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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 10/3/15

When Did 'Regime Change' Replace 'Free and Fair Elections'?

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I'm confused. Has it suddenly become okay to take up arms against a legitimate government? The US Declaration of Independence asserts that:

Declaration of Independence
Declaration of Independence
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We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.-That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

This text, written to justify armed rebellion against the British government that ruled America as a colony, was swept under the carpet after the mid-nineteenth century civil war that opposed the Northern and Southern States. It was replaced by the mantra that in a democracy, change can only be effected through 'the ballot box'.

And yet, suddenly with the war against Iraq in 2003, "regime change" became an acceptable notion, tripping off the lips of military men, politicians and the press whenever they did not fell like waiting for 'the ballot box'. This week's condemnations of Russia for bombing Syria's 'moderate' opposition, provides an ideal opportunity to show up the disconnect between America's historical commitment to "free and fair' elections, and its military pursuit of regime change in foreign lands.

The accusations imply that it is ok for 'moderates' (whatever that may mean in any given political context) to oppose a government by force, whereas 'radicals' - such as communists or Islamists - are for some mysterious reason barred from doing so.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is not trying to recreate the Soviet Union, however, he defends the same principle as the Communist state: non-interference in a country's internal affairs by another country. That principle does not appear in any of the US's founding documents, however, it is fundamental to the concept of a United Nations, which the US was instrumental in bringing into existence.

President Barack Obama misses no opportunity to accuse Russia of behaving as if 'might made right', of being a 'big country' imposing its will on 'smaller countries' (such as the Crimea, which is not a country, but a region that was attached to the Soviet state of Ukraine by presidential fiat in 1954). In the Alice in Wonderland world of the American president, there is no contradiction between recovering a crucial military facility from a foreign government turned enemy, and going to war to topple democratically foreign elected rulers.

Have America's intellectuals as well as the American public so abandoned the use of logic that they fail to see the contradictory nature of our President's pronouncements? When did 'regime change' become part of United States - or United Nations' - principles?

Equally important, though not as fundamental, is the contradiction between defending 'moderate' opposition forces seeing the violent overthrow of an elected government, and the statement that of the rule of law alone legitimizes a government.

"Killing his own people", the label affixed to Assad, precludes any recognition that a legitimate government cannot allow itself to be overthrown by force; that its first duty is to defend its people - who have spoken via an election - from having the government they have chosen taken from them by force of arms. A civil war is never started by a government: it is started by a group that seeks to overthrow the government, and every government in the world will respond militarily. When the United States government went to war against the southern states, it was not because those states sought to overthrow it: they simply wanted to leave it. Yet we seek to overthrow Bashar al-Assad because he kills those of his people who seek to overthrow him by force.

Such is the power of language that the phrase 'regime change' a staccato three-syllable motto, has wiped away two centuries of commitment to 'one man, one vote' and 'change through the ballot box'. Although many commentators and activists disagree with the president's policy, none have expressed it as a fundamental contradiction to America's founding documents, which presidents are bound to protect. Instead we now have so-called 'R2P' ('responsibility to protect' civilians whose governments are resisting their attempts to overthrow it ) and 'regime change' to suit our own purposes.

As I have written before, and will continue to affirm until someone contradicts me, the above-stated policy is implemented exclusively vis a vis left-leaning governments. So determined is the US to cleanse the world of left-leaning regimes, that it accuses Russia of bombing so-called 'moderates' while recognizing the fact that materiel given to these self-same moderates often ends up in ISIL hands.

The US would rather risk betrayal by pro-capitalist Muslims, than save an anti-capitalist Muslim regime.

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Born in Phila, I spent most of my adolescent and adult years in Europe, resulting over time in several unique books, my latest being Russia's Americans.

CUBA: Diary of a Revolution, Inside the Cuban Revolution with Fidel, Raul, Che, and Celia Sanchez

Lunch with Fellini, Dinner with Fidel: An Illustrated Personal Journey from the Cold War to the Arab Spring


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