Perilous Partners: The Benefits and Pitfalls of America’s Alliances with Authoritarian Regimes

Liberal democracies such as the United States face an acute dilemma in the conduct of foreign relations. American national interests sometimes require cooperation with repressive, corrupt, or otherwise odious regimes. But close working relationships with autocratic regimes should not be undertaken lightly. Such partnerships risk compromising, or even making a mockery of, America’s values of democratic governance, civil liberties, and free markets. In their new book, Perilous Partners: The Benefits and Pitfalls of America’s Alliances with Authoritarian Regimes, Cato Institute senior fellow Ted Galen Carpenter and Cato adjunct scholar Malou Innocent contend that U.S. officials have amassed a less-than-stellar record of grappling with ethical dilemmas. When are alliances with “friendly dictators” necessary for America’s security? When are such alliances a gratuitous betrayal of fundamental American values? And when is the situation a close call? Please join the authors and two distinguished commentators for a spirited discussion of these and other relevant questions.