Putin and Assad Alexei Druzhinin/ZumaPress

The Despotic Temptation

Unable to contain the chaos and violence engulfing the Middle East and North Africa, Western leaders are once again succumbing to the idea that sometimes the only way to ensure stability is to support a dictator. But tyranny is never genuinely stable, and certainly not in the long term.

MADRID – US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, when asked about American support for the notorious Nicaraguan despot Anastasio Somoza, purportedly replied, “He may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch.” Whether or not the quip is apocryphal, it sums up a longstanding Western approach to much of the world – and one that underpinned US foreign policy throughout the Cold War.