The convenience of obedient dictatorships

2011-03-09 Wednesday
On my Swedish page Dagsnoteringar today I refer to a talk by Noam Chomsky, where he in the Q&A session touched upon the dictatorship in Egypt. The talk was given in 2010, i.e. long before the now ongoing uprising started, and he commented a press conference held by Barack Obama before the president’s travel to Egypt in 2009. Obama was asked whether he would raise any questions about the authoritarian regime in Egypt with his host, Mubarak. (Chomsky commented that the word “authoritarian” was more of a compliment to one of the most brutal dictatorships in the Arab world.)

According to Chomsky the president answered: “I don’t like to use labels for folks, so I will not call him authoritarian. In fact he is a force for stability and for good”. You may remember a similar comment (2011-02-26) by our foreign minister Carl Bildt, this time about Gaddafi of Libya. The guys from the smaller countries learn from the bigger chiefs!

One question Chomsky thinks that we should ask ourselves is how we might expect the Arab world to take seriously our harsh demands on (for instance) Iranian leaders to respect human rights, at the same time we treat much more horrible dictatorships with kid gloves. Of course he doesn’t find the very fact especially strange. Useful and obedient dictatorships are frequently well treated by western countries. But the blatant hypocrisy is nonetheless a disgrace for civilized and thinking people.

 

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