To be fair , the USA is not unique here. This Morally Blind Foreign Policy of ; “As long as you do not help my enemy, you are my friend ! (Even if you are a murdering crook)” , seems more to be an axiom of history than a particular American invention.~~ TP
Tuesday, February 01, 2005
Washington (The Daily Standard) -:
The president's challenge to friendly dictators.
By Duncan Currie [ an editorial assistant at The Weekly Standard..]
FDR REPORTEDLY SAID IT FIRST, though the story could be apocryphal. Sizing up Anastasio Somoza, Nicaragua's brutal (but pro-American) dictator, Roosevelt quipped, "Somoza may be a son of a b-tch, but he's our son of a b-tch."
Prescient words, if he in fact spoke them. During the Cold War, America, through sheer necessity, cultivated ties with lots of SOBs, including military regimes in Nicaragua, Guatemala, Chile, Spain, Zaire, South Vietnam, Indonesia, South Korea and the Philippines.
Conservatives often justified such alliances by the lesser-of-two-evils canon. To wit, forging pacts with nasty pro-American dictatorships prevented the rise of even nastier pro-Soviet dictatorships. So it was both moral and pragmatic to prop up "our SOBs," lest "their SOBs" take power.
But when the Soviet Empire jumped on the fast lane to the ash heap of history, many felt the our-SOB principle should go with it. Absent a global Communist threat, they reasoned, how could America continue to support despots? Then came September 11, and the subsequent war on terror. Few questioned the prudence of warming up to Pakistani strongman Pervez Musharraf. If "coddling" Musharraf helped snuff out the Taliban--and it did--then we could overlook the general's autarchic rule. Likewise, hardheaded geopolitics demanded we keep our close links with tyrannies in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Despite his pro-democracy rhetoric, Bush had to pick his battles wisely. And toppling U.S. enemies in Afghanistan and Iraq took precedence over nudging nominal U.S. allies toward liberalization. (Still, it was hard not to wince when Bush hosted Saudi crown prince Abdullah at his Texas ranch.)
Does the president's second inaugural mark a change in course?
President Bush would do well to follow suit. For, alas, we still need our SOBs. And we'll need them long after Bush leaves office. That may not be morally satisfying. But international politics has ever been thus. As Charles Krauthammer once observed, "The essence of foreign policy is deciding which son of a bitch to support and which to oppose--in 1941, Hitler or Stalin; in 1972, Brezhnev or Mao; in 1979, Somoza or Ortega. One has to choose. A blanket anti-son of a bitch policy . . . is soothing, satisfying and empty. It is not a policy at all but righteous self-delusion."
Duncan Currie is an editorial assistant at The Weekly Standard.