New York Times: Unlike “Outsiders,” Africans Coddle Dictators

by Randy Shaw on August 17, 2010

In the Sunday, August 15 New York Times, reporter Alan Cowell makes the remarkable assertion that “African solidarity sometimes trumps outsiders’ outrage, as bewildered Westerners have discovered in the broad support offered to the dictatorial President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe by some of his continental peers.” Westerners bewildered by support for a dictator? Cowell and his Times editors need to reread the long record of United States support for dictators since World War II.

Of course, our “Western” nation didn’t simply support murderous dictators; we overthrew democratically elected governments in Chile, Guatemala, Iran, and elsewhere to install them in power. And the U.S. used military force to sustain brutal dictatorships in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and South Korea, and to this day the Obama Administration backs the illegitimate government in Honduras.

Robert Mugabe, the subject of Cowell’s claim, is a murderous tyrant. He deserves all the calumny thrown his way, and should be more heavily criticized by fellow African leaders.

But for Cowell to claim that African leaders somehow are more tolerant of brutal dictators than the West is historically false and profoundly racist. If the Times’ correspondent is this ignorant of history, it’s easy to understand why so many Americans and “Westerners” erroneously believe in the greater morality of their nation’s foreign policies.

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