.
And we are giving the head of Afghanistan backpacks of cash to remain “our friend”?