List of authoritarian regimes supported by the United States

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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 US President Lyndon B. Johnson at his side)

Over the last century, the United States government has often provided, and continues to provide today, 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.[1]

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 also began to support authoritarian regimes that it felt were combating movements aligned with communism, including socialist and democratic socialist movements, especially in Latin America.[2][3] Such assistance continued despite the belief expressed by many that this contradicted the political ideals espoused by the US during the Cold War.[4] Support was also geared toward ensuring a conducive environment for American corporate interests abroad, such as the United Fruit Company or Standard Oil, especially when these interests came under threat from democratic governments.[1][4][5] Support for authoritarian regimes has been justified under various ideological frameworks as well, including the Truman Doctrine, the Kirkpatrick Doctrine and the "War on Drugs".[1]

From the 1980s onwards, 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.[6] In recent years, many policy analysts and commentators have expressed support for this type of policy, with some believing that regional stability is more important than democracy.[7][8] 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.[9]

Authoritarian regimes supported[edit]

Current president Barack Obama and Michelle Obama with Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow of Turkmenistan, September 2009, one of the most repressive regimes in the world,[10] supported with millions of dollars in military aid.[11]
Middle East special envoy Donald Rumsfeld meeting Saddam Hussein on 19–20 December 1983.
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.[12]
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[13] During the Porfiriato, tensions between the U.S. and Mexico were high.
1929–2000 Mexico Institutional Revolutionary Party[14]
1932–1944 El Salvador Maximiliano Hernández Martínez[15]
1933–1949 Honduras Tiburcio Carías Andino[16]
1950–1958 Venezuela Marcos Pérez Jiménez[17]
1908–1935 Venezuela Juan Vicente Gómez[18]
1898–1920 Guatemala Manuel Estrada Cabrera[19]
1931–1944 Guatemala Jorge Ubico[19]
1952–1959 Cuba Fulgencio Batista[20]
1930–1961 Dominican Republic Rafael Trujillo[21] Later overthrown with at least some aid from the CIA.[22]
1954–1986 Guatemala Efraín Ríos Montt Junta[23][24] See also: 1954 Guatemalan coup d'état.
1979–1982 El Salvador Revolutionary Government Junta of El Salvador[25]
1971–1978 Bolivia Hugo Banzer[26]
1973–1985 Uruguay Civic-military dictatorship of Uruguay[27]
1976–1983 Argentina National Reorganization Process[28]
1964–1985 Brazil Brazilian military government[12][29]
1936–1979 Nicaragua Somoza family[30]
1957–1971 Haiti François Duvalier[31]
1971–1986 Haiti Jean-Claude Duvalier[31]
1968–1981 Panama Omar Torrijos[32]
1983–1989 Panama Manuel Noriega[32] Later overthrown by U.S. in Operation Just Cause in 1989.
1954–1989 Paraguay Alfredo Stroessner[33]
1973–1990 Chile Augusto Pinochet[34]
1948–1960 South Korea[35] Syngman Rhee
1958–1969 Pakistan Ayub Khan See also: Pakistan–United States relations during the Cold War era.
1991–present Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev
Ilham Aliyev[36][37]
1991–present Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev[38][39]
1961–1979 South Korea Park Chung-hee[40]
1979–1988 South Korea Chun Doo-hwan[41]
1955–1963 South Vietnam Ngo Dinh Diem[42] Later assassinated in a U.S.-backed coup. See also: Cable 243, Arrest and assassination of Ngo Dinh Diem.
1970–1975 Cambodia Lon Nol[43]
1969–1971 Pakistan Yahya Khan[44][45]
1941–1979 Iran Mohammad Reza Pahlavi[46][47] See also: 1953 Iranian coup d'état.
1965–1986 Philippines Ferdinand Marcos[48][49]
1978–1988 Pakistan Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq[50]
1982–1990 Iraq Saddam Hussein[50] 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[51][52] See also: Allen Lawrence Pope.
1959–present Singapore People's Action Party [53][53][54]
1984–present Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah[55][56][57][58]
2011–present Vietnam Trương Tấn Sang[59]
2014–present Thailand Prayut Chan-o-cha[60]
1949–1953 Syria al-Za'im-Shishkali-al-Hinnawi Junta[61][62][63] See: Husni al-Za'im, Adib Shishakli, Sami al-Hinnawi.
1990–present Uzbekistan Islam Karimov[59]
1999–2008 Pakistan Pervez Musharraf[64]
1990–2012 Yemen Ali Abdullah Saleh[65]
1994–present Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon[59]
2006–present Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow[59]
1945–present Saudi Arabia House of Saud[66][67][68]
1999–present Bahrain Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa[69]
1995–2013 Qatar Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani[70]
1970–present Oman Qaboos bin Said al Said[68]
1954–present Jordan Hashemite Dynasty[71][72]
1994–present United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates[73]
1777–present Morocco Alaouite dynasty[74]
1969–1985 Sudan Gaafar Nimeiry[75]
1980–1990 Liberia Samuel Doe[76]
1991–2012 Ethiopia Meles Zenawi[59]
1979–present Equatorial Guinea Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo[59]
1965–1997 Zaire, Democratic Republic of the Congo Mobutu Sese Seko[77][78]
1982–1990 Chad Hissène Habré[79]
1981–2011 Egypt Hosni Mubarak[80]
2012–2013 Egypt Mohamed Morsi[81]
1948-1994 South Africa National Party
1990–present Chad Idriss Déby[82]
1986–present Uganda Yoweri Museveni[83]
1987–2011 Tunisia Zine El Abidine Ben Ali[84]
2000–present Rwanda Paul Kagame[85]
1936–1975 Spain Francisco Franco[86] At times opposed diplomatically because of fascist leanings. See: Francoist Spain.
1933–1974 Portugal António de Oliveira Salazar[87]
1941–1945 Soviet Union Joseph Stalin[88] Later considered an enemy of the US. See Cold War.
1967–1974 Greece Greek military junta[89]
1980–1989 Turkey Turkish military junta[90]
1969–1989 Romania Nicolae Ceaușescu[91]
1941–1975 Republic of China Chiang Kai-Shek[92]
1948–1957 Thailand Plaek Phibunsongkhram[93]
1963–1973 Thailand Thanom Kittikachorn[94]

