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Reunion of "SEATO leaders in "Manila, 1966, with the presence of authoritarian leaders "Nguyen Cao Ky from "South Vietnam (first from left, with Australian Prime Minister "Harold Holt at his side), "Park Chung-Hee from "South Korea (third from the left), "Ferdinand Marcos from "Philippines (fourth from the left, with New Zealand Prime Minister "Keith Holyoake at his right) and "Thanom Kittikachorn from "Thailand (second from the right, with U.S. President "Lyndon B. Johnson at his side)

Over the last century, the "United States government has provided, and continues to provide, financial assistance, education, arms, military training and technical support to numerous authoritarian regimes across the world. A variety of reasons have been provided to justify the apparent contradictions between support for dictators and the democratic ideals expressed in the "United States Constitution.

Prior to the "Russian Revolution, support for dictators was often based on furthering American economic and political priorities, such as opening foreign markets to American manufacturers. Following the rise of "communism, the United States government took advantage of McCarthyite fears to justify overthrowing democratically-elected presidents around the globe, especially in Latin America. The U.S. funded Right-wing opposition to these leaders and after the coups sent abundant aid, credit, and investments in order to persuade the dictators to prioritize U.S. interests. It spent heavily on CIA propaganda campaigns[1] to undermine progressive leaders and destabilize the countries in order to help justify the military stepping in. The fact that the U.S.-backed military tanks met no Communist forces nor stockpiles of Soviet weapons as they seized power did not seem to hinder the U.S. government from continuing to cite anti-Communism as a reason for supporting these coups.[2] In truth, the target countries often held resources the U.S. coveted, such as copper in Chile, iron in Brazil, and tin in Bolivia. Right-wing dictatorships were better safeguards of U.S. and transnational interests than leaders like Allende (Chile) and Goulart (Brazil).[3][4][5] Such assistance continued despite the belief expressed by many that this contradicted the political ideals espoused by the U.S. during the "Cold War and despite the fact that the dictators the U.S. installed tortured and murdered tens of thousands of innocent civilians.[6] Continued support of dictatorships even after their human rights abuses were known was geared toward continuing to maintain a conducive environment for American corporate interests abroad, such as the "United Fruit Company or "Standard Oil.[7][6] While some ideological constructs such as the "Truman Doctrine and the "Kirkpatrick Doctrine attempted to justify such interventions, they did not justify supporting violators of the Geneva Convention. As of 2017, the U.S. government has neither acknowledged nor apologized for its role in not only suppressing reports of human rights violations caused by these regimes, but its own role in training the torturers, murderers, and death squads via the School of the Americas.[7][8]

From the 1980s onwards, after the "Iranian Revolution, the United States government began to fear that its interests would be threatened by the increasingly popular "Islamist movements in the "Middle East, and began to work to secure cooperative authoritarian regimes in the region, while isolating, weakening, or removing, uncooperative ones.[9] In recent years, many policy analysts and commentators have expressed support for this type of policy, despite that this contradicted the political ideals espoused by the U.S. during the "War on Terror, with some believing that regional stability is more important than democracy.[10][11] The United States continues to support authoritarian regimes today. However, international relations scholar David Skidmore believes that increased public pressure is motivating a shift away from supporting authoritarian regimes, and towards supporting more consensual regimes instead.[12]


Authoritarian regimes currently supported[edit]

Date of support Country Regime Notes
1991–present  "Azerbaijan "Heydar Aliyev; "Ilham Aliyev[13][14]
1971–present  "Bahrain "House of Khalifa[15] [16]
1984–present  "Brunei "Hassanal Bolkiah[17][18][19][20]
1998–present  "Cambodia "Hun Sen[21]
1982–present  "Cameroon "Paul Biya[22][23]
1990–present  "Chad "Idriss Déby[24]
1999–present  "Djibouti "Ismaïl Omar Guelleh[25][26]
2014–present  "Egypt "Abdel Fattah el-Sisi[27]
1979–present  "Equatorial Guinea "Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo[28]
1991–present  "Ethiopia "Meles Zenawi[28]
1967–present  "Gabon "Ali Bongo Ondimba;"Omar Bongo[29]
1954–present  "Jordan "Hashemite Dynasty[30][31]
1992–present  "Kazakhstan "Nursultan Nazarbayev[32][33]
1961–present  "Kuwait "Kuwaiti Royal Family[34][35]
2009-present  "Mauritania "Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz[36]
1956–present  "Morocco "Alaouite dynasty[37]
1970–present  "Oman "Qaboos bin Said al Said[38]
1972–present  "Qatar "House of Thani[39][40]
2000–present  "Rwanda "Paul Kagame[41]
1945–present  "Saudi Arabia "House of Saud[42][43][38]
1959–present  "Singapore "People's Action Party[44][45]
1994–present  "Tajikistan "Emomali Rahmon[28]
2014–present  "Thailand "Prayut Chan-o-cha[46]
2010–present[47]  "Turkey "Recep Tayyip Erdoğan[48][49][50]
2006–present  "Turkmenistan "Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow[28]
1986–present  "Uganda "Yoweri Museveni[51]
1971–present  "United Arab Emirates "United Arab Emirates[52]
2016–present  "Uzbekistan "Shavkat Mirziyoyev[53]
2011–present  "Vietnam "Trương Tấn Sang[28]
2012–present  "Yemen "Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi[54]

