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List of authoritarian regimes supported by the United States

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump with Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt and King Salman of Saudi Arabia, in May 2017, around the same time as the 2017 United States–Saudi Arabia arms deal, the largest arms deal in US history, was being finalized.[1]
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[2] 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.[3] 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).[4][5][6] 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.[7] 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.[8][7] 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.[8][9]

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.[10] 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.[11][12] 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.[13]


Authoritarian regimes currently supportedEdit

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama with Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow of Turkmenistan, September 2009, one of the most repressive regimes in the world,[14] supported with millions of dollars in military aid.[15]
Date of support Country Regime Notes
1991–present   Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev; Ilham Aliyev[16][17]
1971–present   Bahrain House of Khalifa[18] [19]
1984–present   Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah[20][21][22][23]
1998–present   Cambodia Hun Sen[24]
1982–present   Cameroon Paul Biya[25][26]
1990–present   Chad Idriss Déby[27]
1999–present   Djibouti Ismaïl Omar Guelleh[28][29]
2014–present   Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi[30]
1979–present   Equatorial Guinea Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo[31]
1991–present   Ethiopia Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front[31]
1967–present   Gabon Ali Bongo Ondimba;Omar Bongo[32]
1954–present   Jordan Hashemite Dynasty[33][34]
1992–present   Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev[35][36]
1961–present   Kuwait Kuwaiti Royal Family[37][38]
2009-present   Mauritania Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz[39]
1956–present   Morocco Alaouite dynasty[40]
1970–present   Oman Qaboos bin Said al Said[41]
1972–present   Qatar House of Thani[42][43]
2000–present   Rwanda Paul Kagame[44]
1945–present   Saudi Arabia House of Saud[45][46][41]
1959–present   Singapore People's Action Party[47][48]
1986–present   Swaziland Mswati III[49][50][51]
1994–present   Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon[31]
2014–present   Thailand Prayut Chan-o-cha[52]
2010–present[53]   Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan[54][55][56]
2006–present   Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow[31]
1986–present   Uganda Yoweri Museveni[57]
1971–present   United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates[58]
2016–present   Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev[59]
2011–present   Vietnam Trương Tấn Sang[31]
2012–present   Yemen Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi[60]

