I don’t believe that sanctions are good enough, although, as I have said, the Iranian regime is so hollow it could crash at any time. At my advanced age, I still don’t believe I have seen an oppressive regime fall because life in its land had become unbearable.
Look around the world, and pick your favorite failed dictatorship. My short list runs from Pyongyang to Caracas, via Tehran and Havana. They are all under sanctions. Their people are miserable, and detest the regime. In some places, there are demonstrations, even huge ones. Yet, from North Korea to Venezuela, the regime isn’t headed for the exits. It cracks down. In some places, such as Venezuela and Iran, the people continue to demonstrate and call for regime change. In others, like Cuba and Iran, there is bitter silence. Yet the oppressive regimes impose their will.
In the modern world there are no end of uprisings and attempted revolutions, most all of which fail. The most recent batch constituted the “Arab Spring,” which did indeed produce the downfall of a handful of dictators, but not the democratic revolution so many believed was under way. Now we see wobbly Latin American dictators—Ortega, Maduro—but no revolution. Indeed, in the old Soviet Empire, leaders like Orban are openly advocating anti-liberal and even anti-democratic alternatives to the Western model.
So what does it take to produce serious, successful, viable regime change?
I believe that regime change is a political event caused by political passion, not economic misery. Those of us who studied the French, American and Russian revolutions were taught that the revolutions broke out when the economy was improving. The same may be said for fascism and Naziism