Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Regime Changing

From Ambassador Power's speech Friday...

At a minimum, we thought perhaps a shared evidentiary base could convince Russia or Iran – itself a victim of Saddam Hussein’s monstrous chemical weapons attacks in 1987-1988 – to cast loose a regime that was gassing its people.

What about regime change?

Foundations of Modern Strategy cat unleashes some prett good meds about Regime Changin'

If Great Satan's strategy is to stop Assad from using chemical weapons, demonstrate that America is committed to enforcing this international norm, and undermine states that support such atrocious actions, regime change remains the critical instrument for Great Satan. In fact, all other options are highly susceptible to failure.

Regime change is no more than the policy of deliberately removing a government by force. This may involve a military invasion that removes a government’s political and military leaders. Regime change can extend to installing a new government, which ideally will be supportive of the policies and interests of the state imposing regime change. The case of Iraq in 2003 is the best modern example of regime change.

While regime change may be imposed by force, yet another form of regime change is to encourage the members of the society, after removing their government, to take matters into their own hands. The hope is that they will design and build their own form of government.

These modern ideas about regime change are, frankly, far too limited. There are more effective forms of regime change available to policymakers, which are directly relevant to helping the U.S. deal with Syria. Rather than taking it off the table, policymakers need to understand that regime change exists in more useful forms.

First, regime change does not require a military invasion. One could, for example, take actions, including military strikes and covert actions, which undermine the regime’s credibility while encouraging moderate forces within the state to exert greater political control, emboldening them to oppose the regime.

Regime change can involve a strategic, moral, or political imperative to remove the government based on the view that the regime’s actions constitute a threat to another state or to the international community.

Regime change is an important instrument of policy whose value rests directly on its ability to persuade the leadership of a regime that their policies and actions put them personally at risk. To succeed, the threat of regime change must pose a direct threat to the leadership of a state, on multiple levels.

First, the prospect of regime change is designed, ultimately, to change behavior. In the case of Syria, to stop President Assad from using chemical weapons.

Second, the threat of regime change is designed to put Syria’s leadership at risk. It is essential for leaders to know that they are the direct target of an attack, including Assad himself. Rather than using military force to destroy military targets, which will kill military personnel and likely produce civilian casualties (recalling that authoritarian regimes purposely put military targets next to such humanitarian facilities as hospitals, mosques, etc.), there is a better strategy. The point is to make Syria’s leadership personally responsible for their actions.

Third, the instrument of regime change, if properly designed and implemented, has effects that go far beyond events in Syria. The actions of Syria cannot be viewed in a microcosm. It is able to engage in such actions because it receives support from other states, principally Russia and Iran.

Fourth, leaving the prospect of regime change on the table will have two salutary effects. It will reinforce the norm that using chemical weapons is unacceptable because it puts the regime at risk of being destroyed. And it demonstrates visibly and powerfully, the credibility of Great Satan

Ultimately, using military force to weaken and change the regime has the principal benefit of removing President Assad while allowing the Syrian people to work out the future of their state—however that evolves.

Simply stated, the best option for Great Satan is to keep regime change on the table.

Pic - "It would be irresponsible to strike and weaken the Syrian regime without striking and weakening al-Qaeda at the same time. If we act, we’d better hit them both."