Foreign Policy

By the Power of Caracas, I Have the Power!

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Were you worried that Hugo Chavez's power wasn't increasing daily? Hey, relax!

The National Assembly has given initial approval to a measure that would let President Hugo Chavez enact laws by decree for 1 1/2 years, a key step in what the leftist leader calls an accelerating march toward socialism.

"This process is unstoppable," lawmaker Juan Montenegro Nunez told the National Assembly. "This process is a historic necessity."

I nominate "This process is unstoppable" for the title of track 3 on the next Chemical Brothers album. But seriously, Venezuela has one of the stupidest oppositions on the planet (they boycotted the last legislative elections to make a point about how Chavez didn't respect democracy), and this was predictable months ago. The upsides: 1) He still shouldn't cause any Americans to worry outside of the Fox News production booth. 2) With the price of oil falling, this reads like desperation. Chavez was at his most popular when oil was trading at $80.

More on Chavez here.

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  1. Leader from oil-rich state convinced that he can unilaterally expand executive power?

    Inconceivable!

  2. Oh, I forgot the obligatory response to:
    But seriously, Venezuela has one of the stupidest oppositions on the planet

    Dayvid Weigal is shilling for Chavez!

  3. let President Hugo Chavez enact laws by decree for 1 1/2 years, a key step in what the leftist leader calls an accelerating march toward socialism.

    You rarely see leftists making the connection between socialism and dictatorship so clearly.

  4. We need another Pinochet to thin out their ranks a little.

    (With apologies to Bart Simpson….)

  5. The upsides: 1) He still shouldn’t cause any Americans to worry outside of the Fox News production booth. 2) With the price of oil falling, this reads like desperation. Chavez was at his most popular when oil was trading at $80.

    Problem is, once oil prices drop too low to support the current “socialism”, what will Chavez do?
    He may not be as popular as he was at $80/gal, but that doesn’t seem to stop him in the slightest…

  6. You have to admit that Chavez’ speech at the UN where he called Bush, “El Diablo” and said that he could still, “smell the sulfur in the air” in the wake of Bush’s speech was pretty funny.

    It looks like Chavez is just trying to fill Castro’s shoes when Fidel joins Che in that big Revolucion in the sky.

  7. when Fidel joins Che in that big Revolucion in the sky

    I’m pretty sure Fidel will be launching his next revolution from the basement, not the sky…

  8. Chavez was at his most popular when oil was trading at $80.

    I’m no psychic but I’m willing to bet that the price of oil could easily top $80 again. At which point America will discover some sort of “imminent threat” in Venezuela and commence with our usual meddling with predictable results.

  9. He is just pissed he is only a junior member of the axis of evil. But there is hope, if he keeps kissing Ahmadinejad’s ass and funding leftist terrorists all over Latin America, he just might warrent the Saddam treatment.

  10. Rywyun,

    From what I have been reading in a few years it might not matter what the price of oil is. Thanks to nationalization and cronyism, the Venezuelans may not be able to pump much their oil out of the ground before too long. The oil will still be there, they will just be too stupid and corrupt to get it out of the ground and sell it. Really.

  11. “Problem is, once oil prices drop too low to support the current “socialism”, what will Chavez do?
    He may not be as popular as he was at $80/gal, but that doesn’t seem to stop him in the slightest…”

    Long as doesn’t preemptively invade some country that didn’t attack him based a nonexistent WMD threat, he’ll always be just an annoying bloviating gnat for me.

    Thank God he’s around though, otherwise we’d have one less boogeyman around to haunt neocon nightmares. Hell, we might have to start paying attention to a more dangerous threat closer to home.

  12. Of course the failure of Venezuela to invest in its oil industry will not only help oil go back to $80 and beyind, it will ensure that Venezuela reaps as few benefits from that rise as possible

  13. Wayne,
    I thought the el diablo speech was an embarrassment for Chavez. Had he done it on, say, Mind of Mencia or upon some other more appropriate stage, it might have flown. At the UN it was pure cartoon nonsense, kinda like John Bolton. For him it was a lost opportunity to prove that he’s a quasi-dictator to be taken seriously.

  14. He still shouldn’t cause any Americans to worry outside of the Fox News production booth.

    i’m confused by this. are you saying Americans shouldn’t worry about (or sympathize with) Venezuelans who are going under the yoke of socialist government headed by pretty much a dictator?

