Monday, September 25, 2006

My Enemy's Enemy Is Not Always My Friend

Imagine a president who is possessed of a singular vision, a man who believes the world to be in the grip of a battle between the forces of good and evil. This president is so certain of his rightness that he employs biblical language to describe this fight and his tongue often evades the diplomatic conventions of global politics when discussing his enemies. Some have alleged that this president has whipped up fear of his enemy at home for cynical reasons of power, and while many in the chattering classes dismiss him as an idiot he has managed to see off all challengers at the polls. On the domestic front, this president uses the forces of populism to overwhelm constitutional checks and balances. Abroad he alternates between checkbook diplomacy and cuddling up to odious dictators in order to further his foreign policy and economic aims. His government has encouraged union busting and is accused of tampering with electoral rolls in order to manipulate the results of elections. Finally, this president and his administration were widely blamed for inadequate preparations and delayed relief efforts when a massive natural disaster hit one of the poorest parts of his country.

Step forward, Hugo Chavez. Oh, and while in the army Chavez also attempted a coup in 1992 in an effort to overthrow the demcratically elected president (an attempt to end Venezuela's tradition since 1958 of democratic, civillian government). It might have been a good thing then that Bush dodged the draft.

I don't expect much from any politician of any stripe. I certainly don't expect them to be perfect. It does pain me however that anyone of even the vaguest left wing stripe who opposes Bush on the international stage is lauded as a hero despite their own rather serious shortcomings. A dictatorship of the proletariat is still a dictatorship, and history suggests that the proletariat still gets the shaft even when people govern in their name. This hugging of every rascal who emerges from the opposite pole from whichever right wing bastard du jour occupies our corridors of power doesn't suggest international solidarity but rather a pathetic schoolgirl crush on the part of my fellow oppositionists here in the United States. Yes, Chavez has made some wonderful gestures like subsidized heating oil, and he seems to be achieving much through his missiones in regards to literacy and mortality rates at home in Venezuela. I am however at a loss to understand how in the face of howls of protest against President Bush's assault on what we regard as our fundamental political rights we can embrace a man who seems intent on shredding Venezuela's democratic process in the name of peace, stability, and prosperity. In the first half of the last century people who offered populism, economic insulation, and security at the expense of democracy were men like Stalin, Hoxa, Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco. I don't subscribe to that feverish fringe who insist inanely on comparing every dictator or strongman to Hitler but perhaps the Mussolini comparison might bear examination. I don't expect organized extermination in Venezuela but I don't think forced ingestion of castor oil and club wielding thugs are out of the question.

What I'm really doing is making a plea to my fellow leftists. By all means giggle when Chavez calls Bush names (although you do shudder when Bush resorts to the ethics of the playground); we have all called him worse in the comfort of our own homes (hello, NSA). Point out the philanthropic example of Venezuelan owned oil company Citgo to our more parsimonious American fuel pushers (or better yet, encourage the state to offer biofuel assistance). Mock those politicians who have nothing better to do than attack Chavez for calling Bush "el diablo" and tell them to keep their hands off the Citgo sign; instead encourage them to encourage him to respect the rule of law the same way we angrily insist that Mr. Bush and his coven should.

Politics is not a zero sum game; my enemy's enemy is not always my friend. If we continue to apply such inconsistent standards in the name of false ideological comfort we will have nobody but ourselves to blame when like Orwell's farm animals we peek through the window at our leaders or champions and find that "“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

This is why I don't believe in having heroes. Everybody's feet are made of clay, and some people's tootsies are more terracotta than others.


Mondale said...

Good Words Weasel.

Anonymous said...

nicely put:)

Anonymous said...

c'mon weasel, anyone who has the balls to call bush the devil at the UN deserves some respect. what ever is going on in venezuela, it cant be much worse than whats happening here.

weasel said...

Anonymous, like I said, I don't think the devil thing is offensive; add a couple of "fucks" and you have Don Rickles up there, and I love Don Rickles.

But as for "what ever is going on in venezuela, it cant be much worse than whats happening here"; shouldn't it be even a little better if we want to like the guy? He's a guilty of crap government as Bush, he just directs his comedy at targets we find funny. I'm sure Bush has an audience out there for his bon mots too. Too bad finding real solutions to pressing political problems isn't a matter of whether we prefer Larry the Cable Guy or David Cross.

Weasel's little bruva said...

Too true...where do we draw the line when it comes to ignoring the failings of Bush's insultors. If we are Ok with Chavez despite his record in Venezuela just because he insults Bush, then should we be applauding Omar al-Bashir for his anti Bush stance at the same UN meeting?