In this decade, fostering democratic regime change in Iraq is the great challenge (or folly) before American foreign policymakers. In the previous decade, fostering democratic regime change in Russia was the great challenge (or folly) before American foreign policymakers. For much longer and with much greater capacity than Saddam Hussein's regime, the Soviet regime threatened the United States. The destruction of the Soviet regime and the construction of a pro-Western, democratic regime in its place, therefore, was a major objective of America foreign policy. Some presidents pursued this goal more vigorously than others: Nixon cared less, Reagan more.
Almost twenty years after Mikhail Gorbachev became General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and soon thereafter began the process of political change inside the USSR, it is still not clear what kind of regime will eventually consolidate in Russia. To date, however, the influence of the United States in fostering regime change inside the Soviet and then Russia has been limited. This paper explores the causes and consequences of US efforts at regime change in the Soviet Union and contemporary Russia.