Authoritarian regimes supported in the past[edit]

President "Barack Obama and First Lady "Michelle Obama with "Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow of "Turkmenistan, September 2009, one of the most repressive regimes in the world,[55] supported with millions of dollars in military aid.[56]
Middle East special envoy "Donald Rumsfeld meeting "Saddam Hussein on 19–20 December 1983.
The general Marcos Pérez Jiménez receive the ""Legion of Merit" in Caracas (February 13, 1954) by US ambassador Fletcher Warren
Presidents "Emílio G. Médici (left) and "Richard Nixon, December 1971. A hardliner, Médici sponsored the greatest human rights abuses of "Brazil's military regime. During his government, persecution and torture of dissidents, harassment against journalists and press censorship became ubiquitous. A 2014 report by Brazil's "National Truth Commission states that the United States of America was involved with teaching the Brazilian military regime torture techniques.[57]
U.S. Secretary of State "Henry Kissinger shaking hands with "Augusto Pinochet in 1976.
Date of support Country Regime Notes
1876–1911  "Mexico "Porfirio Díaz[58] During the "Porfiriato, tensions between the U.S. and "Mexico were high.
1929–2000  "Mexico "Institutional Revolutionary Party[59]
1898–1920  "Guatemala "Manuel Estrada Cabrera[60]
1931–1944  "Guatemala "Jorge Ubico[60]
1925–1933  "Cuba "Gerardo Machado[61]
1930–1945  "Brazil "Getulio Vargas[62] Brazil was an ally in "World War II
1948–1956  "Peru "Manuel Odria[63]
1932–1944  "El Salvador "Maximiliano Hernández Martínez[64]
1948–1949  "Costa Rica "José Figueres Ferrer[65][66] Figueres was a moderate anti-Communist leader, giving back the government to the civil authorities after 18 months of de facto rule.
1933–1949  "Honduras "Tiburcio Carías Andino[67]
1950–1956  "Haiti "Paul Magloire[68]
1953–1957  "Colombia "Rojas Pinilla[69]
1948–1958  "Venezuela "Marcos Pérez Jiménez[70]
1908–1935  "Venezuela "Juan Vicente Gómez[71]
1952–1959  "Cuba "Fulgencio Batista[72]
1930–1961  "Dominican Republic "Rafael Trujillo[73] Later overthrown with at least some aid from the CIA.[74]
1966–1978  "Dominican Republic "Joaquin Balaguer[75]
1966–1985  "Guyana "Forbes Burnham[76][77]
1954–1986  "Guatemala Successive Military Governments [78][79][80]
1978–1982  "Honduras "Policarpo Paz García[81][82]
1979–1982  "El Salvador "Revolutionary Government Junta of El Salvador[83]
1963–1967  "Ecuador "Junta del 63[84]
1964–1969  "Bolivia "Rene Barrientos[85][86] See also: "Ñancahuazú Guerrilla
1971–1978  "Bolivia "Hugo Banzer[87]
1973–1985  "Uruguay "Civic-military dictatorship of Uruguay[88][89]
1976–1983  "Argentina "National Reorganization Process[90][91]
1964–1985  "Brazil "Brazilian military dictatorship [92][57][93]
1936–1979  "Nicaragua "Somoza family[94]
1957–1971  "Haiti "François Duvalier[95]
1971–1986  "Haiti "Jean-Claude Duvalier[95]
1968–1981  "Panama "Omar Torrijos[96]
1983–1989  "Panama "Manuel Noriega[96] Later overthrown by U.S. in "Operation Just Cause in 1989.
1954–1989  "Paraguay "Alfredo Stroessner[97][98]
1973–1990  "Chile "Augusto Pinochet[99][100]
1990–2000  "Peru "Alberto Fujimori[101]
1948–1960  "South Korea[102] "Syngman Rhee
1958–1969  "Pakistan "Ayub Khan See also: "Pakistan–United States relations during the Cold War era.
1961–1979  "South Korea "Park Chung-hee[103]