Authoritarian regimes supported in the pastEdit

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.[61]
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[62] During the Porfiriato, tensions between the U.S. and Mexico were high.
1929–2000   Mexico Institutional Revolutionary Party[63]
1898–1920   Guatemala Manuel Estrada Cabrera[64]
1931–1944   Guatemala Jorge Ubico[64]
1925–1933   Cuba Gerardo Machado[65]
1930–1945   Brazil Getulio Vargas[66] Brazil was an ally in World War II
1948–1956   Peru Manuel Odria[67]
1932–1944   El Salvador Maximiliano Hernández Martínez[68]
1948–1949   Costa Rica José Figueres Ferrer[69][70] 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[71]
1950–1956   Haiti Paul Magloire[72]
1953–1957   Colombia Rojas Pinilla[73]
1948–1958   Venezuela Marcos Pérez Jiménez[74]
1908–1935   Venezuela Juan Vicente Gómez[75]
1952–1959   Cuba Fulgencio Batista[76]
1930–1961   Dominican Republic Rafael Trujillo[77] Later overthrown with at least some aid from the CIA.[78]
1966–1978   Dominican Republic Joaquin Balaguer[79]
1966–1985   Guyana Forbes Burnham[80][81]
1954–1986   Guatemala Successive Military Governments [82][83][84]
1978–1982   Honduras Policarpo Paz García[85][86]
1979–1982   El Salvador Revolutionary Government Junta of El Salvador[87]
1963–1967   Ecuador Junta del 63[88]
1964–1969   Bolivia Rene Barrientos[89][90] See also: Ñancahuazú Guerrilla
1971–1978   Bolivia Hugo Banzer[91]
1973–1985   Uruguay Civic-military dictatorship of Uruguay[92][93]
1976–1983   Argentina National Reorganization Process[94][95]
1964–1985   Brazil Brazilian military dictatorship [96][61][97]
1936–1979   Nicaragua Somoza family[98]
1957–1971   Haiti François Duvalier[99]
1971–1986   Haiti Jean-Claude Duvalier[99]
1968–1981   Panama Omar Torrijos[100]
1983–1989   Panama Manuel Noriega[100] Later overthrown by U.S. in Operation Just Cause in 1989.
1954–1989   Paraguay Alfredo Stroessner[101][102]
1973–1990   Chile Augusto Pinochet[103][104]
1990–2000   Peru Alberto Fujimori[105]
1948–1960   South Korea[106] 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[107]
1979–1988   South Korea Chun Doo-hwan[108]
1955–1963   South Vietnam Ngo Dinh Diem[109] 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[110] Vietnam War
1970–1975   Khmer Republic Lon Nol[111]
1969–1971   Pakistan Yahya Khan[112][113][114]
1953–1979   Iran Mohammad Reza Pahlavi[115][116] See also: 1953 Iranian coup d'état.
1965–1986   Philippines Ferdinand Marcos[117][118]
1978–1988   Pakistan Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq[119]
1963–1968   Iraq Ali Salih al-Sa'di, Abdul Salam Arif, Abdul Rahman Arif[120] See: Ramadan Revolution
1982–1990   Iraq Saddam Hussein[121] 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[122][123][124][125] See also: Indonesian mass killings of 1965–1966, Indonesian invasion of East Timor.
1949–1953   Syria al-Za'im-Shishkali-al-Hinnawi Junta[126][127][128] See: Husni al-Za'im, Adib Shishakli, Sami al-Hinnawi.
1999–2008   Pakistan Pervez Musharraf[129]
1990–2016   Uzbekistan Islam Karimov[31]
1990–2005   Kyrgyzstan Askar Akayev[130]
1992–2003   Georgia Eduard Shevardnadze.[131]
1978–2012   North Yemen
Ali Abdullah Saleh[132]
1971–1985   Sudan Gaafar Nimeiry[133]
1978–1991   Somalia Siad Barre[134]
1930–1974   Ethiopia Haile Selassie[135]
1966–1969   Ghana National Liberation Council[136]
1964–1994   Malawi Kamuzu Banda[137]
1964–1978   Kenya Jomo Kenyatta
1978–2002   Kenya Daniel Arap Moi[138]
1987–2014   Burkina Faso Blaise Compaoré[139]
1944–1971   Liberia William Tubman[140]
1980–1990   Liberia Samuel Doe[141]
1965–1997   Democratic Republic of the Congo
Mobutu Sese Seko[142][143]
1982–1990   Chad Hissène Habré[144]
1951–1969   Libya Idris of Libya[145]
1973–1981   Egypt Anwar Sadat[146]
1981–2011   Egypt Hosni Mubarak[147]
1948–1994   South Africa Apartheid[148][149]
1974–1987   Niger Seyni Kountche[150]
1987–2011   Tunisia Zine El Abidine Ben Ali[151]
1962–1985   Tanganyika
Julius Nyerere
1953–1975   Spain Francisco Franco[152][153]
1941–1974   Portugal António de Oliveira Salazar[154] See Estado Novo (Portugal)
1941–1945   Soviet Union Joseph Stalin[155] Later considered an enemy of the US. See Cold War.
1948–1980   Yugoslavia Josip Broz Tito[156] See Informbiro period.
1967–1974   Greece Greek military junta[157]
1980–1989   Turkey Turkish military junta[158]
1969–1989   Romania Nicolae Ceaușescu[159]
1979–1989   People's Republic of China Deng Xiaoping[160]
1941–1975   Republic of China Chiang Kai-shek[161]
1948–1957   Thailand Plaek Phibunsongkhram[162]
1963–1973   Thailand Thanom Kittikachorn[163]
1958–1963   Thailand Sarit Thanarat[164]
1987–1999   Fiji Sitiveni Rabuka[165]
2011–2014   South Sudan Salva Kiir[166][167]


Years of support of authoritarian regimes by the United States.

See alsoEdit


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Further readingEdit