Infernal Ramblings
A Malaysian Perspective on Politics, Society and Economics

Regime Change for Combatting Poverty and Oppression

Written by johnleemk on 12:09:23 am Apr 20, 2007.

Regime change appears to be the scum of many bleeding heart liberals these days. In their world of moral relativism, there are no good or bad governments - just different ones.

The trouble is, often the oppression that these same left-wingers decry is oppression caused directly by these governments. Still, steadfastly, these people refuse to lend any support to efforts to alter the systems of government in these countries.

I'm not necessarily talking about violent intervention, as occured in Afghanistan and Iraq, although this might sometimes be justified. Even simple things such as lending democracy groups support and putting pressure on regimes to liberalise are better than nothing.

Most liberals are content with token steps, such as talking and criticising foreign regimes, without lending any concrete support to efforts to change these regimes.

For example, trade is the proven key to putting an archaic regime to death. This has occurred in countries like Taiwan and South Korea, and even Chile (where is Pinochet today, exactly?).

There are exceptions, true, but I suspect that it will be difficult for them to remain exceptions. Singapore, for example, is already being forced to liberalise a little, and there's no indication that this trickle will stop.

The only countries where sanctions work better than trade are those that resemble a democracy, such as the former apartheid regime of South Africa. The South African whites who had suffrage largely hated their exclusion from the international community, which made sanctions against them particularly effective.

Yet, the solution of trade has largely been rejected by both proponents and opponents of regime change. Proponents of regime change have been applying sanctions on countries like Cuba and North Korea, with little success. Opponents meanwhile have been voluntarily boycotting countries like Myanmar.

What these countries need is support for change - and the only way we can create such support is to open up these societies so they can see how better off they will be if they change and adopt the best practices that other societies have. How does it help the Myanmarese or the North Koreans if they are left alone and continue to believe in the delusion that they live in an utopic paradise?

Left-wing groups often attack poverty and oppression, and say we must do more to address these problems. But these problems are typically the direct result of the governments these countries operate under.

What is the point of aid for North Korea or Nigeria or Ethiopia, if we know that most of our money will end up padding the pockets of cronies rather than feeding the poor or healing the sick?

Before we can talk about debt relief or further aid to impoverished countries, before we can talk about human rights or whatnot, we must talk about changing the governments that have caused these problems.

Propping up the regimes responsible for these issues is tantamount to condemning the people of these countries to their fate as an impoverished and oppressed people. Regime change is unpalatable, but it need not be done by violence — and in many cases, it may prove to be an investment with worthwhile returns.

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