A surprising accord was reached at UN negotiations recently as Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Regime Change (UNFCRC) finally came to agreement on a mandate for international action.
Talks had for a long time been gridlocked as some major countries refused to see a need for international action on regime change whilst others struggled to demonstrate an economic case for it given their long-running dependency on the social pollutants responsible for the underlying problem. The oil industry lobby is also believed to be powerful in the process, given that profits are so closely associated to the source of the problem, especially in the Middle East.
The recent breakthrough came as Russia and China appeared to thaw on the issue enough to abstain on the vote rather than oppose it. They are however rumoured to still not support intervention at this time, believing that action now may set a dangerous precedent that could impinge on their future development. Critical observers say that abstention from China and Russia is not enough to effectuate long-term change; if the issue is to be solved on a global scale, China and Russia must be leading the case for definitive action on regime change, not sitting back and letting others take the first steps.
Even Western governments have to tread carefully on the issue. Although President Obama is said to believe strongly in taking definitive action, the American public is sensitive after previous action on regime change was seen to be costly and of limited effectiveness. Obama is having to rein in his desire to speak passionately about how action on regime change is a moral objective and crucial to our future security and for the prosperity of our children. Instead he puts forward a measured message, being careful to never mention regime change, speaking only about protecting American interests and security and something about a ‘no fly zone’.
David Cameron spoke of how Britain was leading the world and was not afraid of taking the initiative on long-running action. He implied that Britain was prepared to engage in regime change combat for the long-haul, regardless of the time and cost. When critics likened this to a widely condemned, long-running and costly conflict engaged in by the previous government, Mr Cameron unconvincingly dismissed the allegations by stating that this was a whole different sort of regime change action. When challenged on the costs of the action, he looked rather nervous for a moment before highlighting substantial cost-savings to be made back home. Modern Britain needs another long-term foreign conflict more than it needs public services, he said.