Neocons Scheme for More ‘Regime Change’

Exclusive: The neocons are back on the warpath, seeking to bomb the Syrian government and scheming to destabilize nuclear-armed Russia en route to another “regime change” – while ignoring the grave dangers, says James W Carden.

By James W Carden

In 1985, the diplomat and historian George F. Kennan published a seminal essay in Foreign Affairs magazine in which he took on the topic of “Morality and Foreign Policy.” Objecting to the habit of American policymakers to link foreign policy objectives to specific desired outcomes within the borders of sovereign nations, Kennan struck a blow for the Westphalian interstate system which had been the cornerstone of international life since 1648.

Standing against the neocon tide yelling “stop!”, Kennan decried what he called the “histrionics of moralism” that guided American policymakers into believing they were responsible – and worse still, had it in their power – to right every wrong in every corner of the globe.

Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who pushed for the Ukraine coup and helped pick the post-coup leaders.

Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who pushed for the Ukraine coup in 2014 and helped pick the post-coup leaders.

The self-declared mission to remake the world in America’s image has only become more entrenched since Kennan’s essay appeared three decades ago. In fact today’s neocons – positively high on self-righteous indignation, particularly when it comes to Russia and Syria – are perhaps even worse than their ideological forbearers who at least understood the all-too-real dangers of a nuclear conflagration between the U.S. and Soviet Union.

Today’s neocons – comfortably ensconced in U.S. government- and NATO-funded think tanks, major newspapers and magazines, issue forth groundless denunciations of the Russian government; eagerly cheer on the destruction of a modern European state, Ukraine; cheer on NATO’s latest adventures on the Russian frontier; and earnestly hope that a secular Syrian government be replaced by a band of Sunni religious fanatics, all the while smugly shrugging off the possibility of a nuclear confrontation between Russia and the West. Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad, you see, are “bad guys”: end of discussion.

And this brings us to the neocons who, unlike the scores of Christopher Hitchens acolytes in the Washington media world, actually wield some power. On June 7, testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland seemed pleased to report that the U.S. has already spent $600 million on “security assistance” in Ukraine, while $787 million has been requested for FY2017.

Meanwhile, efforts to undermine the legitimacy of the sovereign government of Russia, with an eye towards another “regime change,” continue apace. Nuland, in a remarkably candid response to a question from perhaps the Senate’s leading advocate of “regime change,” Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, said the State Department not only works with the Soros-funded Open Russia, it works side-by-side with Russian “journalists who have fled” Russia.

Endless ‘Regime Change’

This points to what is the de facto policy towards not only Russia, but towards any government which finds itself in America’s crosshairs: work relentlessly to undermine the legitimacy of that government, with the ultimate aim of overthrowing it.

President Barack Obama talks with advisers, including National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice and Secretary of State John Kerry, prior to meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel in the Oval Office, Nov. 9, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama talks with advisers, including National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice and Secretary of State John Kerry, prior to meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel in the Oval Office, Nov. 9, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Can there be any doubt this is so in light of the “dissent memo” which was sent by 51 State Department officials this week? According to the New York Times, the memo urged Secretary of State John Kerry and President Barack Obama “to carry out military strikes against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.”

What these American diplomats are, in effect, calling for is a policy which would lead to a war with Russia, would kill greater numbers of civilians, would sunder the Geneva peace process, and would result in greater gains for the radical Sunnis “rebels” who are the principal opponents of the Assad regime.

But these diplomats, heedless of the costs or likely ramifications of their preferred policy, feel the U.S. simply must unleash the dogs of war so that they can feel better about themselves for having done “something.”

The dual policies of isolating and provoking Russia and endless war in the Near East is the predictable yet natural outgrowth of American foreign policy as it has been pursued since 1950.

Searching for a post-World War Two rationale on which to base American policy in the aftermath of perceived Soviet aggression in Greece and Turkey, President Harry Truman’s National Security Council issued NSC-68. The brainchild of former Wall Street wunderkind turned uber-hawkish policy adviser Paul Nitze, NSC-68 might correctly be viewed at the original sin of the America’s postwar foreign policy.

According to the policy directive, the U.S. must “foster a fundamental change in the nature of the Soviet system … foster the seeds of destruction within the Soviet system … with a view to fomenting and supporting unrest and revolution in selected strategic satellite countries” all with an eye toward reducing “the power and influence in the Kremlin inside the Soviet Union.”

Sound familiar? Substitute the word “Soviet” with “Russia” or even “Syria” and we have the template for America’s more recent imperial adventures. Worryingly, as we approach the November presidential elections, there seems not an ounce of interest inside the Washington establishment for a new approach.

