Throughout history dictators have served as proxies for western governments to subdue foreign adversaries, provide military installations, and supposedly help fight the global war on terror. Dictators have also been a prominent fixture on the international trade circuit by providing other nations with cheap goods and natural resources. All of these services have accumulated into a nexus of ramifications that has contributed to a wave of human rights abuses, millions of deaths, and failed foreign policy.
The United States still considers dictators like
- Ilham Aliyev/Azerbaijan: Prosecutes government critics and arrests political activists. Independent media outlets face harassment and journalists are threatened to stay silent. Freedom of association is highly restricted. Political opponents are routinely tortured.
- Nursultan Nazarbayev/Kazakhstan: The freedom of assembly is restricted. Political activists are prosecuted. Journalists and media outlets are harassed and prosecuted on excessive charges. The use of torture is common practice. The freedom of religion is tightly controlled.
- Hailemariam Desalegn/Ethiopia: Government security forces routinely crackdown on peaceful protesters, shooting and killing unarmed civilians. The media is under government control, websites and social media networks are restricted and blocked. Journalists are jailed, opponents and critics of the government are arrested and tortured. All forms of free expression, assembly, and association are highly restricted.
- Haji Waddaulah/Brunei: Enforces a strict Islamic sharia law penal code that discriminates against women, incorporates corporal punishment(whippings and amputations) and the death penalty for minor offences. Free expression and the freedom of religion are highly restricted if they go against Islam.
- Nguyen Phu Trong/Vietnam: Restricts freedom of speech, opinion, association, and assembly. Political activists face violence and prosecution. Independent political parties and human rights organizations are banned. Freedom of religion is severely restricted and controlled. Bloggers and activists face constant harassment, intimidation, and arbitrary arrest.
- Prayut Chan-o-cha/Thailand: Widespread censorship and restrictions on free expression. The authorities arrest politicians, activists, and journalists for being critical of the government and its policies. Citizens face arbitrary detention, torture, violence, and forced disappearances. Human rights activists have been killed for reporting violations.
- Emomali Rahmon/Tajikistan: Critics of the government are harassed and imprisoned. Freedom of expression is restricted. Websites are blocked and news outlets have been shut down. Opposition parties are banned and members held in detention are tortured.
- Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow/Turkmenistan: The government controls all aspects of public life and ruthlessly suppresses and punishes any alternative political or religious expression. There’s no media freedom, the government controls all access to the country’s information. Political activists are jailed, tortured, and forcibly disappeared.
- Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud/Saudi Arabia: Restricts the freedom of religion, speech, association, and assembly. Human rights activists are prosecuted for being critical of the government. Enforces strict Islamic sharia law penal codes that includes public floggings and executions for minor crimes. Discriminatory towards women’s rights. Migrant workers are exploited and abused. Supports and finances terrorist organizations.
- Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa/Bahrain: Restricts the freedom of expression, assembly, and association. Detains and tortures human rights activists. The government can revoke an individuals citizenship for being a human rights defender, political activist, or a journalist that makes critical statements about the government. Individuals are banned from leaving the country for being critical of the government. Women are discriminated against.
- Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani/Qatar: Migrant workers face exploitation and abuse. Freedom of expression is restricted. Discriminatory towards women’s rights. Sponsors and finances terrorist organizations.
- Qaboos bin Said Al-Said/Oman: Restricts the freedom of speech, association, and assembly. Journalists, bloggers, and political activists are prosecuted. Women face discrimination. Migrant workers are exploited and abused.
- Abdullah II bin Al Hussein/Jordan: Restricts the freedom of speech, assembly, and association. Women’s and girls rights remain discriminatory. The use of torture, unfair trials, and detention are levied against ordinary citizens and political activists.
- Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan/United Arab Emirates: Restricts the freedom of expression. Engages in forced disappearances, arbitrary arrests, and torture of political activists. Uses surveillance on political dissidents. Mistreats detainees and abuses migrant workers. Discriminatory towards women’s rights.
- Ismail Omar Guelleh/Djibouti: The government represses and harasses human rights activists, journalists, and opposition leaders. Political opponents are arrested. The freedom of expression, assembly, and association are highly restricted.
- Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo/Equatorial Guinea: Government responsible for cases of extreme poverty and childhood malnutrition. The freedom of expression, association, and assembly are highly restricted. Political activists are intimidated and harassed. High levels of government corruption and rigged elections. Political opposition arrested. The government is involved in the use of torture, arbitrary arrests, and forced disappearances.
