Una White House not so white

The White House in Washington, the Élysée Palace in Paris, 10 Downing Street in London, the Kremlin in Moscow, all known places of political power. What is happening inside is not necessarily known to the public. The destinies of several nations are played out, alliances are woven and unraveled, decisions are made that can change the face of the world.

Victor Béliveau chose to retain, among Washington’s friendly dictatorships, six specific cases: Fulgencio Batista in Havana in 1959, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in ​​Tehran in 1979, Mobutu Sese Seko in Kinshasa in 1991, Suharto in Jakarta in 1998, Ilham Aliyev in Baku in 2005 and Hosni Mubarak in Cairo in 2011, corresponding to three different historical conjunctures: cold war 1948-1989, new world order 1989-2001 and post-September 11, 2001 until the day after the Arab Spring of 2012.

Why does a President of the United States, Republican or Democrat, support a dictator and decide to abandon the other, despite the obvious bonds of friendship? he wonders. “Our hypothesis,” he replies, “is that these decisions are above all based on a calculation linked to the constant search for the maximum conservation of acquired influence (CMIA), making it possible to decipher this apparent contradiction. That is to say, even if it may seem contradictory, the White House bases, above all, its foreign policy on this CMIA.

It is a simple matter of political calculation. If a friendly dictator loses control of his country for x reasons (following massive strikes, a military uprising, violent demonstrations, etc.), Washington may decide to drop him if he quickly finds a replacement which will allow it to retain its influence and keep intact the military and economic treaties. It is not the dictatorial regime that is questioned, it is the dictator himself, specifies the author. Under such conditions, the United States can abandon the fallen dictator-in-arms and even refuse him political asylum. As a 19th century British politician said, in politics there are no permanent allies or permanent enemies, there are only permanent interests.

This CMIA strategy prevents the United States from intervening directly and militarily in a country under influence, as it did in Panama (1989) and the island of Grenada (1983). Béliveau inventoried all the occasions, from 1948 to 2012, where “the White House had to decide on the cessation or the continuation of its support for a friendly dictator confronted with an internal uprising”, no less 45 cases! An unusual and exemplary work.

The case of Cuba

The author recalls that the United States has long been interested in Cuba, which it tried to buy from Spain several times in the 19th century. After long struggle for independence in 1898, Cuba fell under American control. “During the next twenty years, the United States intervened four times (in 1906, 1909, 1912 and from 1917 to 1922) in the territory of Cuba to restore order and preserve its economic interests. The coming of Batista to power, following a coup d’etat, did Washington’s business because it insured the CMIA. But this honeymoon was short-lived. The guerrilla warfare led by Fidel Castro and his barbudos was progressing without the Batistian army being able to stop it. As Fidel was most popular, on December 14, 1958, Washington abandoned Batista and then sought to coax Fidel, minimizing his anti-imperialist speech. The White House quickly recognized the new provisional government. But the wine turned sour: “Barely six months after the Cuban Prime Minister visited the White House, Eisenhower approved a plan proposed by the State Department to support anti-Castrist groups in Cuba and the United States and to favor the possible overthrow of Castro. This rearguard fight continues today.

The chapters on Iran and the fall of the shah, Zaire (former Belgian Congo) with the corrupt Mobutu “the leopard of Kinshasa”, the Indonesia of the bloodthirsty Suharto, the strong man of Jakarta, Azerbaijan after the The implosion of the USSR, and the Egypt of Mubarak, the man with the iron hand, are just as captivating. The new scenarios underway in Venezuela, Bolivia and Honduras are all part of this constant search for the CMIA in which Trump is actively involved.

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