List of authoritarian regimes supported by the United States

Reunion of SEATO leaders in Manila, 1966, with the presence of authoritarian leaders Nguyen Cao Ky from South Vietnam (first from left, with Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt at his side), Park Chung-Hee from South Korea (third from the left), Ferdinand Marcos from Philippines (fourth from the left, with New Zealand Prime Minister Keith Holyoake at his right) and Thanom Kittikachorn from Thailand (second from the right, with US President Lyndon B. Johnson at his side)

Over the last century, the United States government has often provided, and continues to provide today, financial assistance, education, arms, military training and technical support to numerous anti-leftist and anti-Islamist authoritarian regimes across the world. A variety of reasons have been provided to justify the apparent contradictions between support for dictators and the democratic ideals expressed in the United States Constitution.

Prior to the Russian Revolution, support for dictators was often based on furthering American economic and political priorities, such as opening foreign markets to American manufacturers. Following the rise of communism, the United States government also began to support authoritarian regimes that it felt were combating movements aligned with communism, including socialist and democratic socialist movements, especially in Latin America.[1][2] Such assistance continued despite the belief expressed by many that this contradicted the political ideals espoused by the US during the Cold War.[3] Support was also geared toward ensuring a conducive environment for American corporate interests abroad, such as the United Fruit Company or Standard Oil, especially when these interests came under threat from democratic governments.[4][3] Support for authoritarian regimes has been justified under various ideological frameworks as well, including the Truman Doctrine, the Kirkpatrick Doctrine and the "War on Drugs".[4]

From the 1980s onwards, the United States government began to fear that its interests would be threatened by the increasingly popular Islamist movements in the Middle East, and began to work to secure cooperative authoritarian regimes in the region, while isolating, weakening, or removing, uncooperative ones.[5] In recent years, many policy analysts and commentators have expressed support for this type of policy, with some believing that regional stability is more important than democracy.[6][7] The United States continues to support authoritarian regimes today. However, international relations scholar David Skidmore believes that increased public pressure is motivating a shift away from supporting authoritarian regimes, and towards supporting more consensual regimes instead.[8]

Authoritarian regimes currently supported

This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.
Date of support Country Regime Notes
1991–present  Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev; Ilham Aliyev[9][10]
1992–present  Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev[11][12]
1959–present  Singapore People's Action Party[13][13][14]
1984–present  Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah[15][16][17][18]
2011–present  Vietnam Trương Tấn Sang[19]
2014–present  Thailand Prayut Chan-o-cha[20]
1994–present  Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon[19]
2006–present  Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow[19]
1945–present  Saudi Arabia House of Saud[21][22][23]
1999–present  Bahrain Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa[24]
1972–present  Qatar House of Thani[25][26]
1970–present  Oman Qaboos bin Said al Said[23]
1954–present  Jordan Hashemite Dynasty[27][28]
1971–present  United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates[29]
2014–present  Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi[30]
1777–present  Morocco Alaouite dynasty[31]
1999–present  Djibouti Ismaïl Omar Guelleh[32][33]
1979–present  Equatorial Guinea Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo[19]
1982–present  Cameroon Paul Biya[34][35]
1990–present  Chad Idriss Déby[36]
1986–present  Uganda Yoweri Museveni[37]
2000–present  Rwanda Paul Kagame[38]

