Friendly Tyrants of the United States
I adore Roger Cohen's writing. And it is not just the quality of the writing itself. Roger's deep appreciation of soccer, his South African roots, his understanding of Africa and love of the US all contribute significantly.
However this particular essay is disappointing. Reason: He joins the rest of the MSM in hiding from readers the most important fact about the Tunisian revolution: The ousted dictator was propped up by the US, one of many "friendly tyrants" especially in the Arab world and in Africa.
In the Arab world, the US, "for 60 years sacrificed democracy in order to maintain stability but wound up with neither." Says who? Says George Bush 43 and Condi Rice.
In Africa the situation is grimmer. The US greeted African independence by helping to murder Patrice Lumumba 50 years ago and then installing Joseph Mobutu on the Congo. With Western protection, he proceeded to bring a vast, very rich country to its knees while personally becoming extremely rich and corrupt.
Fifty years later the Cold War is over and the US president, the son of an African has declared that "Africa does not need strongmen, it needs strong institutions."
Sadly Washington is still propping up dictators across Africa. Zenawi in Ethiopia and Museveni in Uganda are pretty bad.
However because of hagiographic mythology and powerful friends, Kagame of Rwanda is the most dangerous of America's "friendly tyrants" in Africa.
Mr. Cohen these are important facts you must tell your readers, especially Americans. Thank you.