James W Carden is a contributing writer for The Nation and editor of The American Committee for East-West Accord’s He previously served as an advisor on Russia to the Special Representative for Global Inter-governmental Affairs at the US State Department. 

25 comments for “Neocons Scheme for More ‘Regime Change’

  1. Ernest Martinson
    June 25, 2016 at 18:56

    Eternal regime change makes for job security for the national security establishment. President Truman’s National Security Council called for change and destruction of the Soviet system. Substitute Russia, Syria, Iran, Ukraine, etc. and the call for change continues. Sorry to say I cannot list the US in the list calling for regime change. The US stays the course due to its two-party duopoly.

  2. Stenka Razinova
    June 22, 2016 at 09:17

    It is not really regime change. It is change from regime to chaos. Globalist perception is that chaos is easy to control. But resulting chaos outcome is far more dangerous than any regime.

  3. A. Wizard
    June 20, 2016 at 08:09

    Wellesley Womans College produced no wizards since HILLARY RODHAM.

  4. Kozmo
    June 20, 2016 at 00:32

    Until the Americans at last get a real bloody nose through their bellicose follies, or a taste of what war on the homefront is truly like, I can’t see this idiotic and immoral adventurism ending.

  5. Vivek Jain
    June 19, 2016 at 09:16

    What about the February 1948 memo by Kennan, the PPS23, in which Kennan expressed how the imperialist ruling class really thinks. His comments about Russian domination are also interesting

  6. Realist
    June 19, 2016 at 07:31

    Just what does the United States anticipate happening in all of these countries that we invade in order to effect regime change? Sure, our leaders have deluded themselves into thinking that we now control the shots in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Ukraine and elsewhere, but we have really only transformed these places into anarchic hell-holes under a worse form of authoritarianism. Now we are doing our damnedest to repeat the process in Syria. If this is saving the world from “Russian aggression,” someone please release the wolfhounds. It will take these societies generations to return to normality, and they can all blame the United States for their common misery. If some day the world court orders reparations be paid by the responsible party for all the damage and deaths, Uncle Sam will properly go broke.

  7. June 18, 2016 at 17:40

    The regime change strategy has never worked without some military input. The sanctions policy as directed toward Saddam and Iraq over a number of years caused the deaths of some 500,000 children, – well worth it according to the sage Madeline Albright – yet in the final analysis it took a war to oust him. Unless the US is prepared for a military confrontation with Russia the regime change strategy is unlikely to succeed.

    Moreover, even if Putin was ousted, it is by no means certain that he would be replaced with some Yeltsin-style regime eager and willing to surrender Russia to the Anglo-Zionist empire and do its bidding. As for Russian liberals, they cannot pass the 5% threshold vote for Parliamentary representation and are basically an irrelevant Quisling clique with little or no public support. The real opposition to Putin comes from the Communists on the left and the Nationalists on the right who take a much harder line on the provocations of NATO/US than Putin. Currently the Russian government is based upon the ‘United Russia’ party which has some 45% of the seats in Parliament. This is not a popular government, however, even though Putin as President seems unassailable. Parliamentary elections in Russia take place later on in the year, and it will be interesting to see the result. If the US is looking for a fight, then it will certainly get it, if, it keeps up its war games in eastern Europe, and if, as seems increasingly possible, hardliners like Zyuganov, Prokhanov, Zhirinovsky, Glazyev, and the new Rasputin, Dugin come to power.

    Every provocation by the US/NATO increases this possibility. Like the Irish poet – W.B.Yeats – said in ”The Second Coming”

    ”Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.”

    The last two lines say everything.

    Too many people who should know better are not speaking out against what is little more than a death wish, but seemconcerned with the career prospects.

    Whilst the neo-con lunatics are certainly full of passionate intensity.

    Dangerous times.

    • Erik
      June 19, 2016 at 07:30

      Very good points. Many other good comments here also.

      That “regime change strategy has never worked without some military input” is true only because it is a strategy of “regime change” rather than progress, based on the assumption that others must be tricked and forced rather than educated to demand better government.

      That “people who should know better are not speaking out against …the neo-con …full of passionate intensity” is due both to the usual intensity of the fanatic (who patches together a few simple ideas to avoid thinking) versus the cautiously wise, and it is due to the corruption of mass media and elections by money, which tyrannizes and excludes from “public debate” those who care for truth and justice. Of course truth is very troubling and complex to find, while justice is complex and slow to achieve.

