With the (probable) collapse of Moammar K-Daffy’s regime in Libya, I am reminded of an idea I had a while ago that I thought would be very useful: a policy of offering deals to endangered dictators.
Here’s how I would propose it: suppose we have a dictator who is facing a major challenge to their regime. (Bashar Assad, the Dorktator of Syria, would be the best current example; Saddam Hussein and K-Daffy would be past ones.) The US, backed by our allies, would quietly approach the dictator and say:
“You’re in trouble. We have an offer for you. We’ll arrange transportation for you, your family, and your top aides to a willing host country of your choice, and allow you to haul off a hefty hunk of money. We’ll guarantee your safety and immunity from any prosecution. You just have to go quietly — and not trash anything on your way out. Especially your records. And for the rest of your life, you stay out of any kind of politics — especially back in your homeland. You do, and the immunity is off.”
In Assad’s case, we’d let him loot his nation for, say, a billion dollars and scamper off to North Korea. We’d not prosecute him for his crimes, and we’d let him take off with his family and top people. And as long as he stayed quiet, didn’t cause any trouble, we’d let him get away with it.
The advantages here are simple: a peaceful transition from the tyranny. That means no fighting in the streets, no massacres, and a hugely reduced body count. Further, the bureaucratic infrastructure of the nation stays intact — the chaos that always follows a revolution is minimized. This greatly increases the chances that the nation in question can quickly establish a new government.
The price, of course, is that the dictator “gets away with it.” Not only do they not face justice for their crimes, but they also get a hunk of money, too.
But, to me, it beats the alternative. When these dictators start losing their grip on power, things often get very ugly. And once that happens, they literally have no way out — they know that they either win, they die, or they spend years awaiting trial and imprisonment. And there’s nothing more dangerous than an enemy backed into a corner — Sun Tzu advises that never leave an enemy no escape route, unless you’re prepared to utterly destroy them.
Will this work? I dunno. But I think that it’s worth a try.