See also[edit]


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  2. ^ Adams, Francis (2003). Deepening democracy: global governance and political reform in Latin America. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 31. ISBN 9780275979713. 
  3. ^ McMahon, Robert J. (1999). The limits of empire: the United States and Southeast Asia since World War II. Columbia University Press. p. 205. ISBN 9780231108805. 
  4. ^ a b Grandin & Joseph, Greg & Gilbert (2010). A Century of Revolution. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. pp. 397–414. 
  5. ^ Chomsky, Noam (1985). Turning the Tide. Boston, Massachusetts: South End Press. 
  6. ^ Forrest, James J.F. (2007). Countering terrorism and insurgency in the 21st century: international perspectives, Volume 2. ABC-CLIO. pp. 68–69. ISBN 9780275990367. 
  7. ^ Etzioni, Amitai (2007). Security first: for a muscular, moral foreign policy. Yale University Press. p. 50. ISBN 9780300108576. 
  8. ^ Beyer, Cornelia (2008). Violent globalisms: conflict in response to empire. Ashgate Publishing. p. 62. ISBN 9780754672050. 
  9. ^ Skidmore, David (1997). Contested social orders and international politics. Vanderbilt University Press. p. 210. ISBN 9780826512840. 
  10. ^ "Turkmenistan - World Report 2014". Human Rights Watch. 
  11. ^ Turkmenistan: Recent Developments and US Interests. Jim Nichol. Congressional Research Service. August 17, 2012.
  12. ^ a b Adam Taylor (10 December 2014). Brazil’s torture report brings a president to tears. The Washington Post. Retrieved 12 December 2014.
    • "Notably, the report found that the United States had spent years teaching the torture techniques to the Brazilian military during that period."
  13. ^ Herring, Hubert Clinton (1961). A History of Latin America from the Beginnings to the Present. Knopf. p. 339. Retrieved 10 August 2014. 
  14. ^ Joseph, Gilbert M. (2010). "Latin America's Long Cold War: A Century of Revolutionary Processes and U.S. Power". In Grandin, Greg. A Century of Revolution: Insurgent & Counterinsurgent violence during Latin America's long cold war. Durham & London: Duke University Press. pp. 403–404. ISBN 978-0-8223-4737-8. 
  15. ^ {Thank God They're on Our Side: The United States and Right-Wing Dictatorships, 1921-1965 1st Edition }
  16. ^ {{}}
  17. ^ [1]
  18. ^ Noam Chomsky. Hegemony or Survival. p. 64
  19. ^ a b Forster, Cindy (1994). "The Time of "Freedom": San Marcos Coffee Workers and the Radicalization of the Guatemalan National Revolution, 1944-1954". Radical History Review 58: 35–78. doi:10.1215/01636545-1994-58-35. 
  20. ^ Chase, Michelle (2010). Grandin, Greg; Joseph, Gilbert M., eds. The Trials. Duke University Press. pp. 164–198. 
  21. ^ Thomas M. Leonard (ed). Encyclopedia of the Developing World, Volume 3. p. 1572.
  22. ^ Blanton William (editor), ed. (8 May 1973), Memorandum for the Executive Secretary, CIA Management Committee. Subject: Potentially Embarrassing Agency Activities, George Washington University National Security Archives Electronic Briefing Book No. 222, "The CIA's Family Jewels" 
  23. ^ MCallister, Carlota (2010). Grandin, Greg; Joseph, Gilbert M., eds. A Headlong Rush Into the Future. Duke University Press. pp. 276–309. 
  24. ^ Ríos Montt Genocide Verdict Annulled, But Activists Ensure US-Backed Crimes Will Never Be Forgotten. Democracy Now! May 23, 2013.
