Barack Obama And Dictators

Donald Trump has been accused of admiring dictators or cozying up to them by Hillary Clinton and her allies in the media.  Hillary Clinton put out a press release with a list of dictators that Donald Trump supposedly admires.  The media outlets all capitalized on her press release and proceeded to do a story based on that very press release.  I have done a response to that article below:

I thought I would do a post on Obama's relationship with dictators.  Some of these are "our" dictators meaning the dictators that we work with in order to accomplish our own national security interests, but the point is that Trump was attacked for cozying up to dictators and loving dictators when Obama has worked with dictators or refused to strongly pressure them to change because they work with us.  Here are a series of articles:

The article from Politico entitled "We Caved" is by far the best among the articles.  I tried to order these chronologically.

Why Obama Loves His Dictators

(Can't even excerpt because the whole thing is good.)

The Obamas LOVED the #BurkinaFaso Dictator

The Obamas had a longstanding and warm relationship with the African dictator Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso.
Compaoré has ruled the poverty stricken nation with an iron fist since 1987 but Obama feted him at the White House in August.
Riots broke out against the tyrant today and protestors stormed the parliament.

The New York Times reported on how Obama had given $5 billion to African dictators to build up their militaries.

“Repression by dictators like Idriss Déby in Chad or Blaise Compaoré in Burkina Faso has been tolerated because their governments have supplied combat troops for operations against jihadists in the Sahara,” The Times wrote in mid-August.

Obama’s troubling counterterrorism allies: dictators


Assad is the bloodiest butcher of this young century, but he’s hardly the only example of the United States’ reborn love of strongmen. Egypt’s new dictator has killed and imprisoned opponents with a brazenness Hosni Mubarak never dreamed of. The State Department is eager to embrace him in a new partnership.

Obama used to insist that the government of Bahrain “engage in a dialogue, and you can’t have a real dialogue when parts of the peaceful opposition are in jail.” Now, as Bahrain cracks down on peaceful dissidents, the United States barely notices.

In Central Asia’s Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov, 76, presides over a closed society of prison camps and forced labor. But immediately after he announced he would rule for five more years — after all, he’s been in charge only since 1989 — the United States approved a shipment of weaponry for his government and counseled “a certain amount of strategic patience in how change can take place.”

From Azerbaijan to Saudi Arabia, where Obama will visit Tuesday, the United States is cozying up to dictators who share some key attributes. They agree with the United States that Islamic extremism must be fought. But they also go after nonviolent opponents — and they are most ferocious against secular, liberal critics. By destroying any moderate forces, they can present themselves as the only alternative to religious fundamentalism.

Another example of one that is our allies, but this is to illustrate a point:

Why is Obama showing so much love for a brutal dictator?


But when Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah died last week, American and Western leaders paid him the deepest respect. President Obama didn’t have time to join the March in Paris to speak out against the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks, but made sure he was present for Abdullah’s funeral. The Pentagon is even having an essay contest to honor the late king.

Former State Department official James Carden reminds us of the late Saudi Arabian king’s human rights record at The American Conservative:
According to Human Rights Watch, the Abdullah regime beheaded 19 people over the course of 16 days last August; one of the executed was, according to a report issued by Amnesty International, mentally ill, while another was beheaded for the crime of “black magic sorcery.” Meanwhile, a blogger by the name of Raif Badawi was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes, while only recently a video emerged of a Saudi policeman beheading a Burmese woman in the middle of a street in Mecca as she screamed for her life. She is one of 10 people beheaded in Saudi Arabia so far this year.
Then of course there is Saudi Arabia’s role in providing material support for the 9/11 atrocity that took the lives of nearly 3,000 Americans. Obama continues to protect the Saudis by refusing to release the 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission report having to do with Saudi Arabia’s funding of and complicity in the attacks. This despite his own promises to the 9/11 families that he would do so…
Meanwhile, the Saudis continue to fund—to the tune of billions of dollars a year—the propagation of the most sinister and violent branch of Islam throughout the world, leading to, among other things, the ritual slaughter of a staff of cartoonists in the very heart of Europe, hostage taking in Sydney, and murderous rampages in Ottawa and Brussels, to say nothing of a series of subway bombings in Madrid, London, and Moscow.

Obama Loves Dictatorships

(Now for this one, I realize these are our allies, but the point is that Trump is supposed to admire dictators per the Washington Post.  This goes to show that Obama and our present government will work with dictators and look the other way on human rights abuses for our benefit.  We saw that illustrated in the Politico article.)

