I think what underlies American enthusiasm for regime change is a profound and pronounced unwillinness to engage with the world as it is. At the core of this inability is the still popular notion of American exceptionalism. America's great power suggests to US actors an ability to shape the world according to America's ideas of how it should be. In this there is not that much of a practical difference between the Obamaite R2Pers and the Bushmen. They're essentially two kinds of the same utopian breed. Ron Suskind's famous White House aide put it that way in the Bush years: The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
The omnipotence complex on display there is still there. In my perception the Obamaites are not any less enthusiastic about regime change than were the Bushmen, they just think that with their civil society stuff and their skill at NGO powerd crowdrousing they're smarter at it than the oafish Bushmen. You and I may think that engaging Assad is a reasonable thing based on the realities in Syria, but that doesn't mean anything to them. They, like the Bushmen before them, try to reshape reality and in that new reality deposing Assad will result in a Free Syria, rid of the tyrrant Assad, and in which from the ashes a western style liberal democracy will emerge in which the Islamists will commit themselves to pluralism. And blossoms will blooom and everybody will live happily everafter. Of course, just as with Bush, the Likundiks among them pursue, on the side, their own delusions here, one of them being that weak arab neighbours make Israel stronger in relation (inevitably, and correctly), and by extension safer (and that's where they drift into the delusional, given that Assad's most potent opposition is Sunni Jihadis). The Bushmen and the R2Pers are utopians all the same and that is what makes them so prone to messy, dangerous and harmful policies that tend to needlessly get a lot of people killed. The destruction of Iraq under Bush or Libya under Obama come to mind. ... Mr. Polk put it well when he alluded to Humpty Dumpty's fate: Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall,: All the King's horses and all the King's men, Couldn't put Humpty together again. Regime change as a surrogate for a policy that adreses reality has always enjoyed bipatisan support in the US. I wonder the apparent thaw in US-Iranian relations is a sigh for change. I sure hope so. Except for that encouraging sign, there still has not been a reassessment of its efficacy. I think that European support for such policies, in places like Syria and, to my horror, in Ukraine - and that is a belated response to some of Babak's earlier questions from other threads - is the result of transatlantic consensus building among elites, rathern than an outflow of actual police (re)considerations in Europe.
CP is German but he/she/it has a fine understanding of America. pl