      This is why I argue for a fourth branch of government to analyze and debate the issues, protecting all viewpoints, with checks and balances upon the others. The executive branch makes policy regardless of its lack of constitutional powers to do so, while Congress has never been able to debate issues due to demagoguery. A College of policy analysis can conduct fair, deep, inclusive textual debates, and at least make these available to embarrass fools and educate those who care for truth and justice. It can be the mind of society, so clearly lacking in government as it stands.

      • J'hon Doe II
        June 19, 2016 at 18:31

        Erik — “This is why I argue for a fourth branch of government to analyze and debate the issues”

        There is a “forth branch” of Gov’t

        the Hoover Institution,
        the Heritage Foundation,
        the American Enterprise Institute,
        the Manhattan Institute,
        the National Association of Scholars,
        The New Criterion,
        the Koch Brothers,
        and more.

  8. Madhu
    June 18, 2016 at 14:59

    And thanks to the author for the discussion about NSC-68. We had to take on the post colonial role of the old European empires and go about meddling here there and everywhere. No wonder all those coindinista generals, intellectuals and coindinista inflected diplomats had such a thing for the British Empire (neocons, too). They really love the proconsul lording above other people feel.

    How did that happen?

    • Erik
      June 19, 2016 at 07:11

      The desire to effect some positive change via aid is not bad in itself, but is easily corrupted with equivocations that if aid is from the US it is necessarily “progressive” and “supports democracy” even where the opposite is clearly true. The young volunteer, grad student, or careerist is given support and the claim that those are the goals of the agency, and any questioning is excoriated as an attack on principles of justice. The newbie is impressed with the buildings and personalities of Washington, and knows that, after all, he/she cannot yet know better from experience. Then the agency leaders do whatever they please with no more than occasional claims to the shared principles. Doubts of those who value truth and justice become troubled reflections, while the usual run of hypocrites become more flexible morally as family and career become more dependent upon group approval. Finally the good drop out or are pressured out, while the hypocrite becomes the passionate trickster defending the “best of all possible worlds.”

      The love of power is inversely proportionate to its deprivation by organizational anonymity, procedural career activity, awareness of the proximity of the powerful, etc.

      • Madhu
        June 20, 2016 at 10:30

        Good comment.

  9. Madhu
    June 18, 2016 at 14:52

    Thanks, good article.

    But these diplomats, heedless of the costs or likely ramifications of their preferred policy, feel the U.S. simply must unleash the dogs of war so that they can feel better about themselves for having done “something.”

    – from the article.

    It’s like a cult or something, and if you say the wrong thing or don’t play along, you are an outcast. I assume younger and non-militarist folk are being pressured to toe the line or no conference talks, think tank appointments, government appointments, calls back, social shunning, etc.

    What a town, DC.

    I will never forget that rubber chicken book lunch for Madeleine Albright I attended about a decade ago, sponsored by some womans’ groups and local universities. That weird event solidified my desire to leave that particular corner of the Blob. Well, my area wasn’t as cultish and not as hard to break from. It was a relief to get out and breathe free.

    Cults are hard to break free from, it seems, with the exception of brave souls like Ann Wright. Brava!

    It’s odd, but that event in a way previewed Hillary Clinton and the white feminism of privilege stuff she’s peddling (or maybe really believes) on her way to the white house. Feminism is breaking the glass ceiling for a select group within a select world for select ends for some of her followers, not the messy human contradictory diverse working toward equality that is more my take on it (and a lot of younger feminists, to judge by the support for candidates that are not Hillary).

    Activism is now the highest form of human attainment in the west, and activism means that feelings matter more than reason and thinking things through. So maybe this is why so many young people with activist bents are attracted to DC war mongering or social engineering via aid. The aid is not what other want, but what DC thinks another country needs to become different, social change via aid within a society that is not even your own. So even the non-warmongers in DC are kinda weird.

    Well, that isn’t right. Activists are important, but you know what I mean, our popular culture is in love with the celebrity Samantha Power activist. Why do so many young DC wanna-bediplomat types want to be professional brown person or foreign person wranglers? What weird psychology is that?

  10. Anthony Shaker
    June 18, 2016 at 13:33

    Thank you for your insight. But I think, Mr. Carden from The Nation, that perhaps you should apply the same logic to Israel. He could write at least one piece or make one mention concerning where the story of that Jewish-only race colony is headed as it swallows up the rest of historic Palestine alive, as one former US ambassador recently put it. Or is that asking too much from a conscientious “progressive”?