Last week, President Obama met with representatives from six Gulf Arab states: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Oman.


But that wasn’t the only thing that Obama was providing assurances for. He also said that the U.S. government would respond to any external threats against the six Gulf Arab countries. This could even include using military force.


Aside from just women, Amnesty International has listed human rights abuses in each of the six countries. Some are worse than others. We have heard the stories of people being executed for things that we would consider minor crimes, or perhaps not even criminal at all. There are problems in all of these places with the governments inhibiting free speech and not allowing dissent against the government.

Obama’s Legacy Is Propping Up Dictatorships, Not Democracies

By praising Ethiopia’s repressive regime for being “democratically elected” last week, President Obama was driving home once again something that should be abundantly clear by now: His administration marks a radical departure from previous ones when it comes to democracy promotion
On the contrary, the Obama legacy will be one of propping up dictatorial regimes around the world. His praise for the government of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn merely took to Africa what Obama and his foreign policy team have already done on a grander scale in Iran, Cuba and Burma.

To be sure, President Obama was standing next to Desalegn at a joint press conference in Addis Ababa when he spoke. Maybe he didn’t want to be a bad guest. And the president did add that the Ethiopian government has “more work to do.” After a slew of criticism at home, he later also questioned why African leaders cling to office rather than leave after their terms are completed.

But Obama didn’t have to go out of his way to call Desalegn “democratically elected,” let alone do it twice. Nor did he have to make excuses for Desalegn’s government’s horrendous human rights record by recalling the country’s past hardship and the relative infancy of its constitution.
Before he left for Africa, human rights activists and think-tanks had called on Obama to use his trip to promote economic and political freedom—something the president did only in the mildest of ways.
The Ethiopian government, for the record, has been roundly criticized by all major human rights organizations for holding sham elections in May in which Desalegn’s Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) claimed to have won 100 percent of the vote. Immediately upon Mr. Obama’s comments, the president of Freedom House, Mark P. Lagon, released this reaction:

President Obama unfortunately was fundamentally wrong in his comments about the parliamentary elections Ethiopia held in May, in which the ruling Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) won every seat.  Calling Ethiopia’s government democratically elected lowers the standards for democracy and undermines the courageous work of so many Ethiopians who fight to realize a just and democratic society.

Global Dissidents Ask That Obama Pressure Dictators, Not Coddle Them

While President Obama was holding a private confab at the White House Thursday night with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to discuss, among other things, his pet project of climate change, dissidents held a public meeting in another part of Washington to demand more attention for a more traditional American priority, the support for democracy and human rights.

Chen Guangcheng from mainland China joined fellow Hong Kong democracy activists Martin Lee, Joshua Wong and Benny Tai at Washington’s Newseum to repeat a message that has so far failed to dissuade President Obama from cozying up to dictators: you can’t trust someone who mistreats his own people. It was a message that, coincidentally, Cuban dissidents were issuing in a desperate call from Havana at the same time.

“Obama should be on the side of the rights of the Chinese people, not on the side of the leader of the Communist Party,” Chen told me, speaking through an interpreter.


What they want is support from the world, especially the United States. “We need to get support from the White House,” says Wong. “Hong Kong will continue the fight, but we need support from the world.” President Obama’s statements on Hong Kong’s freedoms, however, have been “very weak,” he added.


As fortune would have it, while I was attending the dissidents’ event Thursday night, I received in my inbox a letter from a dissident leader in Havana, Antonio Rodiles from the Cuban movement Estado de Sats, signed by him and 13 other Cuban dissident leaders. The letter made almost exactly the same points the Chinese dissidents were making.

“The United States as a nation has declared time and again its total commitment to the defense of democracy and fundamental liberties,” read the letter, before taking President Obama to task.

Obama, it said, affirms that his policy of opening to the Castro dictatorship “is guided by the values of the Founding Fathers … However, the reality of the current situation contradicts this idea and paints a completely different picture. This unconditional rapprochement has only served to legitimize the longest lived and most destructive dictatorship in the history of the hemisphere, and has served to reinforce the violation of fundamental freedoms.”

Fantastic Piece By Politico Magazine (The Entire Thing is Worth a Read):

 ‘We Caved’

For Egypt’s brutally repressive president, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the spectacle was a triumph, symbolizing not only his militaristic power at home, but also his victory over an American president who had tried to punish him before surrendering to the cold realities of geopolitics. 

