He will be remembered…for his commitment to peace and for strengthening understanding between faiths.
So said British Prime Minister David Cameron following the death of Saudi Arabian King Abdullah on January 24th. These words were spoken of a man whose kingdom is widely lambasted for its draconian justice system, marginalization of women, suppression of dissent, and turning a blind eye to terrorist funding. How could Cameron or other world leaders praise someone whose policies stand at such odds with their own?
The answer lies in resolving a fundamental dilemma of diplomacy in a time when liberal democracy has not reached every nation, but cooperation is required to achieve mutual and global goals. If we make alliances with dictators, are we supporting their crimes? If we shun them as criminals, will we suffer the consequences of ignoring our self-interest while leaving the oppressed to suffer?
How do we resolve the conflict between two seemingly bad choices?