Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Metablogging Venezuela

by Ken Houghton

I've watched silently as several Econ blogs have wandered into politics long enough to take shots at Hugo Chavez over the past few days, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

It finally has, as Boz points out the obvious:
If the [US-proposed] OAS resolution [regarding censorship in Venezuela] doesn't pass or get publicly debated, this is why. The Bush administration goes after Chavez hard while treating Musharraf, a leader with far less democratic legitimacy, with kid gloves. Can you blame other countries for thinking that US criticism is based on political alliances and not political ideals? Can we really ask allies like Chile and Brazil to step up and defend democracy in Venezuela if the US supports authoritarians like Musharraf?

The understatement of "far less democratic legitimacy" cannot be emphasized enough.

So, really, I'm recapitulating Randy Paul at Beautiful Horizons:
What Boz said here. Every word.

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Sure, some of that is based on politics. But if you don't absolutely revile what Chavez has done to the people of his country and if you don't recognize that what he's got going on is a nascent dictatorship, then you yourself are very much guilty of giving him the benefit of the doubt based on politics as well: he's been squealing "Bush is EEEEEEE-vil!!!" and you've latched on.

Musharraf is the next in a long line of oppressors. Chavez is taking a country that was, until recently, free, and is bending it into an ice-cold dictatorship. That's the difference.
Just speaking for myself, I don't need Chavez to tell me Bush is evil, and I don't support his arrogation of dictatorial powers any more than I do, say, Bush's or Putin's.

I don't think the issue here is giving Chavez the benefit of the doubt. It's more that I (and maybe Ken) would stake a positive sum of money that were Chavez a right-wing corporatist figure with dictatorial ambitions, he'd be the bestest buddy of the Bushies in South America.
What Tom Said. (Though if you're not giving him the benefit of the doubt on the oil nationalisation, you have to explain any favoritism of Dubai, where there are no taxes solely because the government owns said revenues.)

Musharraf, otoh, is feted as a Loyal Allay in the War on Terror--despite that he runs one of the two countries most prone to shelter and breed anti-US terrorists. (Iraq probably replaces Saudi Arabia as the second soon, as the bases have been emptied in SA and are being built in Iraq.)

If the goal were really security--and I say this as one who travels through Penn Station, Times Square, and Grand Central Station on a regular basis--our State Department wouldn't be feting "Pakistani people and the Pakistani government" as if they were working in tandem.
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