Putin and Assad Alexei Druzhinin/ZumaPress

La tentation despotique

MADRID – Autrefois interrogé sur le soutien de l’Amérique au dictateur nicaraguayen Anastasio Somoza, le président Franklin D. Roosevelt aurait dit-t-on répondu : « Somoza est peut-être un salopard, mais c'est notre salopard. » Qu'il soit authentique ou non, ce trait d'esprit résume l'approche adoptée depuis bien longtemps par l'Occident dans une grande partie du monde – et qui a sous-tendu la politique étrangère américaine tout au long de la guerre froide.

Mais plus récemment, une approche encore plus troublante semble avoir émergé, consistant pour les dirigeants occidentaux à se contenter non pas de leur « propre salopard », mais tout simplement de n'importe quel salopard en mesure d'imposer une stabilité, quel qu'en soit le prix. Or, bien que tentante, cette démarche n'en demeure pas moins risquée.

On se serait attendu à ce que l'expérience oriente les dirigeants occidentaux vers une direction opposée. Après tout, les années passant, le clientélisme ouvertement pragmatique et caractéristique de la guerre froide s'est révélé loin d'être idéal. En effet, dans bien des situations – Shah d'Iran, Lon Nol au Cambodge, Augusto Pinochet au Chili, ou encore Mobutu Sese Seko en République démocratique du Congo, pour ne citer que quelques exemples – ce choix n'a engendré à long terme qu'insécurité et désordre.

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