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Why U.S. Sometimes Supports Dictatorial Regimes -- Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt

Reader comment on item: Bush's Middle East Hopes [and His Failures]
in response to reader comment: Dictatorial Regime

Submitted by Sofa Sogood (United States), Jan 22, 2008 at 16:09

The transmission of my 1-17-08 comment got messed up and mixed up. It's corrected now, and I answer your question about dictatorships and Pakistan there. Please read it again.

I wrote the paragraphs below, and then looked at your question again. You said "elected" government, not "democracy"-- so you're asking why US relationship is better with Dictators in Pakistan than with elected governments in Pakistan -- and you're eliminating the question of democracy for now.

I don't know the specific history of the various governments and dictators in Pakistan. I know the U.S. was eager to see an election that would empower Bhutto in a coalition with Musharrif, and as far as I know, she was for a Secular Government and fairly Pro-American. I think the U.S. would support an elected Islamist government if it was very Pro-American and the U.S. felt that could last. Trouble is there are no elected Islamist governments that are Pro-American.

Elected Islamist governments are invariably Anti-American. Dictators, Islamist or not, are sometimes -- and only sometimes -- more flexible toward a relationship with the U.S. I think it's because the dictates of religious ideology are usually not #1 on their minds. Maybe, in the case of Pakistan, Jordan, and Egypt, U.S. money helps their economy, and helps them support their Defense and Military. The U.S. militarily protected Kuwait and Saudi Arabia from Saddam's war machine.

Elected Islamists usually are very directed by their religious leaders -- who most often hate America and Democracy and don't care about whether the U.S. helps them financially or militarily or not. I suppose these are some of the reasons. Maybe there are others. So, to go back to what I originally wrote here:

I will add that there's no question that the U.S. would always prefer to support a real democracy. That is surely in our own interest. However, while the U.S. has some options, it is very often limited in it's choices of who it must support -- and that sometimes includes dictatorships. But then, any country has a right to look out for itself and its own interests -- including the U.S. It doesn't forego this right just because it's a rich country -- otherwise it wouldn't stay healthy -- or safe.

How could anyone think that the U.S. ought to support an Islamic Sharia Government (and therefore not a "democracy" anyway) which would be anti-American, just because it was "elected?" Or support any government which would be harmful to the U.S? The answer is obvious

Also added to what I said about Pakistan -- While Musharrif is a big problem, the choice is between him and the Islamist Party. They won't be any more "democratic" and they will be even much more anti-American -- and might be less trustworthy to keep the nuclear materials out of the hands of those who would harm us and others. Security of those weapons is the major priority. So the US supports him as the lesser evil -- that is, those in power in the U.S. now.

That could change as there are many Americans who prefer misinformed ideals to the facts of reality. And support is just that -- support. It's not total control. The Pakistanis could oust him. It would probably be a disaster for everyone -- even worse than the situation now.

If Pakistan were able to create a really free Secular Democracy, control or at least suppress its dangerous Islamists and wild and violent tribal elements, concentrate on economic growth, development and Peace, and be at least somewhat Pro-American, the U.S. would wholeheartedly support that government. (The more Pro-American, the more "wholeheartedly" -- it's natural). It would also support any government which was ernestely and honestly working to go in that direction -- as long as it was determined to and strong enough to protect those nuclear weapons. (Bhutto???)

If you're asking why the relationship is not good between the U.S. and Islamists elected by majority rule (which are not democracies) -- I can only guess why the Islamists hate the U.S., the West and Democracy in general. It might be because of the Islamist intention to have Islam "rule the world." It might be because in general, in the past (and present), whether rule by majority Islamists or Dictatorships, Pakistan and the Middle Eastern countries have been very violent inside their own countries, and have placed more emphasis on making war with their neighbors (i.e., Pakistan-India) than they have on growing their economies.

Look at Iran. They can easily be growing their economy, but would rather make trouble with Hezbollah in Lebanon and elsewhere, and keep threatening to drop a bomb on Israel -- because of religious ideology and because they dream of dominating the region.

Is hatred of the U.S. by the people in those countries caused by U.S. support of the dictators? I don't believe so -- Dictatorships were a way of life in the Middle East before any idea of "elections" was prevalent. Islamists have hated us since the 1920's because the Moslem Brotherhood formed and wanted control (we didn't support Nassar), so they infused into their people that we were "Dar al Harb." Their way of control is to focus the hatred of their people against an "enemy" and fill them with dreams of World Islamic Conquest and Dominance -- appealing to the worst instincts in human nature.

