Senator Tom Harkin says the U.S. must rethink its support of “dictators” like Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. ‘

You’ve had a dictator there for a long time — our buddy, Mubarak — but there have no outlets for any political opposition and it’s finally reached the boiling point,” Harkin says.

According to Harkin, Egyptians have found out that by expressing themselves, they’re closer to getting the changes they seek in their country. 

“For too long, we have supported a lot of dictators who were our allies and our friends, but we haven’t really done anything to help urge them, move them off of their political system and try open it up a little bit.  We should have been working with Mubarak for 30 years, little bit by little bit by little bit,” Harkin says.  “I think we were just content to say, ‘You take care of it; you’re our friend; you’re our ally,’ and move on.”

Harkin, a Democrat,  says as a nation that got its freedom by “throwing off the yoke of British oppression,” we should be “more understanding” of freedom movements in other countries like Egypt.

“We can’t control everything, but I think it’s another example of where we, as a nation, ought to, as we work with our allies, be more promotive of democracy and an opening for people to express themselves in the political sector,” Harkin says. 

According to Harkin, it’s time to throw off a “World War II” mindset in which the U.S. has supported regimes in Chile, Argentina, and the Phillippines, putting the priority of stability in an ally over freedom of expression of its people. 

Harkin made his comments this morning during taping of the Iowa Public Television program, “Iowa Press,” which airs tonight at 7:30.