Once considered a friend, then an out-of-control tyrant, this leader of a Middle Eastern country was allowed to twist in the wind while a Democratic U.S. administration sent mixed messages.
That's not Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, rather the Shah of Iran more than 30 years ago. While revolution fomented, President Carter and his administration stood by as radical Muslims took over the nation of Iran.
Innocent U.S. citizens were taken hostage in the immediate aftermath of the revolution. In the long term, the U.S. and the west now face an emboldened Iran working to create capacity for nuclear weapons.
Here we are a little more than three decades later, and the U.S. appears to be making the same mistake in Egypt with a revolution there attempting to topple the Mubarak regime.
The Obama administration and even some Republicans are sending mixed messages, calling for a democratic transition - while at the same time calling for Mubarak's outright resignation.
Where was this official U.S. indignation when Iranian citizens revolted last year during a rigged election? It wasn't there because Obama and company are fearful of Iran.
But this is Egypt we're talking about now, and the White House seems to add fuel to the revolution with every comment that chips away at Mubarak's authority.
It's well established - just heard it on NPR the other day - that Mubarak's single strongest opponent in Egypt is the Muslim Brotherhood.
No one knows what will happen if that brotherhood takes over in the leaderless vacuum that seems to be happening in Egypt.
No one in the media mainstream - not even left-leaning NPR - is willing to say if the Muslim Brotherhood will implement the democracy the U.S. is calling for.
What we do know is that extreme Muslims will be in authority - and history has shown us the outcome when that happens.
The U.S. is in grave danger of losing a key ally - Egypt - in the Middle East.
Yes, let's pressure Mubarak to transition to a transparent democracy.
But let's not undermine his authority before democratic reforms can even happen!
After all, if an Ayatolla Whoever swoops into power in Egypt you can say goodbye to reform and goodbye to a good friend.
Just ask President Obama, who just 18 months ago said this in a speech when Mubarak visited the White House:
"The United States and Egypt have worked together closely for many years, and for many of those years, President Mubarak has been a leader and a counselor and a friend to the United States."
That's right, Obama called Mubarak a "leader, a counselor and a friend to the United States" less than two years ago.
Friendship in the Obama White House sure is fleeting.
Sadly, just like its memories of Carter's failures in dealing with a Middle East revolution that turned friend into foe.