  15. That does sound like a Chemical Brothers song title.

  16. You rarely see leftists making the connection between socialism and dictatorship so clearly.

    When you start accepting foreign people’s criticism of the US, then maybe people will give a goshdarn what you think about foreign countries.

  17. But seriously, Venezuela has one of the stupidest oppositions on the planet (they boycotted the last legislative elections to make a point about how Chavez didn’t respect democracy)
    ================================
    When you fund your major opposition party, things have an interesting way of falling into place.

  18. “When you start accepting foreign people’s criticism of the US, then maybe people will give a goshdarn what you think about foreign countries.”

    WTF?

  19. “i’m confused by this. are you saying Americans shouldn’t worry about (or sympathize with) Venezuelans who are going under the yoke of socialist government headed by pretty much a dictator?”

    So you would bump Venezuela up to the top of this worry/sympathy list because Chavez is “pretty much a dictator”? Are you sure you wouldn’t slip lefist in there just for dramatic impact?

    The best thing one can do, outside of soldiering on with the thousands of lucrative business transactions that take place between the U.S. and Venezuela every day without a hitch, is to stop baiting this clown. If most Latin American governments are not concerned about the guy, why do we give him so much press?

  20. WTF?

    I used goshdarn instead of d**n because I believe it is better to bring Bushies like RCD out of their hubris as gently as feasible.

  21. 1) He still shouldn’t cause any Americans to worry outside of the Fox News production booth

    Unless of course you are an american who cares about what happens to Venezualans

  22. “When you start accepting foreign people’s criticism of the US,”

    One doesn’t have to be an American to note the obvious links between socialism and brutal dictatorships. But thanks for playing!

  23. are you saying Americans shouldn’t worry about (or sympathize with) Venezuelans who are going under the yoke of socialist government headed by pretty much a dictator?

    We should worry about it, we just shouldn’t do anything about it. That we keep our hands clean, and firm grip on the moral high ground.

    Isn’t that about right?

    I used goshdarn instead of d**n because I believe it is better to bring Bushies like RCD out of their hubris as gently as feasible.

    I’m sorry, Sam, did you say something?

  24. One doesn’t have to be an American to note the obvious links between socialism and brutal dictatorships.

    If that same American has been reluctant to acknowledge the obvious links between George W. Bush and brutality, then he really shouldn’t be noting anything on the subject of brutality. That kind of American would lack clearly lack the kind of judgement required to say anything intelligent on the whole subject.

  25. If most Latin American governments are not concerned about the guy, why do we give him so much press?

    Because we get a million barrels of oil a day to run our economy from Venezuela, which is now run by a crazy socialist who hates us and will soon have supreme executive and legislative power?

    Shouldn’t that rate a tad bit of concern?

  26. If that same American has been reluctant to acknowledge the obvious links between George W. Bush and brutality, then he really shouldn’t be noting anything on the subject of brutality.

    Tu Quoque.

  27. I am not saying that RCD is wrong. I am just saying he has lost credibility. that is why I avoid the logical fallacy.

    I’ll go a step further and say that I agree with RCD’s statement, but think he should prioritize critical introspection rather than more jingoism at this point in time.

  28. Sorry albo,
    I mistook your post as a call to sympathize with Venezuelans, and a tender one at that. I took my eyes off the prize and forgot that that was just cover for the real issue at hand.

    In the short run, Venezuela really has no other place besides specialized refineries to bring the sort of heavy crude it produces. In the long run, they would probably be able to find alternative refineries. Given this reality, he doesn’t rate a tad bit on the worry scale. He is more than happy with this relationship.

    Again, it’s the “crazy socialist” part of it that gets under everyone’s skin. The Cold War hangover is wearing as bit thin.

  29. If the administration really wanted to be nasty to Chavez, they should find reasons to say nice things about him. Ignore the parts they don’t like, but play up absolutely anything he does that they can conceivably agree with.

    If the leftists get the idea that the US likes Chavez, they’ll hate him.

    ;p

  30. I took my eyes off the prize and forgot that that was just cover for the real issue at hand.

    i’m sorry. i didn’t mean to take your attention away from uniting with other workers of the world.

  31. Arsen,

    I kind of like that idea, kind of like the cop who puts his arm around the guy in prison to make him look like a snitch. Maybe Bush should talk about Chavez as a strategic partner. Keep his friends close but his enemies closer.

