Thursday, September 9, 2021

Is Democracy Versus Autocracy the New Cold War?

 From PJB:

"He may be an SOB, but he's our SOB." So said President Franklin D. Roosevelt of Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza, and how very American. For, from its first days, America has colluded with autocrats when the national interest demanded it.

George Washington danced a jig in 1778 when he learned that our diplomats had effected an alliance with France's King Louis XVI. The alliance, he knew, would be indispensable to an American victory.

In April 1917, the U.S. went to war "to make the world safe for democracy" in collusion with four of the world greatest empires: the British, French, Russian and Japanese. All four annexed new colonial lands and peoples from the victory for democracy we were decisive in winning.

In World War II, we gave massive military aid to Joseph Stalin's USSR, which used it to crush, conquer and communize half of Europe.

Antonio Salazar, dictator of Portugal, was a founding member of NATO. During the Cold War, we allied with autocrats Syngman Rhee of South Korea, Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines, the shah of Iran and Gen. Augusto Pinochet of Chile. The second largest army in NATO is under the autocratic rule of Turkish President Recep Erdogan. (Read more.)

Could a monarchy have saved Afghanistan? From The Critic:

The United States is the Great Republic. It defeated King George’s men at Yorktown and saw — and sees — itself as a bulwark against monarchical despotism. Through gritted teeth sitting monarchs are tolerated, but it goes against their grain. Success stories such as Japan, when America allowed Hirohito to remain Emperor and Cambodia’s Sihanouk are balanced against the failed attempt to keep Reza Palevi on the Peacock throne in Tehran. But for Washington, restoring a deposed monarchy is a step too far.

In the case of Afghanistan, America’s refusal to countenance the return of Zahir Shah may well have proved to be their greatest failure of imagination yet.

It was 25 September 2001, less than a fortnight after the atrocities of 9/11 and I was in Rome, ostensibly to discuss the latest European Union development amongst fellow members of the European People’s Party at the Pamphilj Palace. They were going to draft a constitution for the continent. Instead, we found ourselves in a rain-stained, brutalist villa in Oligata, a gated community on one of Rome’s outer hills. Inside sound was muffled by old, but exquisite, carpets, deadening our shoeless approach. The walls hung with a plethora of photographs, mostly monochrome and sepia: men, men in uniforms, men in beards. (Read more.) 

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