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The U.S. shouldn't prop up tyrants, even if they're on 'our' side

I awoke Monday to news that North Korea's tyrant, Kim Jong Il, is dead ("Kim Jong Il, 1942-2011: Enigmatic leader," Dec. 19). The article in The Sun was part of a confluence of events that include the military hearing at Fort Meade for accused Pentagon whistleblower Bradley Manning and a recent Parade magazine report about the World's Worst Dictators in 2011.

The latter article obviously included Mr. Kim as well as Syrian dictator Bashir Assad. It also noted that a number of other autocrats — Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, Libya's Muammar Gadhafi and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia — were banished from their thrones.

I noticed, however, that the U.S. government was very friendly to many of these autocrats. For example, our government through its rendition policy sent prisoners to be tortured in Syria. And Mr. Mubarak was receiving U.S. tax dollars second only to what Israel gets.

If the revelations in Mr. Manning's hearing are true, he leaked information about the U.S. consorting with dictators like Ben Ali. I would argue those revelations helped ignite the Arab Spring and that Mr. Manning obeyed the oath he took to report government malfeasance, corruption and illegal acts. And he is now suffering the consequences.

Instead of wasting time prosecuting Mr. Manning, our government should pledge never again to give our support to countries engaged in rampant human rights violations. And after taking the pledge, our government should close down its naval base in Bahrain, where doctors and nurses are being tortured and imprisoned for obeying their Hippocratic oaths.

Max Obuszewski, Baltimore

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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