  32. But there is hope, if he keeps kissing Ahmadinejad’s ass and funding leftist terrorists all over Latin America, he just might warrent the Saddam treatment.

    Why was it okay to fund terrorists in Latin America when the U.S. did it, but it’s not okay when Chavez does it?

  33. The last time you deeply “caring” people cared about what was happening to people on the other side of the planet, you ended up making the streets run with their blood.

    A little less neocon-style “caring” would be nice to see.

    You want to “care” about people, RC? Start caring about Darfur.

    chirp chirp, tumbleweed

  34. I am shocked, yes shocked, that a Latin American leader is establishing a dictatorship. This would be the (?) time that happenned.

  35. “You want to “care” about people, RC? Start caring about Darfur.”

    I care about Dafur Joe, but let me ask you this. If Iraq is unfit for Democracy and better off under a murderous thug, why isn’t Venezuela the same way? Perhaps Chavez is a good idea. Maybe we should work with him to ensure that he provides a stable authoritarian government for the people down there.

  36. a measure that would let President Hugo Chavez enact laws by decree for 1 1/2 years

    The font fooled me into reading this as “eleven half years.”
    I get confused oh so easily.

    I thought the el diablo speech was an embarrassment for Chavez. Had he done it on, say, Mind of Mencia or upon some other more appropriate stage…

    You mean he should have made the remark in a more serious venue?

  37. You know, I’m all for saying “For God’s sake, we shouldn’t intervene,” but it’s another thing entirely to complain about folks on a libertarian website even bothering to notice a leader in this hemisphere seizing dictatorial powers.

  38. Perhaps Chavez is a good idea. Maybe we should work with him to ensure that he provides a stable authoritarian government for the people down there.
    I know that’s a joke. But seriously, are some societies unprepared/illequipped for a democracy? What should we (The U.S.) do about it? Responses and insights are welcome.

  39. J sub D,

    That is the issue and it is a good question. I am not saying I know the answer, but let’s at least be consistent. If Iraq is unfit for Democracy, then you have to admit that a lot of other places are to.

  40. Sam,

    The issue isn’t GWB here, it is Chavez and dictatorship. If you want to rant about GWB, you are more than welcome to, but asserting that one must accept that GWB is a dick to say that Chavez is a dick simply doesn’t fly when Chavez is, in fact, a dick.

    See, for example:
    http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/01/19/america/LA-GEN-Venezuela-Chavez.php

    See generally:
    http://philosophy.hku.hk/think/courses/phil1006/whatislogic.php

  41. Sam,

    In further support of the above, I heartily endorse this book:

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0226320618/reasonfoundation-20/

    Again, thanks for playing!

  42. You want to “care” about people, RC? Start caring about Darfur.

    Forgive me if this turns into a threadjack.

    Joe, what would you have us do about Darfur?

    ‘Caring’ is not enough. Because the Chinese care more about getting oil from Sudan, they will veto any sort of UN action against Sudan. BTW, ‘strong’ diplomatic language in a resolution does not count as action in my book.

    From my view, in the cheap seats, the only way to stop the suffering in Darfur is to act outside the good graces of the UN and as far as I can tell, the US is the only country that could possibly support a mission in Darfur (if our troops weren’t committed in Iraq and Afghanistan).

  43. Luker,

    We could go into Dafur right now. It wouldn’t take that much. But, what would we do then? Stay and fight and be told we are just imperialists who are in another Vietnam like quagmire?

  44. “You want to “care” about people, RC? Start caring about Darfur.”

    What if RC has family in Venezuela?

  45. Again, thanks for playing!

    10.34 am.

    Keep yr eyes on the thd if ya wanna play ref.

  46. If Iraq is unfit for Democracy, then you have to admit that a lot of other places are to.
    John, unprepared might be a better term than unfit. Other than that quibbling, I concur.

  47. If you want to rant about GWB, you are more than welcome to, but asserting that one must accept that GWB is a dick to say that Chavez is a dick simply doesn’t fly when Chavez is, in fact, a dick.

    By the Team America scale, is Chavez a dick or an asshole?
    It’s clear either way that any Chavez apologists are pussies.

  48. John,

    “If Iraq is unfit for Democracy and better off under a murderous thug…”

    I don’t accept your premise. The fact that you people can’t shoot Iraq into becoming a democracy says nothing whatsoever about the capacity of the people of Iraq to create and sustain a democracy.

    BTW, I know you care about Darfur. You want to see some “chirp, chirp, tumbleweed?” Check out Reason’s coverage of that crisis.

