For over 60 years, U.S. Foreign policy has been predicated upon a doctrine known as “the lesser of two evils.” In essence, this policy was used as rationale for engaging in alliances with foreign dictators whose disdain for democracy held their own countrymen in virtual bondage to their whims. These dictatorships were free to act as they pleased within their own countries without pressure from the U.S. government with regards to human rights and freedoms so long as they sided with the U.S. in international matters or engaged in capitalistic endeavors with our government and corporations. Despite a stated goal of promoting democracy and freedom across the world (the chief rationale for a half century of opposing communism and a worthy ideal to be sure), successive U.S. administrations and Congresses have made pacts with tyrants who abhor individual freedoms and seek power and wealth at the expense of their countrymen.

The Shah of Iran was one. Idi Amin was one. Manuel Noriega was one. Ferdinand Marcos was another. So was Saddam Hussein. Osama bin Laden was one too. These and many others were at one time or another allied with the government of the United States in our battle against Soviet communism. Yet their tyrannical rule of their own people, with the acquiescence of U.S. governments and in total contradiction to our own stated beliefs of the state of man’s rights to freedom, led to tumultuous political upheavals in those countries and fostered an aura of distrust and outright hostility to the United States. We may have saved the world from the monstrosity of Nazism and Japanese totalitarianism, but we weren’t raising the lives of anyone but ourselves. In fact, we were nothing but hypocrites of the worst sort. We espoused ideas for the whole of humanity while embracing them for ourselves only.

Americans in general understood the concept at play, and recognizing Soviet communism to be a direct threat to freedom and democracy, accepted the rules of the game as the government wrote them. After all, American prosperity exploded. So what if the Arabs and Asians and Africans were being beaten and killed and starved around the world. We were too busy enjoying our access to cheap oil and trinkets to care about anyone else. The policy of the lesser of two evils had done us well, so why rock the boat?

Why indeed?

The simple truth is that the lesser of two evils policy is a fallacy. By choosing this method of foreign relations, the U.S. has not endeared itself to the people of the world. Despite the charity of our individual citizens to poor or ravaged countries around the world, the reputation of America is based on the actions of our government. We tout our freedoms and democratic principals everywhere we go, so the people of the world can only assume that we not only approve of what our government does abroad, we dictate that policy ourselves. They may want to come here and share in that power, but that doesn’t mean they like us. By choosing the lesser of two evils, we’ve shown the world that our means justify any ends, especially if the ends means more money and leisure for us. This approach to foreign policy has made us many false allies and real enemies, and the fruition of this approach is coming home to roost in the form of terror attacks and nuclear proliferation. And while the worst tyrants operate abroad, it is we who let them. Who is worse: the man who kicks the puppy or the one who pays to watch?

The lesser of two evils policy has come to haunt us in others ways too, ways equally as threatening to our way of life as the foreign enemies who are rising against us. So indoctrinated are we in this way of thinking, so convinced that there is always a time and a place to sacrifice our ideals to further our own comfort or success, we have adopted the theory to our own daily lives and politics. We accept throw away consumerism in exchange for cheap prices. We ignore illegal immigration for cheap produce. We vote for political hacks instead of people who really want to help their neighbors.

Well, we reap what we sow, both as a government and as a people. Not only do we have vicious enemies who really want to kill us and our way of life, we have a government who is becoming increasingly more like those dictatorships we propped up in the past. We have a government who espouses the use of torture, secret eavesdropping, indefinite detention, and defamation as a means of securing our freedom. We have a government who meets dissent with a sneer and a slur while telling us that our enemy is evil because they don’t let their people speak freely. We have an administration that will stop at nothing to protect us from our enemies, even if that means destroying the freedoms we hold so dear. We see the evidence mounting, and yet we allow it to continue.


It is because of the lesser of two evils theory, that foul, false policy that does nothing but decrease the total amount of liberty in this world by promoting fear over freedom; profit over people? Our government is telling us that unless we give them the power to do anything, anywhere, and anytime that they see fit, to stop the enemy from attacking us again, then we will surely lose the war on terror and fall victim to a dictatorial theocracy. They want us to believe that by suspending our own liberties to them at home, we will be averting an even greater decimation of our liberty in the long run. They are presenting themselves as the lesser of two evils.

By accepting the doctrine of the lesser of two evils, we may have driven Soviet aggression into the ground. But the price we are paying for our chosen method is an even more unstable world and a more unpredictable array of enemies. Perhaps had we chosen another path of confrontation, we would have won that battle with some real friends in the world. We can’t change the past, but we can learn from it. And we should start our first lesson here.

Our government still pursues the lesser of two evils doctrine abroad, and now they want to use it at home. We are at a crossroads. By choosing the lesser of two evils, we are giving up on the chance of choosing good. We are giving up on the promise of freedom, equality, and peace. We must oppose those who support the tyranny of others for our own prosperity. We must cast out those who would destroy freedom for the sake of false security. We must choose to follow those who will defend freedom for freedoms sake.