(Currently, a large part of the Muslim world has been brainwashed into believing that the West is attacking Islam and they have to protect themselves and their religion from us!! Thus, when non-Muslims in the West refuse to be dominated by or follow or accommodate some Sharia rule, Muslims feel attacked and consider their own attack religious self-defense!!)

In Jordan, Egypt and Saudia Arabia, why should the U.S. support Islamist Governments who might happen to be "elected" but are not democracies, and are Anti-American? Do you think we ought to support those who would be our enemy? The dictators of those countries govern in a way that is no more repressive than the Islamists would be -- and the Dictators might actually be less repressive, seem less inclined to make war so far, and there's more order.

Those Governments also probably discourage terrorism, at least, more than Elected Islamist Governments would -- or encourage it less -- however you want to put it. And then, Hezbollah-like or Hamas-like governments could be elected, which are themselves terrorists and violent totalitarians.

There might be more reasons, but these ought to do for now.

Don't forget that the U.S. had a very good relationship with the elected Turkish Government as long as their government was Secular and going more and more towards a real Democracy. Now that they have elected an Islamist government, the relationship is falling apart -- because they are now Islamist and anti-American.

During the Soviet era, the U.S. needed to support governments that would side with the U.S.-- and not with the Soviets -- period. It's not perfection, but America can't always be perfectly in line with its own ideals. Loyalty to proven "allies" is a very important priority. We hope to do our very best to support "real" Democracies. (George Bush was very mistaken to try to "push" elections and call that Democracy). But beyond that, balances and priorities have to be dealt with. Keeping to ideals can never be siucidal.

There are always devilish choices that have to be made, and then, perhaps, some of those choices, in retrospect, might be considered wrong for the U.S. itself and the others involved. Some decisions the U.S. Government has made have clearly been very mistaken -- depending upon who was in power at the time -- but democracies like the U.S. evolve, and hopefully, learn from experience and can change directions.

Should the U.S. be such a big trading partner with China -- a Communist Dictatorship? It remains to be seen.

Should the U.S. support a Palestinian State as they are now doing? Absolutely not. Not until they have completely and thoroughly given up violence and the idea of destroying their neighbor -- and are committed to improving their own lives and prospering.

Should the U.S. have supported Saddam in the '80's? At that time, the Iranians had recently invaded our embassy, taken our diplomats hostage for over a year, and we were concerned that if they blockaded our access to oil, we would have to go to war with Iran ourselves. Saddam's conflict with Iran kept that war at bay, and kept the Iranians from doing all the harm they are doing now in Lebanon and all over the Middle East and beyond. Did we like supporting him? No. Did we feel we had to? Yes. Was it right or wrong or good or bad? Yes.

Should we (the part of our government that did) support Osama Bin Laden and the Mujahadeen against the Soviets? Yes, for what we knew. We didn't know what he was. Our CIA let us down and didn't do their "research" on him and his beliefs.

Should the U.S. abandon it's support of the Saudi Arabian Government and support instead the Wahabbi's who would be "elected by the majority?" It certainly wouldn't be a democracy. And that "majority" would most likely unleash even more terrorists, would attempt to harm the U.S. more than they are doing now, and would probably cut off our oil. It's a ridiculous idea to even think about. Same for Jordan and Egypt.

Sometimes people look at things in general and say, "If it's not perfect, then it's all bad." The U.S., as the world's great superpower, while doing good for itself, has done so very much good for humanity -- Europe after the War, South Korea, Japan, etc. etc. -- although it cannot be everybody's answer to a perfect world. It doesn't have the power to create a perfect world for everyone -- no one does.

I don't know which country you are from, or why you call yourself "Shahid," so the following may be irrelevant to you, but I'll say it anyway.

While visiting a European country a couple of years ago, my friends took me into their local pub and made introductions. One of the crowd piped up, "I don't like America!" I pulled him over and whispered into his ear, "Me neither. I wish we were not paying for NATO, so I could have free health insurance instead of you. Then you could pay for NATO, take the brunt of all the remarks from people who benefitted from but didn't like the choices your country had to make, and I could feel real superior by saying, "Hey, I don't like your country. So, please, you be the Superpower. Or, on the other hand, you could just be speaking Russian now, while I take my 6 week paid vacation."

So much perfection is not only expected, but demanded of America -- it's a damaging fantasy.

Which country, can I ask you, would have done or would do better for the world if it were the leader and superpower? Germany? Japan? The Soviet Union? Putin's Russia? China? England? France? Norway? -- I don't believe any would have done better -- and probably would have done a lot worse.


Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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Reader comments (87) on this item

Title Commenter Date Thread
America's Traitors [163 words]John HammondFeb 12, 2008 22:22120051
The Policy of Friends and Imagination. [201 words]JayJan 23, 2008 23:43118855
A President who's been left behind [284 words]Roy WeinbergJan 20, 2008 11:49118625
Not So Simple [87 words]BlackspeareJan 21, 2008 11:06118625
Blackspeare rewrites history [263 words]InfidelJan 25, 2008 19:28118625
Who Jumped What Gun? [259 words]Sofa SogoodJan 27, 2008 16:09118625
Bush's Legacy [533 words]Gil BindelglasJan 18, 2008 20:31118516
Bush's Legacy [94 words]InfidelJan 19, 2008 21:38118516
To Infidel [129 words]Larry B.Jan 20, 2008 20:23118516
The world needs a strong USA [110 words]InfidelJan 20, 2008 23:41118516
Fighting terrorism [101 words]Linda HaslamJan 24, 2008 11:17118516
Maybe there is a cultural determinism [235 words]Peter HerzJan 18, 2008 11:51118457
cultural diversity and cultural acceptance. [319 words]Trans-parereJan 19, 2008 18:03118457
With such friends... [818 words]Y brandstetter MDJan 18, 2008 04:53118444
Corruption and ignorance [213 words]Joe KaffirJan 19, 2008 01:33118444
Churchill no friend of the Jews [88 words]InfidelJan 19, 2008 21:54118444
Churchill: friend or foe [171 words]Joe KaffirJan 21, 2008 00:55118444
Churchill: friend and foe [250 words]InfidelJan 22, 2008 02:12118444
Antisemitism-shmantishmemitism [198 words]Peter HerzJan 23, 2008 07:38118444
Israel's True Hope is in the Word of Her Eternal Sovereign. [545 words]M. ToveyJan 23, 2008 13:30118444
Tragic [27 words]Abu NudnikJan 17, 2008 23:38118430
BUSH HAS LOST CONTROL OF HIS MIDEAST POLICY TO STATE DEPT ARABISTS [139 words]G. MarcusJan 17, 2008 23:21118429
PLO Phased Plan To Destroy Israel Documented - State Dept. Follows It [35 words]Sofa SogoodJan 18, 2008 23:43118429
The middle east is complicated. [536 words]DavidJan 17, 2008 21:01118424
Should islam be accorded the respect accorded to other religions? [335 words]Hymie ZoltsveisJan 17, 2008 16:51118402
How 'bout this one [84 words]jennifer solisJan 18, 2008 00:33118402
The respect islam craves [208 words]SeanJan 18, 2008 15:56118402
I ABSOLUTELY AGREE WITH YOU,HYMIE! [172 words]TTSJan 18, 2008 21:18118402
Hymie..TTS.. You get it right..Look at the Egyptian example..1400 years of persecution.. [265 words]Egyptian ChristianJan 20, 2008 07:16118402
1TO SURVIVE JIHAD ONSLAUGHT, WEST NEEDS TO REPEAL ISLAM'S 'RELIGION' STATUS [324 words]G. MarcusJan 20, 2008 15:41118402
islam guarantees.......... [77 words]vijayJan 21, 2008 12:45118402
Respect for Islam [57 words]Linda HaslamJan 24, 2008 11:29118402
I wish that both of us were WRONG [985 words]Hymie ZoltsveisJan 24, 2008 19:15118402
To Linda, [109 words]Larry B.Feb 2, 2008 14:14118402
The specter of another Viet-Nam or ...The Continuing [22 words]trans-parereJan 17, 2008 15:41118398
A "democracy" is only as good or as bad as the people [257 words]rickJan 21, 2008 16:02118398
Rick [303 words]Trans-parereJan 21, 2008 18:29118398
Rick gets it exactly right -- on two vital points [100 words]Charles MartelJan 22, 2008 11:22118398
Islam, historically has been an enemy of diversity [527 words]RickJan 22, 2008 16:48118398
Support [116 words]Shahid KinnareJan 17, 2008 15:20118397
Israel History [192 words]InfidelJan 17, 2008 16:49118397
Israel. [51 words]Shahid KinnareJan 17, 2008 18:31118397
1Muslims know Israel has ALWAYS belonged to Jews- Including muhamad.. [467 words]YnnatchkahJan 17, 2008 19:51118397
Voting Does Not Make a Democracy -- Gov't by Sharia Law Can Never Be a Democracy -- Worse than Most Dictatorships [1733 words]Sofa SogoodJan 17, 2008 21:54118397
5History of Muhammad and the Jews of Mecca [139 words]InfidelJan 18, 2008 22:01118397
