Dealing with Bad Allies: The Case for Moral Realism

World affairs are not akin to a fairy tale with easy moral lessons and preordained happy endings. But not all nasty allies are worth the blowback or the stain on our national character. 

Issue: November-December 2015

IN THE West Wing episode “The Women of Qumar,” the White House concludes a $1.5 billion arms sale to the fictional country of Qumar on the Persian Gulf in exchange for an extended lease on a base for the U.S. Air Force. C. J. Cregg, the president’s press secretary, is livid about the deal because of the Qumari government’s nasty treatment of women. (The parallel with the conduct of the governments of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain was not terribly subtle.) As a woman herself, Gregg views a close relationship between the United States and an odious regime as utterly unacceptable.

You must be a subscriber of The National Interest to access this article. If you are already a subscriber, please activate your online access. Not a subscriber? Become a subscriber today!