  49. Lurker Kurt.
    Congradulations on the threadjack.
    I hope I am not the only person who is really. really pissed/concerned about the genocide being commited by the Sudanese government. The lack of action by the neighbors speaks loudly, doesn’t it?

  50. Eric the .5b,

    “You know, I’m all for saying “For God’s sake, we shouldn’t intervene,” but it’s another thing entirely to complain about folks on a libertarian website even bothering to notice a leader in this hemisphere seizing dictatorial powers.”

    It is sad that we find ourselves in this position, but because of the coup our government supported against that elected government, and has never renounced that stain on its honor while keeping up the same drumbeat, any denunciation of Chavez comes with certain baggage that makes such conversations difficult.

  51. “The fact that you people can’t shoot Iraq into becoming a democracy says nothing whatsoever about the capacity of the people of Iraq to create and sustain a democracy.”

    So you are saying that you think they can create and sustain a Democracy? I agree with you that they can, they just like a lot of people, Americans included (we would have never won the revolution without France) need some help doing so.

  52. Kurt,

    I support sending in a protective force to stop the genocide, comparable to those currently in Kosovo and Bosnia. It would require maybe a couple of modern combat battalions to make the African force already there adequate to the task.

    If we couldn’t get UN approval, we could easily get NATO approval, as General Clark explains in his book. The Europeans would sign on, if only to demonstrate that Africa is SO their backyard.

    Rather than an imperial-style adventure like Iraq, attempting to force a regime change in Khartoum, this would be a protective force limited to Darfur. It would also be different from the IED/terror field that is Iraq, because our troops would be among a friendly population . The situation would be comparable to the protection we provided the Kurds during the 1990s.

  53. “So you are saying that you think they can create and sustain a Democracy?’

    Absolutely. As a liberal, I believe that human rights and representative democracy are univeral.

    ” I agree with you that they can, they just like a lot of people, Americans included (we would have never won the revolution without France) need some help doing so.”

    “Help” who? What revolution? We didn’t team up with any legitimate Iraqi resistance

  54. J sub D,

    I thought it might happen, so I gave a pre-emptive warning/apology.

    As to the inaction of Sudan’s neighbors, I attribute it partly to the fact that they have their own problems to deal with (of course, the troubles in Dafur can spill over into the neighboring countries and cause even more problems for them).

    Another factor contributing to their inaction is that Armies are expensive and supporting them in the field is even more expensive. They may not have the money to support any kind of offensive action in Darfur.

  55. We didn’t recognize any role for the Iraqi people whatsoever in their own liberation, John. That’s was the problem – we expected the Iraqi people to be passive recipients of a liberation we handed them, and then to suddenly be active participants, committed to the political structure we imposed, that is required for functional democracy.

  56. Regarding Reason‘s lack of coverage of Darfur, one can easily make the argument that the situation does not fall under the umbrella of “free minds and free markets.”

    Regarding Darfur, all the news coverage I have heard, both American and international, reflects that a viable solution has not been formulated. The Sudanese gov’t has played along with no one, not the UN, not the African Union, no one except the Janjaweed. Short of an assault on the Sudanese gov’t, which most of the world understandably does not support, what to do?

  57. Short of an assault on the Sudanese gov’t, which most of the world understandably does not support, what to do?

    (raises hand)

    I know! A new resolution from the U.N. with really strong language. And in the resolution, have it stated that if the Sudanese do not comply and start behaving nicely, hold over their heads the threat of another resolution with really, really strong language!!!

    That should do the trick!!!!

  58. Highnumber,

    We don’t have to overthrow the Sudanese government to stop them and their proxies from attacking people in Darfur, just as we didn’t need to overthrow Saddam to prevent the Iraqi government from attacking the Kurds during theh 1990s.

    We put some modern combat troops on the ground, and double dog dare the militias or government to cross this line in the sand.

    Also, the Sudanese air force needs to disappear, which shouldn’t be too difficult.

  59. joe,

    That may be the best answer we have presently, but I think the world is pretty gun shy right now after watching the US debacles in the name of liberty and human rights. Interesting question: would the world’s reaction to Darfur have been different if we had never invaded Iraq, if the most recent large scale military action had been in the former Yugoslavia? (I am leaving Afghanistan out of this equation purposefully.)

