Harry Truman was credited with uttering "He may be a bastard, but at least he's our bastard" when discussing the Cold War era policy of supporting ruthless, authoritarian rulers who did cruel and heavy handed things to their own people. And the United States supported such rulers because even though these rulers treated their people like dogs and chess pieces, they where not communists and served the United States interests of containing the spread of Soviet Style Communism from over-running the entire world.
I'm not here to pick a fight with every American president from Truman to Reagan because its' so easy to pick apart policy decisions in highlight because history is the ultimate judge and jurist. The policy of containment and supporting dictators must've seemed like the right decision at the time, but created problems that still hobble United States foreign policy.
The most notable example of bastard diplomacy is Iran where we supported Shah Pahlavi until the very end despite the noted human rights abuses of the SAVAK and blood flowing through the streets of Tehran. This was after we removed the highly popular, nationalist leader Moussadek because it was feared what he would do to Iran potentially bringing it closer to USSR and cutting off Iran's oil to the American market.
Twenty seven years later, after thousands of heads had been broken, an Iranian cleric named Ruhollah Khomeini assailed the Shah as an American stooge and used his program of cushy oil deals for America and human rights abuses to assail him as an agent of American imperialism. His message swept throughout a country desperate for change and thirty two years later, we have at best uneasy and at worst hostile dealings with the Islamic republic.
Latin America is another sad exercise in bastard diplomacy as successive U.S governments supported the corrupt and brutal Somoza regime, giving rise to the Sandinista revolution that eventually began to consume itself.
The continued U.S. interference in Latin American affairs while supporting a group of dubious thug characters has left America with a crippled reputation within the region that was played out publicly in Nicaragua in 2006 when noted Sandinista Daniel Ortega defeated the American backed candidates Eduardo Montealegre and Eduardo Jarquin.
As the Middle East revolts against the Mubarak's and Assad's of the world, The United States would be best served to leave well enough alone and let the chips fall where they may because when we interfere in the affairs of another country it does not work for the American self interest and in many cases ends up in something worse than the status quo. Bastard diplomacy manifested today in autocratic strongmen who is anti-terror or serves a strategic interest through resources or base for military actions needs to fall away as we demand better treatment for all human beings throughout the world.
I may be assailed as a liberal minded dreamer living in a fantasy land or soft of terror. The reality is that the use of heavy handed tactics by autocrats in the name of terrorist fighting is likely to create more terrorists than it will dissuade. I therefore call on President Obama and all of the Republican candidates to put greater focus on human rights in any future foreign policy because America knows the cost of ignoring the human rights of other people.