Just two years earlier, Sisi had seized power in a military coup, toppling Mohamed Morsi, the democratically elected successor to Hosni Mubarak, himself a strongman of 30 years pushed out in early 2011 by mass protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. In the summer of 2013, Sisi followed his coup with a brutal crackdown that would have done Saddam Hussein proud. His security forces arrested thousands of people, including much of his political opposition, and in one bloody day that summer, they gunned down some 1,000 pro-Morsi protesters (or more) who were staging peaceful sit-ins. The massacre was shocking even by the standards of Egypt’s long-dismal human rights record.

Obama was appalled. “We can’t return to business as usual,” he declared after the slaughter. “We have to be very careful about being seen as aiding and abetting actions that we think run contrary to our values and ideals.”

Several weeks later, Obama halted the planned delivery of U.S. military hardware to Cairo, including attack helicopters, Harpoon missiles and several F-16 fighter jets, as well as $260 million in cash transfers. He also cast doubt on the future of America’s $1.3 billion in annual military aid to Egypt—a subsidy on which Cairo depends heavily, and much more than the United States sends to any country in the world aside from Israel.


For months, Obama tried to split the difference. In meetings and phone calls with the Egyptian ruler, by now paranoid and resentful about America’s intentions, Obama and Kerry urged Sisi to respect human rights, while also seeking his help in countering the the metastisizing Islamic State in nearby Syria and Iraq. Sisi did little of either. 

In the end, Obama folded. This past March, he called Sisi once again, this time to explain that he would release the cash transfers and delayed hardware—including the F-16s—and end the administration’s threats to block the larger $1.3 billion annual aid package.


“He’s never quite melded his rhetoric with his policies,” says Dennis Ross, who served as Obama’s top Middle East aide in his first term. Adds Robert Ford, who was Obama’s ambassador to Syria before resigning in frustration over the president’s policy there: “It seems like we are swinging back to the idea that we must make a choice between supporting dictators or being safe.”


The article says there was a debate over whether or not Mubarak should stay among Obama's advisors.  Obama ultimately went with the camp that said he should go.  Hillary Clinton disagreed.  Now Mubarak didn't have a stellar human right's record, so based on the WaPo's logic, she supported a dictator.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would later describe them, in her memoir, as being “swept up in the drama and idealism of the moment.” She, along with other elders like Gates and then-national security adviser Tom Donilon, warned of unintended consequences.


The latest annual report of Freedom House, a nonprofit that tracks democracy and rights worldwide, tells an unhappy story. Rising authoritarianism from Asia to Latin America made for “a disturbing decline in global freedom in 2014.” That made 2014 just like every other year of the Obama presidency: The group’s freedom index has seen a net decline each year since 2006. Most recently, Freedom House found that authoritarian rulers worldwide “increasingly flout democratic values, argue for the superiority of what amounts to one-party rule, and seek to throw off the constraints of fundamental diplomatic principles.

Some of the worst offenders are nations with which Obama regularly does business, including China, whose president, Xi Jinping, Obama has sought to befriend even as the Chinese leader conducts what activists call a political crackdown unseen since Tiananmen Square. In Turkey, a NATO ally where the U.S. operates a major air base that it uses, in part, to strike the Islamic State in Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has smothered dissent (a Turkish physician is on trial for posting photos online that likened Erdogan to the reptilian Lord of the Rings character Gollum), and Erdogan recently completed a $350 million palace symbolizing his bloated power. Obama’s relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin may be frosty since Putin’s land grab in neighboring Ukraine, but Obama has said little about Putin’s political repression at home.


...They point out that when Obama restored diplomatic relations with Cuba in July, he required only modest concessions from the Castro regime, such as the release of a few dozen political prisoners and the promise of broader Internet access, and that the Cuban government continues to make large numbers of political arrests—more than 1,000 in October alone, according to one independent tally. But Obama feels that sanctions and subversion are dead ends. “A good portion of our democracy funding ends up in the hands of the Cuban government,” says one senior administration official. “The old model just doesn’t work in some places anymore.”


Myanmar is a similar story. In July 2012, Obama agreed to end sanctions and recognize its military-led government, perhaps best known for brutalizing saffron-robed Buddhist monks who revolted against it in 2007. Obama’s November 2012 visit to the country was the first by a U.S. president. More recently, the Burmese regime has stalled political reforms, waged new political crackdowns and created an epic refugee crisis by persecuting its ethnic Rohingya minority. 