    I am reminded of a piece of Jewish wisdom that tells us that it is better to try to make things better even if you aren’t sure that you know that your efforts will succeed, than it is to say that you don’t know what to do and do nothing. I have struggled with that thought. It seems to me that one can screw things up worse when trying to do the right thing, but not having the wisdom to know what is the right thing.

  60. I’ll go a step further and say that I agree with RCD’s statement, but think he should prioritize critical introspection rather than more jingoism at this point in time.

    Mote, beam, Sam.

    What on earth was “jingoistic” about noting yet another example of the Siamese twins of dictatorship and socialism.

    You want to “care” about people, RC? Start caring about Darfur.

    You misunderstand, joe. I don’t really care about Venezuelans or Iraqis.

    I’m just mocking those who profess to care, but can’t be bothered to break a nail to do anything to help.

    Rather than an imperial-style adventure like Iraq, attempting to force a regime change in Khartoum, this would be a protective force limited to Darfur.

    An open-ended commitment with no prospect of resolving the underlying problem, IOW. And I thought joe knew a quagmire when he saw one.

  61. Oh, come on, one debacle!

    Yeah, it would take some brige-building. On the other hand, some respectful talk about the importance of our democratic allies and our enduring relationship would go a long way – especially if accompanied by something approaching an admission that going it alone was a bad idea.

    The solution to your dilemma is found in modesty. A protective mission is a lot easier to undo than turning a country upside down and plunging into anarchic civil war.

  62. The bodycounts say different, RCD. That is a good point to begin on when you are ready to start looking inwards at the evil in yr own heart.

  63. The defensive posture of our forces in Europe from the late 40s to the early 90s was “an open-ended committment with no hope of solving the underlying proble,” RC.

    It’s only a quagmire if you’re sinking. You know how many of our soldiers have been killed defending people against the Serbs? Why, that would be zero.

  64. “It’s only a quagmire if you’re sinking. You know how many of our soldiers have been killed defending people against the Serbs? Why, that would be zero.”

    I believe a pilot was killed in the Kosovo war, but that is not the point. Is it your position that it is okay to intervene as long as their are no casualties? If not, what is the magic number? In some ways I agree with you, that is why I don’t support invading North Korea but did support Iraq; a war with North Korea would kill millions and cost God knows how many casualties. I just don’t think the price in Iraq is too high considering the rewards of winning.

  65. joe, while i agree with you largely on the point of darfur, i think it’s been a very slow process that only started with the big pr campaign (which i have problems with, at least in terms of the ads on the subways and street signs, because it is so beyond the fucking point even as a fundraiser).

    part of this is because the folks involved in a lot of early outreach were jesus crispies doing so for the sake of saving christians from barbarians (i don’t really have any problem with that, even if the reasoning is kinda fucked) and because there was reluctance, especially with those who would normally call for such things (“the left”) to give their opposition such a clear cut example of islamist awfulness – slavery, rape, murder, etc – because of the nature of silly human argumentation. culture war uber alles.

    i mean, the answer is that you kill a bunch of people to prevent them from killing another bunch of people. that’s not going to work so plainly with many folks as a baldfaced appeal.

  66. It is sad that we find ourselves in this position, but because of the coup our government supported against that elected government, and has never renounced that stain on its honor while keeping up the same drumbeat, any denunciation of Chavez comes with certain baggage that makes such conversations difficult.

    Bullshit. If someone advocates doing something about Chavez, then such a person can face that baggage. Nobody else is bound to hedge complaints about him just to suit any of his defenders or Bush’s detractors.

  67. How many casualties in Iraq are worth the price of humiliating defeat? If I’d thought we would see the “rewards of winning,” as I’ve seen you define them, I’d have supported the war, too.

    It’s my position that it’s a good idea to intervene if there is a reasonable possibility of success at an acceptable price. This differs from your position, John, in that I don’t simply assume success, like some Pets.com stock buyer circa 1998.

    It’s also my position that democratizing “regime change” only stands a reasonable chance of working if a popular movement with broad support among the public is in the forefront of that effort.

    Protective missions, on the other hand, stand a good chance of working if the population that needs to be protected desires our help, and is located in a defensible, reasonably contiguous area.

  68. dhex,

    The Darfuris aren’t Christians. They’re Muslims. You’re thinking of the earlier crisis in the south of Sudan. Even then, TransAfrica and other lefty organizations were quite vocal about the problem, just as they are about Darfur.

