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Washington’s Incoherent Policy Towards Dictators

January 30, 2019 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

Throughout both the Cold War and the post-Cold War eras, U.S.
policy regarding dictatorships has been one of unprincipled
extremes.

Behavior toward “friendly dictators” has often been
embarrassingly cozy. Indeed, Washington often seems to prefer cooperative tyrants to the unpredictability of
democratic governments in Third World countries and the policies
they might adopt. Thus, during the Cold War, the United States
avidly supported ruthless dictatorial regimes in such places as
South Korea, Taiwan, Zaire, Egypt, and Nicaragua. On several
occasions, U.S. administrations even used the CIA to overthrow
obstreperous democratic governments and help install vicious
successors deemed to be pro-American. Such operations took place in
Iran, Guatemala, Chile, and elsewhere.

Washington’s preference for autocratic allies has not
entirely disappeared. U.S. officials have shown few signs of displeasure with Egypt’s
government, even though the Egyptian military ousted Mohamed Morsi
after he was democratically elected. Likewise, the Trump
administration’s relationship with Saudi Arabia’s
murderous totalitarian theocracy remains exceedingly close, despite Riyadh’s
genocidal war in Yemen and other outrages.

It’s been either
self-serving fawning collaboration or hostile meddling. Will
Venezuela be any different?

Conversely, U.S. hostility towards autocratic governments deemed
unfriendly to American economic or strategic interests appears to
know no bounds. Both the Obama and Trump administrations have
backed an active policy of regime change against Syrian leader
Bashar al-Assad. Washington was even more proactive in the cases of
Iraq and Libya, leading regime change wars that ousted Saddam
Hussein and Moammar Gaddafi. U.S. policy toward Iran’s
clerical government clearly aims to achieve the same result.

America’s leaders thus appear incapable of adopting a balanced,
nuanced policy toward dictatorships. Washington’s stance is one of
either fawning collaboration or blatantly hostile meddling. But the
Trump administration now has an opportunity to correct that problem
and adopt a reasonable middle course with regard to developments in
Venezuela.

Nicolás Maduro’s regime deserves no sympathy, much less support,
from anyone. Maduro and his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, adopted
socialist economic policies that transformed Venezuela from one of
Latin America’s most prosperous countries into an utterly dysfunctional nightmare. In an effort
to preserve their political rule, Chavez and Maduro also pursued
ever-tightening authoritarian measures. They defenestrated the
business community, eradicated a free press, and jailed political
opponents. Even though Maduro supposedly won re-election in the May
2018 presidential contest, the balloting was a textbook example of wide-scale fraud. Venezuela
has gradually transformed from a socialist, illiberal democracy to
a thinly disguised dictatorship.

Serious political turmoil has escalated now that opposition
leader Juan Guaido, the head of the National Assembly, declared
himself acting president, challenging …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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