Obama came to office determined to engage, not overthrow, Iran’s regime. The Iran Democracy Fund is no more; it has been renamed the Near East Regional Democracy Program, and Obama’s budget requests have shrunk by nearly a quarter. When mass protests erupted across Iran in June 2009, Obama mostly held his tongue. (The opposition Green Movement was brutally crushed and has never been reconstituted. Clinton has since said she regrets that the administration didn’t offer the Greens more encouragement.) The nuclear talks that culminated in last year’s deal also excluded questions like human rights and political reform, although Obama has expressed hope that they may begin a diplomatic thaw that could gradually liberalize Iranian society. 


Several months later, in July 2014, Tom Malinowski, a former Human Rights Watch official who had succeeded the disillusioned Posner as Obama’s top State Department official for human rights and democracy, traveled to Bahrain. Things had been tense in the tiny oil-rich kingdom since March 2011, when its Sunni monarchy—aided by troops from neighboring Sunni Saudi Arabia—used force to clear peaceful Shiite-dominated protests. Mindful that Bahrain hosts the 5,000 sailors and Marines of the U.S. Fifth Fleet, Obama was far more tempered in his reaction than he had been after crackdowns in Syria and Libya, while Clinton called for “calm and restraint on all sides” in a very lopsided confrontation. That fall, amid concerns that Bahrain had used U.S.-supplied arms against protesters, Obama halted the sale of weapons to the country—although a few months later, he allowed other purchases, including Cobra helicopters, to proceed.


But there’s scant evidence Obama has tried to have it. After the Saudi government executed 47 accused terrorists, including the prominent Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, in early January, Obama officials were privately appalled. They believed the death sentences made a mockery of due judicial process, and also foolishly infuriated Shiite Iran. But the White House and State Department, while expressing “concerns” about Saudi Arabia's human rights record, declined to specifically condemn the executions.

Asian trade summit has Obama working with dictators 
Mr. Obama has invited the heads of Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Malaysia and six other countries for the first Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting to be held in the U.S. It’s an effort to burnish his foreign policy legacy of shifting America’s attention to the Asia-Pacific region, including a massive free trade deal.

But the invitations have raised criticism that Mr. Obama is granting legitimacy to dictators who resist democratic reforms, when the president should be offering incentives to improve their human rights records.

“President Obama knows that human rights are under assault in Southeast Asia; the question is whether he’s going to say or do something about it,” said John Sifton, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “The risk is that the summit will empower and embolden ASEAN leaders who have been responsible for jailing journalists, cracking down on peaceful protesters and dismantling democratic institutions after coups.


Among the worst offenders at the summit, say human rights advocates, are Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, an autocrat who has ruled the country since the 1980s and has been shunned by previous administrations from setting foot on U.S. soil. In a new report, Human Rights Watch said the former Khmer Rouge commander has a record of “violence, intimidation, and politically motivated arrests and prosecutions against all perceived opponents, while allowing high-level corruption and cronyism to flourish.”

The sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, one of the world’s richest men, with an estimated net worth of $20 billion, “has imposed a near complete ban on freedoms of expression, association, and assembly,” Human Rights Watch said. “He plans to increase the imposition of Islamic law punishments, including whipping and stoning, for adultery, sex between unmarried persons, and homosexual activity.”

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is implicated in a massive corruption scandal in which nearly $700 million found its way into his bank account. He claimed it was an entirely legal “personal donation” from Saudi Arabia’s royal family. He also has engaged in a crackdown on political opponents, civil society groups and the media.

Vietnamese leaders also will attend the summit, a month after Communist Party leaders chiefs selected the country’s next leaders without any semblance of a democratic process. Bloggers critical of the Vietnamese government are being jailed.

The presence of Thailand’s prime minister, Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, is “especially troubling,” the report said. “Prayut, who regularly threatens critics with violence and asserts that his decisions are unchallengeable, has repeatedly delayed a return to civilian democratic rule,” Human Rights Watch said.

Despite the dismal human rights records of the participants, Mr. Obama is fostering partnerships with them for cooperation on economic and security priorities, including a united front against China over maritime jurisdiction questions in the South China Sea, a major shipping route. The U.S. also wants their cooperation on counterterrorism efforts, and is linking up with several ASEAN countries in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal.

Obama's Apology Tour And Latin American Dictators

Here’s why: His words in Argentina cast his speech in Cuba in sharp relief.  In Havana, the President offered but timid support for human rights in Cuba, devoid of any denunciation of flagrant abuses that continued to rage on the island even during his visit (and even swept up people he was supposed to meet). Yet in Buenos Aires, he strongly denounced an Argentine military dictatorship that dissolved more than three decades ago. The denunciation came, of course, with the requisite expressions of contrition over any possible U.S. involvement.


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