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Is Regime Change A Viable Foreign Policy Strategy?

History shows it tends to fail

It can be good when done right

 Getty: Wathiq Khuzaie / Stringer

America has an extensive history of toppling governments around the world. Almost none of them turned out well, believes Stephen M. Walt of Foreign Policy. From tying the US to an over 15-year engagement in Afghanistan that cost a trillion dollars to ousting Libya’s leader and turning the country into a mess, these interventions should not have taken place. The instability that reigns after a government is overthrown, even an authoritarian one, can lead to things getting even worse. It also shows that nuclear armament offers full security. Libya’s Gaddafi gave up nuclear weapons only to end up dead. Kim Jong-un would be unwise to follow suit.

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Recent failures in regime change happened because they were not executed correctly, holds James F. Jeffrey of the Washington Institute. It is possible to change a country’s government with positive consequences. Japan and Germany are probably the two most successful examples. Libya, a huge disaster, turned out like this because the nation-building that must accompany regime change didn’t take place. Foreign powers need to provide essentials, such as safety, transportation, financing, judicial and medical services. Building upon a country’s already existing system, and not dismantling it, is the best way for a smooth transition.

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