Jon Basil Utley’s Article, Understanding Dictatorships: From Iran to Cuba, Now Available Online
WASHINGTON, Sept. 4 /PRNewswire/ — Reason Magazine on-line has just published Jon Utley’s article, Understanding Dictatorships: From Iran to Cuba, the question of legitimacy is paramount. Utley is the associate publisher of The American Conservative magazine and a former South American correspondent for Knight Ridder.
So many mistakes are made in Washington from not understanding foreign nations and cultures. In addition, there is a great ignorance about “dictatorships” and what they can and cannot do. This article endeavors to explain some of the important issues.
Recent anti-government demonstrations in Iran have raised our consciousness about the dangers of misunderstanding Third World dictatorships. To most Americans, the word dictator means a Stalin or Hitler — which is the reason our presidents usually accuse new enemies of being new “Hitlers.” Contraposing this, the traditional view of most Americans is that citizens support their government and, if a people really opposed their rulers, the citizenry would overthrow them, like we did the British in 1776. From this viewpoint, the bombing and killing of enemy civilians is “morally” justifiable because “they” generally approved of their (evil) government, or otherwise would have rebelled and overthrown it.
Hitler and Stalin are best understood as totalitarian dictators, a 20th century European creation, enabled by modern science and political mobilization. Third World dictatorships are different. Most of them are very weak and don’t exercise total control, as evidenced by Iran.
The most common misunderstanding centers on the fact that all governments, even dictatorships, need some form of legitimacy to justify their rule to their own people. . . .
SOURCE Reason Magazine