    This is not a game, so let us try to head off the looming catastrophe, even if this train headed to nowhere still has no conductor!

    • Peter Loeb
      June 19, 2016 at 09:06


      Anthony Shaker is on the money. Not to support the basic concepts of
      Zionism (colonization for Jews only based on 1. pan-Germanic
      definition of race priority 2. a scheme by Herzl and others which
      exploits fears of Jews with a cure- all( emigration to Palestine)
      which would permit Jews to live healthy lives for a millions of years
      3. illusions of Jewish power (aided and abetted by Herzl and
      other Zionist leaders) 4. ultimately the marriage of this
      arrogant selfish love of your own “race” to the exclusion of
      all others , especially the Arabs who not incidentally once lived
      in Palestine (before Zionist invasion, dispossession etc.).

      In many varieties the brutality against all others in the
      name of Zionism became a sine qua non. How similar
      in many respects has violent and exclusivist Zionism
      been to the mystic fascist revolution. (The National
      Socialists wanted to exclude and exterminate Jews–and others—
      while Zionists want to exterminate Arabs. In the
      fascist revolution a mystic belief in ancient
      (male) gods and warriors was sanctified. In
      current Israel this santification is based
      on interpretations of the Torah.

      So who is intolerant???

      Three resources:

      1. Joyce and Gabriel Kolko: THE LIMITS OF POWER

      2.Michael Prior CM: THE BIBLE AND COLONIALISM: A

      3. George L. Mosse: THE FASCIST REVOLUTION

      —Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

      • Anthony Shaker
        June 20, 2016 at 09:23

        Thanks, Peter. I understand what you’re saying. Still, if I may, I would like to add something about Zionism and the ultra-nationalisms (pan-Slavism and pan-Germanism) that raged in Europe starting in the late nineteenth century. The chief aim of the ultra-nationalist movements in eastern and southeastern Europe was twofold: to invent nationhood and to exterminate the indigenous Muslim populations, hundreds of thousands of whom began to be murdered in Bulgaria in the 1890s. Most of the European Muslims had to flee to Turkey (where Turks of eastern European descent make up roughly a third of the population), Syria and Egypt. Only Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania and pockets here and there survived. Because Muslims were very populous (large cities like Belgrade were Muslim majority), they could not all be eliminated.

        Today the brunt of the punishment for terrorism that Trump, Clinton and Obama and others want to inflict want is being borne by Muslims again. I say, just leave the Islamic world alone before the whole world falls apart.

        Getting back to our subject, although pan-Germanism and early Zionism reared their ugly heads and started to interact in this climate, Nazism was not just another ultra-nationalism. Hitler was very clear about his source of inspiration, as were the pseudo-intellectuals (like Eichmann in his journal) who gathered around the Nazi regime. In Mein Kampf, he states very clearly that there is one thing he admired about the “Jews”: their race consciousness.

        This of course is the invented Jew of Europe, and whatever you or I may think about Jewish beliefs, what Hitler had in mind was the “eternal Jew” of bible criticism, a Christian genre that emerged in the early modern period with the interpretation of the Old Testament. I think it cannot be said often enough that this pseudo-Christian Zionism was the source of the Zionism which ultimately overwhelmed Jewish communities in the West and in America after WWII. Zionism is not even Jewish per se, but a literalist perversion of Judaism.

        I have found only a couple of medieval textual sources from Spain dating from the Islamic period there that refer to anything resembling a literal return to Zion by the Jews as the Chosen People returning to their “promised land.” And both sources were considered outlandish and out of place by most Jewish scholars then. Zionism is not just modern. As a national expression it also dates no further than World War Two and its immediate aftermath.

        But while Jewish Zionism is the offspring of pseudo-Christian Zionism, let us be clear: it is also the ideological ancestor of Hitlerian Nazism. There is not even a doubt about this historical filiation, since it is exactly what Nazi leaders and intellectuals of any note themselves said repeatedly. It is exactly what they practiced, too, when they began to replace local Jewish coiuncils with Zionists and collaborated with the Zionist movement to deport Europe’s Jews to Palestine.

        To be sure, this was also tactical. They were interested in undermining the British in Palestine. But the ideological connection is very obvious in the praise they regularly heaped on Zionism and its “correctness.” Zionists used to identify those Jewish leaders that had to be arrested by the Nazi authorites, and they carried out well-known assassinations of Jews in broad daylight in Germany, Hungary and other occupied countries. None were ever arrested for these murders.