  25. ^ Larsen, Neil (2010). "Thoughts on Violence and Modernity". In Grandin, Greg. A Century of Revolution: Insurgent & Counterinsurgent violence during Latin America's long cold war. Durham & London: Duke University Press. pp. 381, 391. ISBN 978-0-8223-4737-8. 
  26. ^ Hugo Banzer. The Guardian. 5 May 2002.
  27. ^ [2]
  28. ^ Feitlowitz, Marguerite (1998). A Lexicon of Terror. New York: Oxford University Press. 
  29. ^ Laurence Whitehead (ed). The International Dimensions of Democratization : Europe and the Americas. p. 148
  30. ^ Gould, Jeffrey (2010). Grandin, Greg; Joseph, Gilbert M., eds. On the Road to "El Porvenir". Duke University Press. pp. 87–120. 
  31. ^ a b Nicholls, David. "Haiti since 1930", in Leslie Bethell, Ed., The Cambridge History of Latin America. 1st ed. Vol. 7. Cambridge: 1990. 545-578.
  32. ^ a b R.M. Koster and Guillermo Sánchez, In the Time of Tyrants, Panama: 1968-1990. (NY and London: W.W. Norton and Company, 1990), Ch. 4.
  33. ^ Diana Jean Schemo (16 August 2006). Stroessner, Paraguay’s Enduring Dictator, Dies. The New York Times. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  34. ^ Winn, Peter (2010). Grandin, Greg; Joseph, Gilbert M., eds. Furies of the Andes. Duke University Press. pp. 239–272. 
  35. ^ Thomas M. Leonard (ed). Encyclopedia of the Developing World, Volume 3. p. 1365
  36. ^ "Azerbaijan". 
  37. ^ "Azerbaijan-US Relations". 
  38. ^ Bush and Kazakh Leader Play Up Partnership, The New York Times
  39. ^ "Kazakhstan". 
  40. ^ Pyŏng-guk Kim, Ezra F. Vogel (eds). The Park Chung Hee Era. p. 552
  41. ^ UK, BBC. "Flashback: The Kwangju massacre". BBC. Retrieved 22 April 2014P. 
  42. ^ Prados, John. "JFK and the Diem Coup". George Washington University. Retrieved 13 December 2013. 
  43. ^ David P. Chandler, A history of Cambodia, Westview Press; Allen & Unwin, Boulder, Sydney, 1992
  44. ^ John McLeod. The History of India.p. 152
  45. ^ Bass, Gary J. (2013). The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger, and a Forgotten Genocide. New York, NY: Knopf. ISBN 978-0-307-70020-9. 
  46. ^ Precht, Henry (1988). "Ayatollah Realpolitik". Foreign Policy (70): 109–128. 
  47. ^ CIA Admits To Iran 1953 Coup, But Revelations Unlikely To Thaw US-Tehran Relations. International Business Times. August 19, 2013.
  48. ^ "The Philippines: The Marcos Years". Retrieved 2014-08-10. 
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  50. ^ a b Exclusive: CIA Files Prove America Helped Saddam as He Gassed Iran. Foreign Policy. August 26, 2013.
  51. ^ Former Indonesian Dictator, US Ally & Mass Murderer, Suharto, 86, Dies. Democracy Now! 28 January 2008. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  52. ^ Kai Thaler (December 2, 2015). 50 years ago today, American diplomats endorsed mass killings in Indonesia. Here’s what that means for today. The Washington Post. Retrieved December 4, 2015.
  53. ^ a b "Singapore". 
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  55. ^ "Brunei". U.S. Department of State. 
  56. ^ "Southeast Asian Development". 
  57. ^ "Brunei". 
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  60. ^ Craig Whitlock (7 February 2015). "U.S. military to participate in major exercise in Thailand despite coup". Washington Post. 
  61. ^ The struggle for Syria The Syrian people are being sacrificed at the altar of US imperialism, says author.,
  62. ^ 1949-1958, Syria: Early Experiments in Cover Action, Douglas Little, Professor, Department of History, Clark University
