-- From Donald J. Trump's presidential nomination acceptance speech to the Republican National Convention on July 21, 2016. (Complete text here)
He left Ukraine off the list. And of course the policy was directed by President Barack Obama; Hillary Clinton simply pushed it during her term as secretary of state. However, regime change was applied by Washington administrations long before Obama became president. The policy, which should have become a relic of the Cold War, was spruced up after 9/11 by the administration of George W. Bush under the rubric "Democracy Doctrine." The doctrine became the thin excuse for U.S.-led NATO attempts to destabilize the Russian government and remove any foreign government administration that Bush and Obama wanted to replace with a more malleable one.
The greatest drawback to this interventionist approach is by now starkly evident to any person well-informed about foreign affairs. There was little penalty during the Cold War for the United States for botched regime-change initiatives. Today the penalties are very severe. That's because of the way things work in the present era:
> In a large, complex government such as the American one, external alliances are today typically multi-directional; i.e., a government can be juggling scores of external relations focused on defense, trade, the international monetary system, etc.
>This produces factions in the government that specialize in relationships with one or more of the alliances.
>Because of siloing of information it is perfectly possible for a number of factions in the same administration to be blindly working at cross-purposes -- a sure-fire way to produce disasters.
Add the speed with which target governments can respond today to interventions and the complexity of their own factions, and the upshot of regime change is now invariably mayhem. The mayhem can quickly engulf entire regions and fall back hard on the government doing the intervention, and in unforeseen ways.
In short, regime change needs to be relegated to history's trash pile. Last night Donald Trump not only clearly stated he recognizes this, he also indicated that he understood the necessity for ending the policy quickly. On just those points alone Trump would get my vote.