Containing Saddam (word) - CONTAINING SADDAM Critics of...

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CONTAINING SADDAM Critics of America’s plans to oust Saddam Hussein militarily have mounted powerful arguments,  but not one has articulated a coherent nonmilitary strategy to bring about the demise of the  monstrous Iraqi regime. But there is an alternative strategy, one inspired by an extraordinary but little-noticed political trend that has been under way for more than thirty years. During this period the number of authoritarian regimes around the world has dropped by more than half.   In almost none of these transitions did the regime succumb to the sort of coercive economic  sanctions that have crippled Iraq’s economy over the past decade, nor to an external military as- sault like the one the United States is now planning. In most cases the overthrow of dictators– Albania’s Hoxha, Romania’s Ceausescu, Serbia’s Milosevic and dozens of other brutal auto- crats–has taken even close observers by surprise. In different circumstances Saddam’s demise  could be equally swift and just as unexpected. Authoritarian regimes ultimately fall because, as societies become more developed, more com- plex and more interdependent, they also become increasingly difficult to govern by brute coer- cion. The decline of autocracy has been accelerated by the growing dominance of market-ori- ented democracy and the crisis of legitimacy all authoritarian states confront sooner or later if  they fail to deliver the political and economic goods. Nonviolent “regime change” is not something that can be easily engineered from outside, of  course. But the international community can help create the conditions that will facilitate the  transition. Responsibility for actually effecting and sustaining change will, however, always rest  with the citizens.
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