Authoritarian regimes supported in the past

This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.
Current president Barack Obama and Michelle Obama with Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow of Turkmenistan, September 2009, one of the most repressive regimes in the world,[39] supported with millions of dollars in military aid.[40]
Middle East special envoy Donald Rumsfeld meeting Saddam Hussein on 19–20 December 1983.
Presidents Emílio G. Médici (left) and Richard Nixon, December 1971. A hardliner, Médici sponsored the greatest human rights abuses of Brazil's military regime. During his government, persecution and torture of dissidents, harassment against journalists and press censorship became ubiquitous. A 2014 report by Brazil's National Truth Commission states that the United States of America was involved with teaching the Brazilian military regime torture techniques.[41]
U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger shaking hands with Augusto Pinochet in 1976.
Date of support Country Regime Notes
1876–1911  Mexico Porfirio Díaz[42] During the Porfiriato, tensions between the U.S. and Mexico were high.
1929–2000  Mexico Institutional Revolutionary Party[43]
1932–1944  El Salvador Maximiliano Hernández Martínez[44]
1933–1949  Honduras Tiburcio Carías Andino[45]
1950–1958  Venezuela Marcos Pérez Jiménez[46]
1908–1935  Venezuela Juan Vicente Gómez[47]
1898–1920  Guatemala Manuel Estrada Cabrera[48]
1931–1944  Guatemala Jorge Ubico[48]
1948–1956  Peru Manuel Odria[49]
1952–1959  Cuba Fulgencio Batista[50]
1930–1961  Dominican Republic Rafael Trujillo[51] Later overthrown with at least some aid from the CIA.[52]
1954–1986  Guatemala Efraín Ríos Montt and other Juntas[53][54][55]
1963–1982  Honduras Oswaldo López Arellano and other Juntas[56][57]
1979–1982  El Salvador Revolutionary Government Junta of El Salvador[58]
1971–1978  Bolivia Hugo Banzer[59]
1973–1985  Uruguay Civic-military dictatorship of Uruguay[60][61]
1976–1983  Argentina National Reorganization Process[62][63]
1964–1985  Brazil Brazilian military government[41][64]
1936–1979  Nicaragua Somoza family[65]
1957–1971  Haiti François Duvalier[66]
1971–1986  Haiti Jean-Claude Duvalier[66]
1968–1981  Panama Omar Torrijos[67]
1983–1989  Panama Manuel Noriega[67] Later overthrown by U.S. in Operation Just Cause in 1989.
1954–1989  Paraguay Alfredo Stroessner[68][69]
1973–1990  Chile Augusto Pinochet[70][71]
1992–2000  Peru Alberto Fujimori[72]
1948–1960  South Korea[73] Syngman Rhee
1958–1969  Pakistan Ayub Khan See also: Pakistan–United States relations during the Cold War era.
1961–1979  South Korea Park Chung-hee[74]
1979–1988  South Korea Chun Doo-hwan[75]
1955–1963  South Vietnam Ngo Dinh Diem[76] Later assassinated in a U.S.-backed coup. See also: Cable 243, Arrest and assassination of Ngo Dinh Diem.
1970–1975  Cambodia Lon Nol[77]
1969–1971  Pakistan Yahya Khan[78][79][80]
1941–1979  Iran Mohammad Reza Pahlavi[81][82] See also: 1953 Iranian coup d'état.
1965–1986  Philippines Ferdinand Marcos[83][84]
1978–1988  Pakistan Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq[85]
1963–1967  Iraq Abdul Salam Arif, Abdul Rahman Arif[86]
1982–1990  Iraq Saddam Hussein[87] Later seen as an enemy of the U.S. in the Gulf War and deposed in the Iraq War. See: United States support for Iraq during the Iran–Iraq war.
1967–1998  Indonesia Suharto[88][89] See also: Allen Lawrence Pope.
1949–1953  Syria al-Za'im-Shishkali-al-Hinnawi Junta[90][91][92] See: Husni al-Za'im, Adib Shishakli, Sami al-Hinnawi.
1999–2008  Pakistan Pervez Musharraf[93]
1990–2016  Uzbekistan Islam Karimov[19]
1990–2005  Kyrgyzstan Askar Akayev[94]
1990–2012  Yemen Ali Abdullah Saleh[95]
1969–1985  Sudan Gaafar Nimeiry[96]
1978–1991  Somalia Siad Barre[97]
1980–1990  Liberia Samuel Doe[98]
1991–2012  Ethiopia Meles Zenawi[19]
1965–1997  Zaire
 Democratic Republic of the Congo
Mobutu Sese Seko[99][100]
1982–1990  Chad Hissène Habré[101]
1981–2011  Egypt Hosni Mubarak[102]
2012–2013  Egypt Mohamed Morsi[103]
1948–1994  South Africa National Party (South Africa)[104][105]
1987–2011  Tunisia Zine El Abidine Ben Ali[106]
1936–1975  Spain Francisco Franco[107] At times opposed diplomatically because of fascist leanings. See: Francoist Spain.
1933–1974  Portugal António de Oliveira Salazar[108] See Estado Novo (Portugal)
1941–1945  Soviet Union Joseph Stalin[109] Later considered an enemy of the US. See Cold War.
1948–1980  Yugoslavia Josip Broz Tito[110] See Informbiro period.
1967–1974  Greece Greek military junta[111]
1980–1989  Turkey Turkish military junta[112]
1969–1989  Romania Nicolae Ceaușescu[113]
1941–1975  Republic of China Chiang Kai-shek[114]
1948–1957  Thailand Plaek Phibunsongkhram[115]
1963–1973  Thailand Thanom Kittikachorn[116]
1958–1963  Thailand Sarit Thanarat[117]

See also


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Further reading

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