Updated: 5/16/2006; 12:33:38 PM.

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daily link  Monday, June 20, 2005


How To Change Ugly Regimes: The case for 'conditional engagement':  The US "tried regime change with Iran and conditional engagement with Libya. ..  For the average person in Libya or Vietnam, American policy has improved his or her life and life chances. For the average person in Iran or Cuba, U.S. policy has produced decades of isolation and economic hardship.  Don't get me wrong. I think the regimes in Tehran and Havana are ugly and deserve to pass into the night. But do our policies actually make that more likely? ..

Who would have predicted that Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan would see so much change in the past year and a half? But these examples only prove my point. The United States had no "regime change" policy toward any of these countries, and it had relations with all of them. In fact, these relationships helped push the regimes to change and emboldened civil-society groups. ..

Nixon and Kissinger opened relations with what was arguably the most brutal regime in the world at the time. And as a consequence of that opening, China today is far more free—economically and socially—than it has ever been. If we were trying to help the Chinese people, would isolation have been a better policy? ,,

it feels morally righteous and satisfying to "do something" about cruel regimes. But in doing what we so often do, we cut these countries off from the most powerful agents of change in the modern world—commerce, contact, information. To change a regime, short of waging war, you have to shift the balance of power between the state and society. Society needs to be empowered. .. [By] piling on sanctions and ensuring that a country is isolated, Washington only ensures that the state becomes ever more powerful and society remains weak and dysfunctional. In addition, the government benefits from nationalist sentiment as it stands up to the global superpower. Think of Iraq before the war, which is a rare case where multilateral sanctions were enforced. As we are discovering now, the sanctions destroyed Iraq's middle class, its private sector and its independent institutions, but they allowed Saddam to keep control. When the regime was changed by war, it turned out that nation-building was vastly more difficult because the underpinnings of civil society had been devastated. ..

In a careful study, the Institute for International Economics has estimated that U.S. sanctions on 26 countries, accounting for more than half the world's population, cost America between $15 billion and $19 billion in lost exports annually and have worked less than 13 percent of the time ..

regime change has become a substitute for an actual policy toward countries like North Korea and Iran, with which we have serious security problems. Rather than tackling the issue of North Korean nukes, we're waiting for the country to collapse. We might be waiting awhile."  Notable that the only 'condition' in conditional engagement is a non-confrontational security posture.  Economic and political liberalization are the result, not the precondition, for engagement.

  8:38:15 PM  permalink  

 

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Last update: 5/16/2006; 12:33:38 PM.