Friday, March 18, 2016

Regime Change: Bush, Obama and our Next President

Hillary Clinton and George Bush have taken turns championing the concept of Regime Change, as a reason to commit the United States to overseas wars.  Bill Clinton and Barck Obama have also endorsed this principle.  

The US is entrenched in its belief that we have the right of "Regime Change."  Briefly, that is the right of the US to use military force to depose military dictators such as Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi and other despotic rulers, especially in the Middle East.  

Regime Change was codified in 1998 in the Clinton administration, with the Iraq Liberation Act, which stated that the US would encourage the removal of bad boy Saddam Hussein.   It also bears mention that the US bombed the former Yugoslavia, Serbia, Bosnia and Kosovo, and attempting to aid Muslim rebels in the name of Human Rights.  The Serbs--allies of Russia, in part due to their mutual Slavic heritage--were the target. 

Regime Change was put in force in the George W. Bush administration. Initially the second Iraq War was seen as necessitated to put down the nuclear weapons ambitions of Saddam Hussein.  When it was finally realized that Saddam had no significant capability for nuclear war, it was decided that Regime Change was an adequate justification for removing Saddam from power, especially since it had been passed during the previous Democratic administration.   Opponents of the Second Iraq War were few.  The resolution that authorized President Bush to use force in Iraq passed the Senate by a vote of 77 to 23, and the House by 296 to 133.  Hence both Democrats and Republicans were thoroughly on board.  There is no sense in blaming any one individual, as the great majority supported war.  However, it is worth noting that Senator Hillary Clinton was a strong supporter, while junior Senator Barack Obama was against it.  
The eurphoria surrounding the American invasion eventually wore thin as it was realized that conflict in Iraq was not coming to an end.  Barack Obama narrowly defeated the more hawkish John McCain in 2008.    

However, with Hillary Clinton becoming Secretary of State, the new Administration had an advocate for Regime Change. Indeed, President Obama came eventually to embrace Regime Change not only in Afghanistan and Iraq, but also  in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and Syria with different forms of American support including military aid.   

The total expense of these operations is difficult to estimate, but estimates in Time Magazine (Mark Thompson) peg the range at between 4 and 6 Trillion Dollars.  Remarkably, Americans feel that the American military is weak, and many are willing to support additional spending. According to Gallup, 37% of Americans feel that not enough money is being spent on the military, with another 27% believing that military spending is "about right."  

It seems, then, that Americans are pretty much okay with spending hundreds of billions of dollars each year supporting persons and groups in the Middle East that we know nothing about.  So who are we are supporting with billions or even trillions of American dollars?  Can you name a single person in Syria that commands such respect that we need to invest billions in them?  Do we need to really cause the death of thousands of people to support these unknown revolutionaries?  Is it a good idea to train 100,000 young men to use weapons, in the hope that they will create a peace loving society?    

Most Americans enthusiastically embrace the Regime Change doctrine, and its supporters.  The torch has been passed from Bill Clinton to George Bush, to Barack Obama, and presumably next year it may  go to Hillary Clinton, one of the original proponents of Regime Change and wars of liberation.  

Perhaps there is some movement out there that is so just, so pure and so wonderful that a compelling argument can be made to support it.  However, I'm not aware of it, and I doubt whether you are either, dear Reader.   

My belief is that we simply support our leaders and tacitly endorse the Regime Change principle.  Likely we will simply nod and give our consent to our smiling leaders who need our permission to commit billions of dollars on behalf of unknown persons and groups in the Middle East, hoping that a Pro-American government will somehow emerge in Syria and other countries that we don't like.     
"Regime Change"  will likely be regarded by future historians as one of the most stupid ideas in American history.  Yet is an idea which enjoys great popularity from Republicans and Democrats alike.  


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