1979–1988  "South Korea "Chun Doo-hwan[104]
1955–1963  "South Vietnam "Ngo Dinh Diem[105] Later assassinated in a "U.S.-backed coup. See also: "Cable 243, "Arrest and assassination of Ngo Dinh Diem.
1965–1975  "South Vietnam "Nguyen Van Thieu[106] "Vietnam War
1970–1975 "Cambodia "Khmer Republic "Lon Nol[107]
1969–1971  "Pakistan "Yahya Khan[108][109][110]
1953–1979  "Iran "Mohammad Reza Pahlavi[111][112] See also: "1953 Iranian coup d'état.
1965–1986  "Philippines "Ferdinand Marcos[113][114]
1978–1988  "Pakistan "Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq[115]
1963–1968  "Iraq Ali Salih al-Sa'di, "Abdul Salam Arif, "Abdul Rahman Arif[116] See: "Ramadan Revolution
1982–1990  "Iraq "Saddam Hussein[117] Later seen as an enemy of the U.S. in the "Gulf War and deposed in the "Iraq War. See: "United States support for Iraq during the Iran–Iraq war.
1967–1998  "Indonesia "Suharto[118][119][120][121] See also: "Indonesian mass killings of 1965–1966, "Indonesian invasion of East Timor.
1949–1953  "Syria "al-Za'im-Shishkali-al-Hinnawi Junta[122][123][124] See: "Husni al-Za'im, "Adib Shishakli, "Sami al-Hinnawi.
1999–2008  "Pakistan "Pervez Musharraf[125]
1990–2016  "Uzbekistan "Islam Karimov[28]
1990–2005  "Kyrgyzstan "Askar Akayev[126]
1992–2003  "Georgia "Eduard Shevardnadze.[127]
1978–2012  "North Yemen
"Ali Abdullah Saleh[128]
1971–1985  "Sudan "Gaafar Nimeiry[129]
1978–1991  "Somalia "Siad Barre[130]
1930–1974  "Ethiopia "Haile Selassie[131]
1964–1994  "Malawi "Kamuzu Banda[132]
1978–2002  "Kenya "Daniel Arap Moi[133]
1987–2014  "Burkina Faso "Blaise Compaoré[134]
1944–1971  "Liberia "William Tubman[135]
1980–1990  "Liberia "Samuel Doe[136]
1965–1997 "Democratic Republic of the Congo "Democratic Republic of the Congo
"Mobutu Sese Seko[137][138]
1982–1990  "Chad "Hissène Habré[139]
1951–1969  "Libya "Idris of Libya[140]
1973–1981  "Egypt "Anwar Sadat[141]
1981–2011  "Egypt "Hosni Mubarak[142]
1948–1994  "South Africa "Apartheid[143][144]
1987–2011  "Tunisia "Zine El Abidine Ben Ali[145]
1953–1975  "Spain "Francisco Franco[146][147]
1941–1974  "Portugal "António de Oliveira Salazar[148] See "Estado Novo (Portugal)
1941–1945  "Soviet Union "Joseph Stalin[149] Later considered an enemy of the US. See "Cold War.
1948–1980  "Yugoslavia "Josip Broz Tito[150] See "Informbiro period.
1967–1974  "Greece "Greek military junta[151]
1980–1989  "Turkey "Turkish military junta[152]
1969–1989  "Romania "Nicolae Ceaușescu[153]
1979–1989  "People's Republic of China "Deng Xiaoping[154]
1941–1975  "Republic of China "Chiang Kai-shek[155]
1948–1957  "Thailand "Plaek Phibunsongkhram[156]
1963–1973  "Thailand "Thanom Kittikachorn[157]
1958–1963  "Thailand "Sarit Thanarat[158]
1987–1999  "Fiji "Sitiveni Rabuka[159]
2011–2014  "South Sudan "Salva Kiir[160][161]


Years of support of authoritarian regimes by the United States.

See also[edit]


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  2. ^ MacMichael, David (2007). Brazil: Generals' Coup in Encyclopedia of Conflicts since World War II. Armonk, NJ: Sharpe. pp. 358–363. 
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  6. ^ a b Grandin & Joseph, Greg & Gilbert (2010). A Century of Revolution. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. pp. 397–414. 
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Further reading[edit]

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