Looking over the last 35 years of history, I want to make the following proposal: the Dictator Retirement Island.
Here is how it works. The US puts a sum of money in a Swiss account for the dictator. The US moves dictator to a lush island complete with lavish lifestyle complete with personal performances from US pop stars (this seems to be a very popular activity for both dictators and US singers). The US guards the dictator from vengeful rebel groups, human rights organizations, threats if extradition, etc. In exchange the dictator gives up power and allows the US to impose an interim Constitution and supervise free elections.
It used to be that deposed kings/emperors/strong men could find a home in exile somewhere. The promise of exile probably helped prevent scorched-Earth battles by dictators who know that loss of power will mean torture and death. The German Kaiser lived in exile for 20 years in the Netherlands after WWI.
- A whole lot cheaper than military action -- the first 10 minutes of our involvement in Libya when we launched a bunch of cruise missiles cost over $100 million.
- Saves a lot of lives, both citizens and US military
- Increases frequency of positive regime changes
- To say the least, monetary rewards heaped on ruthless dictators are fairly unsatisfying
- Ticks off human rights groups. More importantly, ticks off rebel groups in home country (even giving medical care in US to deposed Shah was a huge problem for Iranian rebels)
- Many still might not accept, even when backed into a wall. It's the power that is compelling, not just the money and lifestyle, and most dictators are really good at denying reality