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  65. ^ Kasinof, Laura; Sanger, David E. (3 April 2011). "U.S. Shifts to Seek Removal of Yemen’s Leader, an Ally". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 August 2014. 
  66. ^ Josh Rogin. "America's Allies Are Funding ISIS". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2014-08-10. 
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  71. ^ "U.S. Relations With Jordan". U.S. Department of State. 
  72. ^ Jordan: Background and U.S. Relations, Jeremy M. Sharp, March 2015
  73. ^ "Reliable Allies for 41 Years". 
  74. ^ In 1777 during the American Revolution, Morocco became the first nation to recognize the fledgling United States as an independent nation. The U.S. has had supportive relations with Morocco since. This included the U.S. providing weapons systems to Morocco during the Cold War and since. "Joint Statement by the United States of America and the Kingdom of Morocco". The White House, Office of the Press Secretary. November 22, 2013. Retrieved 2014-07-02. 
  75. ^ Large, Daniel (2011). Ryle, John, ed. The Sudan Handbook. Boydell & Brewer Ltd. p. 168. 
  76. ^ "Liberia". Human Rights Watch World Report 1990. Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 13 August 2014. 
  77. ^ Mobutu, Zairian Dictator for 32 Years, Dies in Exile. The Los Angeles Times. September 08, 1997
  78. ^ David F. Schmitz. The United States and Right-Wing Dictatorships, 1965-1989. p. 9
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  82. ^ Ketil Fred Hansen. "Chad’s relations with Libya, Sudan, France and the US / Publications / Africa / Regions / Home - NOREF". Retrieved 2014-08-10. 
  83. ^ Stephanie McCrummen (February 22, 2008). "U.S. Policy in Africa Faulted on Priorities: Security Is Stressed Over Democracy". Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-12-22. 
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  85. ^ Sundaram, Anjan. "The Darling Tyrant". POLITICO Magazine (March/April 2014). Retrieved 13 August 2014. 
  86. ^ Scott, Herb (October 3, 1970). "1.5 million cheer Nixon in Madrid". Stars and Stripes. 'We in the United States feel grateful to Spain and Spanish culture, which contributed so much to American life,' Nixon said in brief remarks interrupted by screaming jetliners moving into position at Madrid's Barajas Airport. 'Particularly in the past 10 years,' he continued, 'we have seen increased cooperation between the United States and Spain.' 
  87. ^ Raby, David L. (1988). Fascism and Resistance in Portugal: Communists, Liberals and Military Dissidents in the Opposition to Salazar, 1941–1974. p. 166. 
  88. ^ The Soviet Union received substantial support from the U.S.after Nazi Germany invaded in Operation Barbarossa in 1941 to the end of the war in 1943, per the version of the Wikipedia articles accessed 2015-04-18 (and many other sources).
  89. ^ Clinton concedes regret for U.S. support of Greek junta. The Topeka Capital-Journal. November 21, 1999.
  90. ^ Birand, Mehmet Ali. 12 Eylül, Saat: 04.00, 1984, pg. 1
  91. ^ "Ceausescu`s Romania Was Once A Pet Of U.s.". tribunedigital-chicagotribune. 
  92. ^ "The Chinese Revolution of 1949 - 1945–1952 - Milestones - Office of the Historian". 
  93. ^ Embracing the “enemy”: some aspects of the mutual relations between the United States and Thailand under field marshal Phibunsongkhram, 1948–1957
  94. ^ [3]

Further reading[edit]