WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Two years ago, former President Jimmy Carter traveled to Havana to break bread with the Dean of Dictators, Fidel Castro -- for 45 years the brutal ruler of Cuba's island paradise. While there, Carter not only embraced a despot responsible for torturing and repressing his people -- but took time to denounce his own country, saying the United States "is hardly perfect in human rights."
Castro was one of the few tyrants who failed to grace William Jefferson Blythe Clinton's social calendar, though Clinton made it a habit to meet regularly with the Dictator-of-the-Month while in office. Yasser Arafat visited 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. no less than 11 times. Be it Fidel Castro, Yasser Arafat or former Soviet dictator Mikhail Gorbachev, it seems American liberals crave the affection of brutal authoritarians whose regimes have brought nothing but agony and cruelty to their people.
Last week is a case study in liberal support for dictators. First, it was none other than Saddam Hussein. Despite numerous reports of the Iraqi dictator's bloody atrocities, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton felt it necessary to speak up on his behalf -- commending his treatment of women!
Could Mrs. Rodham be unaware of the mass graves containing the bodies of thousands of Iraqi women and their children, documented by Fox News and others? Is she oblivious of reports showing that during Saddam's reign of terror, more than 200 women were beheaded and their families were forced to display their severed skulls on stakes in front of their homes? Hasn't the junior senator from New York heard of the thousands of women who were raped by members of Saddam's family and the Iraqi security services? How did she miss the photos and videotape of Iraqi women and girls who had been singled out for beatings and torture with hot branding?
But maybe those things don't matter to Clinton. In a speech to the Brookings Institute last week, she described Saddam as "an equal opportunity oppressor," and then went on to lament the heady days under his watch when Iraqi women "went to school, they participated in the professions, they participated in government and business." "And," this liberal champion of women's rights pointed out, "as long as (Iraqi women) stayed out of (Saddam's) way, they had considerable freedom of movement."
Mrs. Rodham went on to condemn the U.S.-lead coalition efforts to build democracy overnight in Iraq. But, she praised the United Nations' 12-year-long attempts to "nurture democratic movements" in the Balkans, something she defended as a "time-taking task." She failed to mention that the Balkan operation costs more than $1.5 billion per year.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.