General Question

stanleybmanly's avatar

In view of current events, what are the lessons to be learned about toppling brutal dictators?

Asked by stanleybmanly (16145points) July 30th, 2014

There is no longer any point in debating whether or not the invasion of Iraq was a mistake.

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7 Answers

Bill1939's avatar

We have only wanted to overthrow a dictator if he threatened to interfere with American corporate profits. Even democratically elected leaders who attempted to mitigate the exploitation of their countries’ resources are targeted for removal from office. The United States has a long history of supporting any country that supports us regardless of their political structure. We have aided the overthrow of any country’s leaders that oppose our political agenda, often replacing them with a totalitarian dictator.

For example, after the CIA fomented the “28 Mordad coup” that overthrew the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran Mohammad Mosaddegh on August 19, 1953, they directed the installation of the Shah of Iran, Mohammad-Reza Shah Pahlavi, who effectively ruled the country as an absolute monarch until he was overthrown in February 1979 (see). For more examples one only has to look at the CIA’s involvement in Latin America.

thorninmud's avatar

I think we’re learning that not every culture shares our distaste for authoritarianism. The idea that every human longs to be lightly governed is such an engrained part of our national narrative that we’ve come to assume that removing strongmen from power is our favor to the world. But we see this drama playing out time and again: the “liberated” people become nostalgic for the stability, lack of ambiguity and quasi-religious cult of personality that they enjoyed under the strongmen.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I think most people realize now that in some parts of the world a dictator who rules by force keeps an unstable society at bay. Not any place I’d like to be. Personally I’ll take unstable over a dictatorship.

filmfann's avatar

It’s the same lesson we have failed to learn many times.

“Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.”

SavoirFaire's avatar

Following up on @thorninmud‘s point, we need to recognize the contradiction inherent in imposing democracy on others. If people don’t want a democracy, then the democratic thing for them to do is not have one. This is why it is a form of government that must be taken rather than given. This isn’t to say that the taking must always be violent. Canada waited until 1982 and then asked politely to be independent England. But democracy must be chosen. Otherwise, the people will democratically choose to revert to the old government they preferred.

rojo's avatar

@thorninmud Sadly, if past experience and present policy is to be believed, I do not believe the US government is learning anything of the sort.

flutherother's avatar

You can’t transition from dictatorshop to democracy overnight. Democracy is more than just giving people a vote; it requires democratic institutions, a free press and a basic trust in one another. These things take time to develop.

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