...then by GOD that strongman stayed both propped up and a puppet. There was none of this nonsense where the strongman would go off in a wild tangent with the sudden emergency powers and the apologetics for terrorist attacks against an ally and the counter-rioting/nascent revolutions. No, the understanding was simple. Keep the country stable; don't shoot down people in the street and don't lock up the non-violent opposition; and don't embarrass that nice Uncle Sugar - and his even nicer no-limit credit card. Do that, and the not-kings got to keep their not-thrones*.
Honestly, rocket science this is not. If you had told me, back in 2007, that even a Democratic President would be unable to pass Realpolitik 101 in 2012, then I would have... well, honestly, first I would have wondered if Hillary Clinton had had a stroke or something. But I'd still would have been incredulous at the idea that such simple concepts as the above could have been so thoroughly mucked up. I sometimes wonder what infuriates the American Left** more: that their self-anointed Messiah Barack Obama doesn't seem to have a foreign policy more sophisticated than Do whatever Bush did, or that Obama's so incredibly bad at even that...
Moe Lane (crosspost)
*I know that the USA has a big thing about democracy and republican forms of government and this is all a very good thing. But our practical foreign policy seems to be big on the idea of creating and supporting monarchies. If I could suggest a compromise: perhaps we should stop trying to fight the tide of our own hidden assumptions, and instead insist on creating constitutional monarchies?
**Well, that portion of it that actually cares about foreign policy, or at least can successfully lie to itself that it really does care. Although I imagine that most people in either group are a little stressed and distracted right now with pretending that they've always loved the idea that the US government could freely engage in no-oversight drone strikes, including against American citizens.