- Paul Biya/Cameroon: Restricts the freedom of expression, association, and assembly. Journalists, political activists, and opposition party members are targeted and harassed. Arbitrary arrests and the use of torture are widespread.
- Idriss Deby/Chad: Restricts the freedom of expression, assembly, and association. Human rights activists and journalists are threatened and intimidated. The government censors the media and bans all public demonstrations. Arbitrary arrests, detentions, enforced disappearances, and torture are widespread.
- Yoweri Kaguta Museveni/Uganda: The freedom of speech, association, and assembly are highly restricted. Political opponents and critics of the government are detained and treated to excessive force by the authorities. The government blocks certain media outlets and social media networks. Journalists are beaten and arrested. The government is accused of committing extrajudicial killings on civilians.
- Paul Kagame/Rwanda: Suppresses the freedom of expression. Limits the ability of the media and human rights groups to operate freely and criticize the government. The military and police routinely arrest and detain individuals critical of the government. Widespread use of torture against political opponents. The government creates a climate of fear and retaliation for criticism among society to where citizens practice self censorship with their thoughts and opinions.
- Abdelaziz Bouteflika/Algeria: Restricts free speech, the right to assemble, protest, and associate. Arbitrary arrests and prosecutes political activists. Individuals accused of unlawful killings, torture, and forced disappearances receive impunity.
- Pierre Nkurunziza/Burundi: Opponents of the government are targeted, killed, raped, tortured, and forcibly disappeared. Human rights organizations are banned. The government manipulates the constitution and the judicial system.
- Joseph Kabila/Democratic Republic of Congo: Freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are banned by the government. Armed groups and government security forces routinely attack civilians and conduct large scale atrocities involving killings, rape, pillage, and forced recruitment of children. The government shuts down media outlets and arrests political opponents.
- Ali Bongo Ondimba/Gabon: Free speech and the press are restricted. The government is involved in the use of torture and arbitrary arrests. Opposition members are routinely threatened and protesters are attacked by the government. Security forces are involved in unlawful killings.
- Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz/Mauritania: Human rights activists face politically motivated prosecutions. Freedom of expression, assembly, and association are restricted. The use of torture and ill treatment are common while in custody and the practice of slavery continues.
- Denis Sassou Nguesso/Congo: Freedoms of expression and assembly are met with violence and the arresting of opposition figures. The government conducts air strikes on residential areas. Presidential security forces use torture and ill treatment against opposition members.
- Omar Al-Bashir/Sudan: Government forces kill, attack, rape civilians, loot, and destroy property. Thousands of people are displaced and forced to flee their homes. Political activists are arbitrary detained and subjected to torture. The government censors the media, threatens journalists and blocks all forms of free expression, assembly, and association. The government uses chemical weapons on civilians.
- King Mswati III/Swaziland: Bans all political parties. Political activists and critics of the government can be charged with treason. The freedom of expression to criticize the government is criminalized as a seditious act. Media criticism about the government is banned. Violence against women is widespread.
- Xi Jinping/China: All freedoms of expression, assembly, association, and religion are severely restricted. The government controls and monitors the media. Human right activists are routinely persecuted, arrested, and tortured.
- Bounnhang Vorachith/Laos: Forcibly disappears civil society members. The freedom of expression, association, and peaceful protest are severely restricted. The government controls the media. Human rights activists are constantly persecuted.
- Hun Sen/Cambodia: The government launches continuous attacks against the political opposition, activists, and human rights organizations. Widespread enforcement of arbitrary arrests and detentions. Government critics are shot dead. Peaceful assembly is restricted.
- Recep Tayyip Erdogan/Turkey: Restricts the freedom of expression, association, and assembly. Journalists are detained for being critical of the government. The government blocks websites, shuts down newspapers, removes television stations, and censors social media accounts. Widespread use of torture on detainees.
- Nicolas Maduro/Venezuela: Prosecutes political opponents. Initiates violent crackdowns on protesters. Engages in arbitrary arrests, extrajudicial killings, and torture. Restricts the freedom of expression. Targets and harasses opposition media outlets and human rights activists. The government controls the price of food and manipulates the constitution and judicial system.
- Abdel Fattah el-Sisi/Egypt: Government security forces arrest and detain all political dissent. Freedom of expression, assembly, and association are cracked down on or outright banned. The government uses the terms of fighting terrorism to also target human rights defenders and journalists critical of the authorities. Women and girls face violence and discrimination. Christians are discriminated against for security reasons. Extrajudicial executions through unfair trails, enforced disappearances, and torture are widespread. Individuals are arrested and prosecuted based on their sexual orientation.
