Sunday, March 12, 2006
Finding monsters to destroyOne of the risks of spending over half the military budget of the entire world, as the US currently does, is that we need to find menaces to justify all that expense and effort. I've really never quite understood why our war managers have such a hard-on for the Chavez regime in Venezuela. It doesn't sound very threatening to me.
But then Al Qaeda wasn't in Iraq, either, until the Bush administration made it possible by its blustering and blundering foreign policy.
Col. Alexander Crowther is fretting about this in the op-ed for the March 2006 Newsletter of the US Army's Strategic Studies Institue, The Return of the Latin American Left. Most of his piece is pretty temperate-sounding. He notes that left-leaning governments are coming to power in democratic elections because of popular dissatisfaction with right-leaning governments that hewed to the Washington Consensus of "neoliberal" development.
This sounds pretty reasonable:
The effects will differ from country to country. Milder forms of leftist rule, such as those of Lula in Brazil, will be moderately successful. More outrageous forms of populism, such as those of Chavez in Venezuela, eventually will fail, brought low by their own internal contradictions, notably corruption and inefficiency. Those leaders that succeed will be reelected. Those that fail will be voted out, if democracy continues to be their political system."Internal contradictions" - a good Marxist phrase, that.
This is how a democratic system is supposed to work. The people elect representatives. These representatives are then rated by how well they have done. Their future depends on their success. If they fail, they are replaced by someone different who might be able to do the job.But then he trots out the Chavez bogeyman:
Unfortunately, some populist leaders such as Chavez and others tolerate violence in the streets. This violence is at times orchestrated against their opponents and sometimes tolerated because these leaders are unwilling to defend the rule of law. This lack of respect for opponents and willingness to use violence continue to cause problems, delegitimizing democratic authority and governance.Uh, dude, it was the United States and Spain that backed the Venezuelan opposition in a misfired coup attempt in 2002. And the elections that have been held since Chavez first became president have been certify as fair and democratic by neutral observers, including the Carter Center.
Don't we have enough problems in extricating ourselves from the Iraq War, and also with an ongoing and very inconclusive war in Afghanistan? Do we need to conjure up imaginary threats in every oil-rich country in the world?
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No subject for immortal verse
That we who lived by honest dreams
Defend the bad against the worse."
-- Cecil Day-Lewis from Where Are The War Poets?
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