Great comments, Infidel! It's time to be proactive, instead of reactive, to "Palestinian" propaganda. [316 words]DrRJPJan 19, 2008 11:03118397
Dictatorial Regime [73 words]Shahid KinnareJan 19, 2008 11:08118397
Very Impressive- Infidel [11 words]YnnatchkahJan 19, 2008 16:47118397
Us Support of Dictatorship [50 words]JoeJan 21, 2008 19:47118397
Why U.S. Sometimes Supports Dictatorial Regimes -- Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt [1879 words]Sofa SogoodJan 22, 2008 16:09118397
Dictator. [152 words]Shahid KinnareJan 22, 2008 21:15118397
Jewish Right of Return ---to Mecca OR Why muslims MUST be forced to DIVIDE MECCA [119 words]Hymie ZoltsveisJan 25, 2008 01:51118397
Dictatorship or Militant Theocracy [184 words]JoeJan 25, 2008 03:30118397
Blaming the U.S. is Too Easy [285 words]Sofa SogoodJan 25, 2008 23:35118397
Muslim world [150 words]Shahid KinnareJan 27, 2008 23:46118397
Support for Dictatorship Means Security [121 words]JoeJan 30, 2008 12:31118397
General Musharraf [89 words]Shahid KinnareJan 31, 2008 21:57118397
Myanmar vs Pakistan [85 words]JoeFeb 3, 2008 15:49118397
Inaccurate information being put forth [121 words]TroyNov 21, 2009 01:00118397
THE DEATH OF JESUS IS THE BIGGEST SECRET IN THE QURAN [124 words]OSAMAMay 15, 2014 02:26118397
NOT UNDERSTANDING WHAT YOU ARE SAYING TO THE WORLD [76 words]AMARA KONNEHApr 30, 2015 09:26118397
Bush and Middle East [100 words]Janusz KowalikJan 17, 2008 14:49118396
I agree and would add to your comment [397 words]kid berthaJan 21, 2008 12:21118396
IFF Failure - Mis-identification of the Enemy [153 words]M. ToveyJan 17, 2008 14:07118391
Daniel has converged toward my despair of Bush's incompetence [173 words]Charles MartelJan 17, 2008 12:42118388
full- steam backwards [228 words]Rebecca MouldsJan 17, 2008 12:13118386
Not everything is in the political arena [66 words]David W. LincolnJan 17, 2008 12:07118384
Pragmatism vs Principles [262 words]Ralph C Whaley MDJan 17, 2008 11:17118382
Iran is not the main enemy -- the Saudis are [86 words]Charles MartelJan 18, 2008 13:06118382
Bush is moving towards strike three [339 words]RickJan 17, 2008 09:45118378
Not to Worry [97 words]BlackspeareJan 18, 2008 13:54118378
Whatever Abbas does or does not do is meaningless [246 words]RickJan 21, 2008 12:44118378
Democracy [142 words]Donald W. BalesJan 17, 2008 09:29118377
Bush's legacy: Sucking up to the Saudis and a stupid state department [369 words]DrRJPJan 17, 2008 08:55118376
Bush's Middle East Hopes [1018 words]Kim SegarJan 17, 2008 08:26118373
Seven years too late. [64 words]Larry ShawJan 17, 2008 08:23118372
THE RISE OF NUCLEAR IRAN [3645 words]Bruce SterlingJan 17, 2008 07:58118371
Being politically correct [59 words]MickJan 17, 2008 06:10118369
Vote Keep America Alive [83 words]Amil ImaniJan 17, 2008 04:14118366
How come this proclivity to failure in the Middle East is not addressed by the checks and balances of the American political system? [126 words]Mladen AndrijasevicJan 17, 2008 03:17118365
US system clearly doesn't work as intended [86 words]Charles MartelJan 18, 2008 13:35118365
Yes, What is Preventing the Securing of the Borders? [62 words]Sofa SogoodJan 18, 2008 22:13118365
Some problems don't have palatable solutions and some questions don't have simple answers [128 words]SullyJan 21, 2008 08:26118365
The Israelis, quite naturally, want to live in peace. And so do the Palestinians. - This statement needs clarification. [300 words]Mladen AndrijasevicJan 22, 2008 01:54118365
What Evidence is there that Palestinians Want to Live in Peace? [167 words]Sofa SogoodJan 22, 2008 15:07118365
Mladen and Sofa - You have read more into my comment than I intended [64 words]SullyJan 25, 2008 09:18118365
1Nothing was read in -- You said that Palestinians want peace. [319 words]Sofa SogoodJan 25, 2008 23:15118365

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