- Mohammed VI/Morocco: Freedom of expression, assembly, and association are stifled by the government. Peaceful protesters are dispersed and human rights defenders, activists, and journalists face arrest and detainment for criticizing the authorities. Torture and ill-treatment are used to obtain false confessions in the absence of a lawyer. Women and girls continue to be discriminated against despite rights laws.
to be very important allies that contribute to national security and trade while ignoring the numerous human rights abuses they are all guilty of. These dictators are problematic to the United States because they do not adhere to the same concept of freedom and liberty for their citizens as the U.S. does which causes ongoing riffs of disenfranchisement and resentment towards the regime that often leads to regional instability in the form of terrorist groups and criminal networks. These so called U.S. allies are all guilty of suppressing free speech, controlling the media, and detaining any political opposition that would criticize or challenge their rule which runs contrary to American values. Let’s take a look at how some of our U.S. allies behave on the world stage.
Contrary to what the media says, its hard to acknowledge Saudi Arabia as an important ally in the war on global terrorism when in fact they are the one’s that fund, sponsor, and support a host of international terrorist organizations throughout the world including the Taliban and the Islamic State. Saudi Arabia also sent their troops into Bahrain to crush the 2011 pro democracy protests. American citizens can actually sue the Saudi government for their role in the 911 terrorist attacks while the majority of the terrorists involved in 911 were from Saudi Arabia.
Qatar, another U.S. ally supports and provides sanctuary to ISIS, The Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, and the Taliban while having close ties with Iran. Qatar sponsors Al Qaeda and the Al Nusra Front in Syria, and Islamist groups in Libya. Qatar also paid 3 million to the Muslim Brotherhood, 400 million to Hamas, and 250,000 to Al-Shabab in Somalia. Oman also has diplomatic relations with Iran and the U.S. at the same time. U.S. ally United Arab Emirates recognized the Taliban as Afghanistan’s legitimate government and also had diplomatic relations with the group.
Saudi Arabia and the rest of the gulf states have no interest in fighting the war on terror because the Islamic ideology they all espouse to is sympathetic to the Islamic State and Al Qaeda’s cause of downplaying western values. The gulf monarchies often play the west into thinking that they will help fight terrorism, but in fact their only intention is to maintain power and in order to do that they must try to convince the west that they will haphazardly combat terrorism so they can receive weapons to suppress their citizens and oil deals that will secure funds for continuing to support terrorist organizations.
Allying with dictators can also backfire on those who support them as resentment towards their rule often leads to the overthrow of the regime that often ushers in new leadership that is far worse than what was already in place. Case in point was the Shah of Iran who was backed by the United States and eventually overthrown by a radical Islamic theocracy that is in the process of developing a nuclear weapon and funds terrorism while constantly shouting death to America. Another example is Fulgencio Batista dictator of Cuba and strong ally of the United States. Batista was ousted by Fidel Castro who was a devout communist that allied himself with the Soviet Union and caused the Cuban Missile Crisis that almost came close to invoking a nuclear war with the United States.
Conducting trade with dictators just empowers the regime by giving them a legitimate claim to exist and grow stronger while the rest of the population struggles to survive through poor labor practices. In China, the Foxconn plant which makes Apple products had to install safely nets in the stairwells so no more workers would be able to jump to their death due to horrific working conditions. Many American workers have lost their jobs because U.S. companies continue to outsource their business to foreign countries that have abysmal human rights records.
Using dictators to undermine international adversaries usually costs more in human lives than it does to financially prop up the regime. During the Cold War, the United States backed several dictators that killed thousands of people all in the name of fighting the spread of communism which eventually fell under the weight of its own failed economical structure. It’s not a surprise as to why the citizens living under dictatorial rule have resentment towards the United States. Could it be that we are constantly propping up dictators who kill, torture, imprison, and steal from their citizens?
As Americans, we should set the standard for international freedom while encouraging other nations to embrace it as well for reasons of prosperity and peace. We should also conduct business only with democratic countries and cut all relations with dictatorships. If all nations operated under a democratic system and respected human rights then there would be no need for conflict. Every war or major conflict the United States has ever been involved in evolved from a dictatorship (WWII, Vietnam War, Cold War, Iraq War, Panama, Serbia, Syria). In order to achieve peace you first have to dispose of the dictator and ally yourself with freedom instead of tyranny.