    Eric,

    “Nobody else is bound to hedge complaints about him just to suit any of his defenders or Bush’s detractors.”

    No, but if they don’t take the baggage into account, they’re going to be summarily dismissed. Don’t like it? Boo fuckity hoo, tell it non-Comminist groups in Eastern Europe that raise economic issues. They’ve got their own baggage to deal with, and they can acknowledge that and take it into account, or they wank away by themselves while everyone ignores them. Welcome to the real wold.

  69. I just don’t think the price in Iraq is too high considering the rewards of winning.

    Those rewards would be …?

    Just asking.

  70. That is a good point to begin on when you are ready to start looking inwards at the evil in yr own heart.

    Mote, beam, Sam. Or don’t you understand the allusion?

    Sure, joe, we can park a few thousands or tens of thousands of troops indefinitely in East Africa without anyone dying. I believe it, really I do.

    See, also, Black Hawk Down.

    Not to mention the UN “protective missions” associated with notable genocides and ethnic cleansings in Africa and, yes, Eastern Europe. Lessons learned there included the fact that protective missions are nothing but punching bags unless and until the root of the problem is taken down (i.e., the ethnic cleansing didn’t stop in Eastern Europe until we bombed the shit out of somebody).

    If your recommendation is that we drop a bunch of troops into a defensive hunker in the middle of nowhere, that will result in combination of quagmire and complete inutility. If, on the other hand, you want a successful cessation of genocide, history shows you will have to go after the regime sponsoring the genocide.

    But you don’t do regime change, do you?

  71. We don’t have to overthrow the Sudanese government to stop them and their proxies from attacking people in Darfur, just as we didn’t need to overthrow Saddam to prevent the Iraqi government from attacking the Kurds during theh 1990s.

    Wow, joe, now I know that you are actually a warmongering neo-con pretending to be a liberal-democrat! Once you accept the premise of unilateral U.S. military intervention into regions which present no emminent threat to the U.S. (My guess is Sudan has even FEWER weapons of mass destruction than Iraq), the differences between you and the Bush camp are in implementation and priorities, not in ideology.

    But back to tin-pot Communist dictators:

    The threat of expansion of Communism into latin America was never a fear that capitalism would be defeated by socialism (as socialism is simply state capitalism). It was the fear that the Soviet Empire would use friendly communist states as forward military bases to threaten the United States.

    Now that the Soviet Empire collapsed, that is no longer the issue. Socialism is an effective way to NEUTRALIZE U.S. rivals. If the U.S. wanted to prevent an oil rich Venezuala from becoming a regional superpower, there is no better way to neutralize them as economic rivals than to promote a social system that will scare away capital, misuse scarce resources, alienate its neighbors, and ultimatly turn it into a neutered Cuban style dictatorship.

  72. The benefits of winning in Iraq are having a stable non radical ally in the middle of the Middle East. It would act as a counter balance to Iran without the downsides of having Saddam in power. Victory would also completely discredit radical psalmists and Pan Arabists. It would put an end to the idea that you can beat the U.S. by heading to the hills and blowing up enough civilians on CNN so that we will quit. It would be a very good thing.

    RC,

    Joe is all for interventions to save people as long as no one gets hurt and it is not very hard. The basic issues surrounding Iraq really haven’t changed. How do we deal with the Middle East? Do you take the James Baker view that they are all a bunch of animals and we need to make sure they are under control by a thug of our choosing to keep a lid on the place or does the existence of so many dysfunctional oppressive regimes in the region pose a threat to US security and necessitates that these governments be replaced by ones that respect their own people. If you believe the former, the Saddam was not so bad. If you believe that latter, then you think it is worth the price of blood and treasure to try to build a better government in one of the most important countries in the region.

  73. That would be Islamists, not Pslamists, although those guys are not so nice either.

  74. Now that the Soviet Empire collapsed, that is no longer the issue. Socialism is an effective way to NEUTRALIZE U.S. rivals. If the U.S. wanted to prevent an oil rich Venezuala from becoming a regional superpower, there is no better way to neutralize them as economic rivals than to promote a social system that will scare away capital, misuse scarce resources, alienate its neighbors, and ultimatly turn it into a neutered Cuban style dictatorship.

    That was an interesting post. I’ll think about it because you might just be right.

  75. RC Dean,

    Black Hawk Down is indeed an important experience to learn from. However, I think there is a fairly significant distinction you’re missing.

    In that episode, American troops were sent into as hostile area, in the heart of the enemy’s area of control. In a theoretical Darfur mission, they would be in a friendly area, surrounded by friendlies, far from areas occupied by the Sudanese army or the Janjaweed.

    As I’ve said before, it’s the difference between protecting the Kurds, and occupying Tikrit.

    And as I’ve also said before, “no casualties” is not the standard.

    You are correct that such protective missions have failed in the past because they troops didn’t have the authority to fight off the genocidists. I certainly wouldn’t want to put American troops in Darfur with such weak rules of engagement.

    You are also correct that these protective missions are not a long-term solution. They are an immediate solution, however, and we need a solution immediately.

    And I’ve already explained the circumstances under which I’d “do” regime change.

  76. Rex,

    I certainly hope you don’t expect me to recant merely because you can draw a superficial comparison between the use of force called for by a liberal foreign policy and that called for by a neoconservative foreign policy.

    John, “Joe is all for interventions to save people as long as no one gets hurt and it is not very hard.” Yes, just as you are in favor of interventions that produce massive numbers of casualties and that have a low chance of succeeding. That’s the thing with us liberals; we actually want our efforts to work, and not create bloodbaths. Why, we even prioritize these goals above creating opportunities to proclaim our moral superiority over our domestic political opponents! Unfathomable, I know.

  77. Mote, beam, Sam. Or don’t you understand the allusion?

    yes, the difference btwn a mote and a beam is a difference in degree, not kind. just like the bodycounts.

    i was merely arguing that you were confusing who had the mote and who had the beam. because extreme patriotism has clouded yr judgement.

    I am trying to get yr judgement unclouded so that you repent* the sin of unjust war and don’t end up in haitch ee double hockey sticks. especially important point for those who read the Bible.

    FOOTNOTE:

    * pref thru Sac of Conf.

  78. John, I’ve been appalled by James Baker/Henry Kissinger/Bush-Holding-Handies-with-the-Saudis realpolitik my entire political life. Opposition to this bloody amorality as practiced in Central America during the Reagan administration was one of the formative experiences in my political development.

    But by the time I found myself at a meeting, being asked to oppose this evil by supporting the Shining Path in Peru, I discovered that simply being against conservative realism isn’t enough, because without a positive vision that can work, you’re just opening the door to monsters. Like the Sondero, or the Mahdi Army.

    You can’t just fight against dictatorship, you have to fight for democracy – people power – and this means actually siding with the people (in substantive way, not just rhetorically). You actually have to put them first, in a leadership position in their own liberation.

    We sort of did that in Afghanistan, as our soldiers called in airstrikes while locals overthrew the Taliban, and it sort of worked. We most assuredly did not do that in Iraq, merely attempting to install a regime of con men exiles instead of even attempting to have a genuine Iraqi component in the overthrow of the government, or even to develop a trans-Iraq resistance movement. And now, as the government wobbles between death-squad oppression and collapse, we’re paying the price.

    Democracy and liberation start with the people.

  79. Arrrrgh, I h8 it when joe goes over my hed. I have no way of knowing, then, if he is right or wrong.

  80. Did Sam Franklin recently discover text messaging? Not dating a 15 year old, are we?

  81. Sweet!

  82. Reflecting more on what joe sed, I get it more now.

    I am somewhat less of an intervensionist than he is, but his standards seem principled. I disagree with him on grounds that I don’t fell are that firm.

  83. “Nobody else is bound to hedge complaints about him just to suit any of his defenders or Bush’s detractors.”

    No, but if they don’t take the baggage into account, they’re going to be summarily dismissed. Don’t like it? Boo fuckity hoo, tell it non-Comminist groups in Eastern Europe that raise economic issues.

    Fuck that, joe. I’m already summarily dismissed for being a libertarian – I have zero interest in jumping through your or anyone else’s hoops in order to be allowed to criticize a would-be dictator. If someone has so much resistance to criticism of Chavez, I’m not horribly pained by his ignoring me.

  84. “i’m sorry. i didn’t mean to take your attention away from uniting with other workers of the world.”

    No, you fucking half-wit. It was the Texas tea thing. Oil that is. You know, the thing you brandish the humanitarian argument to cover for. You said it yourself. Please…give an honest answer about why you’d like to bump Venezuela up to the top of the worry/sympathy list again. Hopefully it’s not some limp Cold War hallucination, but then I’m not going to cross my fingers.

  85. Please…give an honest answer about why you’d like to bump Venezuela up to the top of the worry/sympathy list again.

    Sorry, I don’t read posts by John or Dave/Sam. Did one of them say that Venezuela is at the “top of the worry/sympathy list”, or is that just entirely your assertion?

  86. Eric the .5b,
    The comment was a response to albo. Like you, albo seems to think the Venezuela question is urgent. It’s not. If Venezuela makes your heart bleed, as it seems to do for so many of the posters who have posted here, you must not get any sleep at night. Here’s a short list of countries/peoples who might be even more capable of keeping you awake at night: North Korea, Zimbabwe, the republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, Sudan, Somalia, Colombia (oops, sorry, rightwing prez in charge there…moving right along), Myanmar, Russia and on and on. Chavez is as threatening as Shakes the Clown. When the suffering among Venezuelans relative to what’s gone on throughout the country’s history reaches noteworthy proportions, wake me up. I’d rather sleep while everyone continues to chew on the Cold War cud.

  87. Eric the .5b wrote:
    “I have zero interest in jumping through your or anyone else’s hoops in order to be allowed to criticize a would-be dictator.”

    As you wish…but it would be nice if you don’t make yourself scarce when actual dictators are about. Fair enough?

  88. About the U.S.-supported coup of Venezuela’s democratically elected government in 2002, Eric the 5b. wrote,
    “Nobody else is bound to hedge complaints about him just to suit any of his defenders or Bush’s detractors.”

    No, no one’s bound to hedge anything. I think those on the receiving end of coups would be more inclined to do harm to whomever had any role whatsoever in trying to provide material support to the people who carried the the coup. Eric, say I try to overthrow the government you voted for tomorrow. What would be your response? I’d actually like to know. I would suspect that if I didn’t get clapped into prison, I might want to shut the fuck up and deal with actual events instead of “would-be” events. I suspect I might even apologize. The Bush admin has so mismanaged Chavez he should be sending them royalty checks for breathing life into his regime.

  89. The comment was a response to albo. Like you, albo seems to think the Venezuela question is urgent. It’s not.

    Interesting. Albo suggests it might be important, and you characterize that as “top of the list” or “urgent”. I don’t suggest it’s anything but something a libertarian like me has a right to have an opinion about (without twitchy left-wingers piling on to oppose the mere act of critizing Chavez), and you file me in the same group.

    If Venezuela makes your heart bleed, as it seems to do for so many of the posters who have posted here, you must not get any sleep at night. Here’s a short list of countries/peoples who might be even more capable of keeping you awake at night: North Korea, Zimbabwe, the republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, Sudan, Somalia, Colombia (oops, sorry, rightwing prez in charge there…moving right along), Myanmar, Russia and on and on.

    I’m curious – what does the version of Eric the .5b in your head think about those countries and their governments? I know my opinions on those places, but you’re not actually arguing with me by this point.

  90. As you wish…but it would be nice if you don’t make yourself scarce when actual dictators are about. Fair enough?

    …Wow, not even touching this one.

  91. No, no one’s bound to hedge anything. I think those on the receiving end of coups would be more inclined to do harm to whomever had any role whatsoever in trying to provide material support to the people who carried the the coup.

    Meaning…what exactly? Chavez wants vengeance on American taxpayers?

    Eric, say I try to overthrow the government you voted for tomorrow. What would be your response? I’d actually like to know. I would suspect that if I didn’t get clapped into prison, I might want to shut the fuck up and deal with actual events instead of “would-be” events. I suspect I might even apologize.

    You’re losing me…Are you suggesting that you’d hypothetically apologize for raising this hypothetical?

    Um, OK – accepted? It’s cool.

    The Bush admin has so mismanaged Chavez he should be sending them royalty checks for breathing life into his regime.

    Yup. Authoritarians and totalitarians need an external enemy to point at and blame.

  92. Pinko:

    You seem to be implying with bits like “Venezuela’s democratically elected government” that you think Chavez’s “regime” is legitimate in a liberal, democratic context. Chavez has been rather convincingly accused of using thuggery to disperse opposition meetings and engaging in electoral fraud during his re-elections and his recall election.

    What precisely about those things do you consider legitimate? Why are you going on about how boring and lame this discussion is while engaging in point-by-point attacks on anyone substantially criticizing Chavez?

  93. Oops, mustn’t forget the law-by-fiat power he’s “been given”. