He’s a murderous dictator, but he’s OUR murderous dictator

I hope I will be excused if I can’t help commenting on a contemporary, non-Coolidge subject for a change:

I find it more than a little ironic that so many conservatives in U.S. politics (Huckabee, Palin, Beck to name a few) are so afraid of “losing” Egypt, and it makes me glad that I have found myself more at home with Libertarianism. It is true that Mubarak is a “friend of the West” to some extent, financed by untold billions of financial and military aid. It is also true that he is a fairly unsavory dictator, with torture and oppression as his hallmarks.

Historically, no such situation is like the other. When the Shah of Iran was deposed, few expected a Shiite theocratic dictatorship, but it came. Conversely, when Ronald Reagan convinced Philippine dictator Marcos to step down without bloodshed, the result was a reliable albeit somewhat ramshackle democracy. Egypt may turn out one way or the other; my point is that the United States should stand with the people and against oppression, however geopolitically convenient the latter appear to be. Even more fundamentally, the U.S. should refrain completely from meddling in other nation’s internal affairs. The temptation is great for a superpower to fiddle with political factions in client states, but again, history is littered with unintended consequences of such fiddling. Slightly misquoting Calvin Coolidge, the business of the United States should be minding its own business.

Update: Interesting well-informed and well-intentioned debate over whether Egypt will be a democracy 12 months from now h e r e , while William Anderson cautions over at The Freeman that “Egypt is not ours to lose” and Anthony Gregory at The Independent Institute’s blog points out the parallels (and differences) between Saddam Hussein and Hosni Mubarak.

New Update: Now that Mubarak appears to be gone, Ted Galen Carpenter at the Cato Institute weighs the pros and cons (mostly cons) of the U.S. siding with autocratic rulers.