Friday, January 22, 2010

Soft Power Regime Change

The sexyful, sticky seductive power of 'Soft Power' - the ability to get other nation states or illegit regimes to do what ever Great Satan desires without deploying the dreaded (but still totally cool) 'coercive diplomacy.'

Since changing the nature of unfree, unfun and nigh unhinged regimes will most often mean regime changing them - can 'Soft Power' dial up a hook up that took up regime changes?

Oui m'seur!

"It is Iran, a supporter of terrorism now developing the capacity to fire nuclear-tipped missiles, that may pose the greatest threat to global stability and American security.

"That threat can be diminished three ways: by military action, by compromise by Iran's regime, or by a new, less bellicose government taking power in Tehran. The first two appear unlikely, but the third, at least since protests broke out last June after the presidential election, seems more and more realistic. Yet so far the United States and its allies have shrunk from seriously encouraging that third way.

"Immediately after the post-election Green Revolution protests began in Iran, some policy makers argued that overt U.S. support would allow the regime to claim that those in the opposition were somehow our agents. Even with no evidence, the regime did that anyway—to little effect.

"So how can the U.S. support the opposition? The key is strategic communications that integrate words and deeds to achieve a major political goal—in this case, changing the character of the Iranian leadership. Everything that we do, everything that we say—and everything that we don't do and don't say—should be coordinated to meet this goal.

"Such a policy would have four separate tasks:

• Provide moral and educational support for the Green Revolution. Here third parties, rather than the U.S. government, should play the main role. Dissidents should be reminded that others have succeeded on the same path they are travelling.

"We should, for instance, publicize reports on what worked in Ukraine or Georgia, spread testimony by leaders like the Czech Republic's Vaclav Havel, and distribute, in Farsi, guides to nonviolent change like Gene Sharp's "From Dictatorship to Democracy" and Peter Ackerman's "A Force More Powerful." It's time to dub into Farsi documentaries on the fall of Ceausescu, Milosevic and Pinochet; the transitions in South Africa and Poland; and the achievements of the U.S. civil-rights movement.

• Tighten sanctions on the Iranian economy and publicize the connection between regime belligerence and economic malaise. Despite Iran's oil wealth, the economy has for years been in miserable shape thanks to bad management, corruption and the squandering of funds on Arab terrorist groups and the nuclear program. The slogans of the protestors demonstrate that they are connecting the dots between the regime's foreign policy and economic privation.

• Do all we can to increase communications within Iran, as well as between Iran and the outside world. Opposition movements succeed through sharing and disseminating information. Broadcasting by the taxpayer-funded Radio Farda and Voice of America satellite TV should be ramped up, and we should encourage the U.K. to do the same with the BBC. We also should vigorously protest attempts by Iran to jam broadcast signals in defiance of international law, back private media—from satellite TV pitched at young people to cell-phone messaging to social networking—and help Iranians get the technology to overcome regime attempts to block and censor.

• Finally, we should refute, in campaign style, the four key propositions of Iranian propaganda. These are that the reformers are unrepresentative and unpatriotic; that the U.S. is in decline and wants to cut a deal with Iran and extricate itself from the Middle East; that Iran's nuclear program will advance the country technologically; and that international opposition to the program is a Western plot to keep Iran, as a Muslim nation, poor and backward.

"For this last task, America's comparative advantages—our technology and imagination—are the best tools. For example, to counter the claim that the West wants to hold Iran back, the U.S. government, using a private foundation, could rally CEOs in Silicon Valley (and Japan, India and Indonesia, for that matter) to offer Iranian engineering students seminars on high-tech entrepreneurship. We could saturate the airwaves of Iran with messages from, say, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger seeking applicants for the seminars. The Iranian government would likely oppose such a program and the message would be: "Your regime, not the West, wants to keep you down."

"Similarly, we should be using all our tools, including intelligence, to track the individuals responsible for cracking down on the protesters, and to publicize their identities. Naming and shaming perpetrators would put the regime on the defensive and assure the protesters that their sacrifice will not be forgotten. As we know from Soviet dissidents, moral support works.

"A serious strategic communications program for Iran could have dozens, even hundreds, of programs like these. It should extend across government agencies with clear leadership and include private-sector participation.

"Too often in foreign policy our interests demand that we compromise our core values. With Iran, however, we have been blessed with remarkable luck: Our strategic and moral imperatives stand in perfect alignment. And Iranians like Americans.

"The Iranian challenge appears more amenable than any other serious national threat to a soft-power solution. Let's get going.

Pic "Regime Changes the fun way"


Unknown said...

It seems more and more obvious that Obama has dropped the ball in the game with Iran. Would should be incouraging the demostrators. As a Americans if we really believe and self-determination and in freedom and democracy then we have to act like it. We can't just feel good about the fuzzy feeling we get from thinking about it, we have to support that value by our actions. If not we just look like hypocrites.

There is a real chance soft-power will work. But do we have time for that?? Once the Irainian regime has nuclear weappons doesn't that change everything? Will not all the other Middle Eastern nations begin the race for so called defensive nuclear weapons? The answer is yes. Iran cannot be allowed to have nuclear weapons. It will be one of the greatest failures and probably one of the most remembered legacies of President Obama if he allows that to happen.

The day the Iranians annouce they have a nuclear arsenal the world will hold its breath.