View Poll Results: When should the US support authoritarianism?

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  • We should support authoritarian governments when it suits our interests

    3 10.71%
  • We should when they support our interests AND the alternative is also authoritarian

    3 10.71%
  • We should never support authoritarianism

    16 57.14%
  • Other

    6 21.43%
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Thread: When should the US support authoritarian governments?

  1. #11
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    Re: When should the US support authoritarian governments?

    I think I understand where Eco's coming from, although I'm closer to what Madlib believes about what 'authoritarianism' really means.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but Eco believes that one can use authoritarian means to impose ideas of western-style liberal democracy on a conservative/fundamentalist/dictatorial régime and that the fruits of that change will seep into the political culture, initially by force and later by consent. How'm I doing?

    Gardener's point about Ataturkist Turkey is relevant in that Mustafa Kemal thought along those lines. The idea that liberal democracy is something to aspire to, to educate the populace about and to eventually achieve is not necessarily something that happens overnight. Atatürk was perhaps the most reluctant dictator the world's ever seen; he never saw his dictatorship as anything other than a transitional phase towards democracy.

    Atatürk, while being nothing remotely like a Marxist, did coincide with Lenin and Trotsky in seeing the necessity of going through a phase of political transition; him via a dictatorship, them by a proletarian vanguard, the 'dictatorship of the proletariat'.

    The problem was, and is, that the transition never takes place, not in those would-be communist states, not in Atatürkist Turkey, and not in those US puppet dictatorships, of which there have been many. South Vietnam, Pinochet's Chile, Saudi Arabia, Karzai's Afghanistan or post-war Iraq, none of these countries where the US has had high hopes of implanting liberal democracy have seen that system take hold. Is it the implementation that's at fault or the very concept of imposing an alien system on a political culture for which it isn't appropriate?
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  2. #12
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    Re: When should the US support authoritarian governments?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gardener View Post
    I think that we should support those governments that deliver the most freedom to the most people. In some cases, those governments that are more authoritarian in nature can actually do such, as in the case of Turkey under Kemel Ataturk. He was a strong leader and had some authoritarian tendencies, but he delivered human rights in the process.

    Conversely, we have situations such as Egypt today where elections only lead to an erosion of civil rights as ignorant, backwards people put knuckle-dragging religious zealots into power.
    In all fairness, Egyptians haven't really been psychologically or culturally conditioned to understand the basic concepts of freedom and equality, so it was really (imo) stupid of us, collectively, to expect otherwise. I know that many people over here became exhuberant and excited to see budding democracies in the ME, but some of us pretty much knew what to expect, which is exactly what has happened. Sad that it is the case, but the best we can hope for, in my mind, is something similar to what they had before. What I actually expect, is something worse than they had before, and some retrograde movement in the region.
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  3. #13
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    Re: When should the US support authoritarian governments?

    Quote Originally Posted by MadLib View Post
    There is an inherent contradiction in our ideals of promotion of freedom, and our support of autocracies such as Saudi Arabia and South Vietnam. When is such support justified?
    We should never support or work with authoritarian governments.
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  4. #14
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    Re: When should the US support authoritarian governments?

    Quote Originally Posted by ecofarm View Post
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    Re: When should the US support authoritarian governments?

    Other, the vote
    Our primary interest should be the people in that nation, authoritarian government or not.
    In order for a representative democracy ,such as ours, to be good and effective, the people must be educated and they must participate.
    IMO, we can do much better in this area...much reform is necessary...
    In some other nations on this planet, we do not even have this state of development, thus, the people need a "king" or a dictator, they simply re not ready for full democracy, but maybe partial - depending...
    Many of the world nations are in this state of development...The "Arab Spring" has proved this..
    So, yes, we should have "relations" with non-democratic governments and we should be, very carefully, working with the government and the people to, in the future, install the government that the people want....

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    Re: When should the US support authoritarian governments?

    Quote Originally Posted by MadLib View Post
    When I mention authoritarianism, I'm not talking about rule of law. I'm talking about what you might consider totalitarianism, or dictatorship, etc.
    Saudi Arabia is not a dictatorship.. Its a monarchy by consensus.

  7. #17
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    Re: When should the US support authoritarian governments?

    I voted never. It's blown up in our face too many times. Case in point: The Shah of Iran. If you're not familiar with the history of that debacle, look it up.

  8. #18
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    Re: When should the US support authoritarian governments?

    It depends what you mean by "support". Do you mean prop up? Do you mean put in place? Or do you mean don't hunt them down and forcibly remove them from power? Unfortunately, we're really good at installing and supporting authoritarian dictators because they do what we want them to do, then when they stop doing our bidding, we go in and take them out.

    We need to stop doing that.
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    Re: When should the US support authoritarian governments?

    Other, We should only ever "support" them if they recognize certain human rights or if by supporting/working with them we can leverage changes by making the "support" temporary and up for periodic review. Each time support comes up, we seek a concession for it to continue.

    G.H. Bush used economic trade to leverage "capitalist" zones in China.

    Reagan/Bush used support to the Philippines to help oust Marcos and bring about Democracy in that country.

    Overtime, the US has also encouraged and aided the change from totalitarianism to Democracy in South Korea.

    G.W. Bush leveraged the introduction of Democratic process in Saudi Arabia. While it did not change the overall nature of their National Government, it did bring about elections on some local levels in the country.

    G.W. Bush leveraged a change from a Dictatorship to Democracy in Pakistan.

    Sometimes this method works, sometimes it doesn't. If it doesn't, then we should pull away totally from Dictatorial regimes. I don't see it having a huge affect on Saudi Arabia. But, had Clinton, G.W. Bush and now Obama continued the approach used by G.H. Bush in China, China would be doing much better moving away from totalitarianism and towards Democracy and improving their human rights record.
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    Re: When should the US support authoritarian governments?

    I think this is a question better suited to our past and present COCs. Samoza, the Nazis and ME dictators - authoritarianism is no enemy to the United States.

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