Regime change (Fr. changement de régime) is a term used in diplomacy that refers to a fundamental alteration in a form of government. It does not refer to changes of personalities occupying high office. The term is always used extremely cautiously, and rarely, if ever used directly in diplomatic correspondence with a nation that may be subjected to forcible outside influence for regime change, as the term amounts to a direct threat that there is nothing further to negotiate.
Typically, the term is "whispered" out load to friends, allies, and neighbors once bi-lateral negotiations have terminated over a serious impasse.
Regime change can occur internally as a reform movement, or forcibly by external powers.
The term came into wide usage after the Franco-Prussian War to express a general feeling of discontent among citizens of the French Third Republic living under the undemocratic German dominated Second Reich, culminating in the First World War.
Popular misuse of the term
In the United States the regime that the U.S. government has been operating under since 1789 is the Constitution. Regime change differs from a change of administration, which continues under the same constitutional restrictions and regime. People who call for "regime change" in the United States are not only uninformed politically, or engaged in hyperbole, they are actually calling for the overthrow of the U.S Government and Constitution.
German, Russian, and Iraqi examples
More successful historical regime changes occurred in Germany in 1919, when the monarchy abdicated and a Republic was declared; or the collapse of single-party Democratic Socialism in Russia in 1992 and the establishment of open elections and a parliament; or the removal of the dictator Saddam Hussein in Iraq in 2003 and establishment of a parliamentary democracy.
It should be noted, many extreme leftists in the United States vehemently opposed the establishment of a parliament democracy in Iraq and supported Iraqi fascism. As of 2018, the new Iraqi regime has survived 15 years as a participatory democracy with universal sufferage.
Regime change always has serious long-term consequences for a nation, its neighboring countries, and the world at large. For this reason, discussion of regime change should never be handled cavalierly.
By contrast, the Obama administration, Barack Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power secured a U.N. Resolution to establish a No-fly zone during the Libyan uprising. To do so, false assurances were given to Russia and China that the objective was not regime change. Neither Russia nor China vetoed the Security Council Resolution, which was within their power to do so. While touting the action as "humanitarian" to global media, the real objective was to promote Hillary Clinton as a great world leader by secretly pursuing regime change and the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.
The results were catastrophic: (1) slave markets were set up in the new regime Clinton and Obama created; (2) a tide of three million displaced persons invaded Europe; (3) a breakdown in international Superpower relations as Russia and China vowed to never trust American leaders' promises and assurances again.
- Williams, Dan (August 21, 2018). Sanctions on Iran having effect, but regime change is not U.S. policy: Bolton. Reuters. Retrieved August 21, 2018.