Friendly dictator

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A "friendly dictator" from the American point of view is one who is authoritarian but not totalitarian. Up until the 1980s, friendly dictators included the Shah of Iran, President Somoza of Nicaragua, President Pinochet of Chile, President Saddam Hussein of Iraq, President Marcos of the Philippines and President Efraín Ríos Montt of Guatemala.[1] President Franklin Roosevelt famously said of Anastasio Somoza, "He may be an SOB, but he's our SOB."[2] In debates over American foreign policy, liberals and conservatives differed over whether it was better to withdraw support for their regimes (on human rights grounds) or to support them as the lesser of two evils.


  1. The Second 1984 Presidential Debate
  2. Dunbar-Ortiz, Roxanne (2005). Blood on the Border.