        Zionists today claim that all this had to be done “to save Jewish lives.” But they actually destroyed European Jewry “to save lives,” just like the Saudi-sponsored Wahhabi terrorists in Syria are destroying Syria to save it from “Assad the tyrant” and destroying Islam everywhere else to save it from “impurity.” And just like the US army used to destroy Vietnamese villages in order to save them from the Commies.

        The work of the devil is always the same: self-destruction.

        While we can sit back and make fine moral distinctions based on hindsight, it remains an unforgivable historical fact that Zionists have Jewish blood on their hands. The danger is that they are leading their people to further tragedy. I just wanted this writer and others with progressive credentials to show us what wonderful world they envision.

        • J'hon Doe II
          June 21, 2016 at 12:34

          Kudos, Anthony Shaker, for many of your clarifications.

          May I recommend; —

        • J'hon Doe II
          June 21, 2016 at 12:45

          “I just wanted this writer and others with progressive credentials to show us what wonderful world they envision.”-Anthony Shaker
          OMINOUS !!!!!!

          WASHINGTON, D.C. 20506

          April 24, 1974

          National Security Study Memorandum 200

          TO: The Secretary of Defense
          The Secretary of Agriculture
          The Director of Central Intelligence
          The Deputy Secretary of State
          Administrator, Agency for International Development

          SUBJECT: Implications of Worldwide Population Growth for U.S.
          Security and Overseas Interests

          The President has directed a study of the impact of world popula-
          tion growth on U.S. security and overseas interests. The study
          should look forward at least until the year 2000, and use several
          alternative reasonable projections of population growth.

          In terms of each projection, the study should assess:

          – the corresponding pace of development, especially in poorer

          – the demand for US exports, especially of food, and the trade
          problems the US may face arising from competition for re-
          sources; and

          – the likelihood that population growth or imbalances will
          produce disruptive foreign policies and international insta-

          The study should focus on the international political and economic
          implications of population growth rather than its ecological, socio-
          logical or other aspects.

          The study would then offer possible courses of action for the United
          States in dealing with population matters abroad, particularly in
          developing countries, with special attention to these questions:

          – What, if any, new initiatives by the United States are needed
          to focus international attention on the population problem?

          – Can technological innovations or development reduce
          growth or ameliorate its effects?

          – Could the United States improve its assistance in the popu-
          lation field and if so, in what form and through which agen-
          cies — bilateral, multilateral, private?

          The study should take into account the President’s concern that
          population policy is a human concern intimately related to the
          dignity of the individual and the objective of the United States is to
          work closely with others, rather than seek to impose our views on

          The President has directed that the study be accomplished by the
          NSC Under Secretaries Committee. The Chairman, Under Secre-
          taries Committee, is requested to forward the study together with
          the Committee’s action recommendations no later than May 29,
          1974 for consideration by the President.


  11. Joe Tedesky
    June 18, 2016 at 13:05

    So it would appear that Bibi Netanyahu does have the last word after all. Harry Truman also recognized the state of Israel, for what’s that worth. I recently came upon the remarkable 1856 Guano Island Act, and was amazed at it’s arrogant attitude towards how America views the rest of the world. I swear hegemony is in our American DNA. I also have some hope, if only very little, that future generations of Americans may change this dastardly course we have set our nation on, and change it quickly. The planet deserves that much.

    • Bill Bodden
      June 18, 2016 at 15:15

      I swear hegemony is in our American DNA

      Unfortunately, Joe, the driving forces behind the US push for a global empire also exist in almost every other nation. They just don’t have the economic and military power that the US has to abuse the planet, including the US.

      • Joe Tedesky
        June 18, 2016 at 16:11

        I know it’s a historical virus.

      • Antoni
        June 23, 2016 at 03:36

        That is a false and simply an attempt to claim “They would do it too, but can’t”. In reality, most other nations and their populations do not think that way, and are not born into the mantra of exceptionalism like americans are.

    • June 24, 2016 at 02:47

      Truman the quasi-jew,who took a suitcase of money to recognize the terror state called Israel,James Forresal was murdered because he foresaw the future of such a anti-american alliance, and the rest is HISTORY!

  12. Bill Bodden
    June 18, 2016 at 13:03

    Unlike wars of the first half of the 20th Century and before when noblesse oblige required the sons of warmongers to serve in the front lines, current warmongers are mostly chickenhawks who have never served in war zones and will ensure their progeny will be given some safe assignment in the unlikely event they don a uniform.

    • WTFU
      June 22, 2016 at 23:28

      More blah blah blah analysis by the article’s author.
      Needless to say? Nary a word about ZIONISM- which is the entire crux of the matter

Comments are closed.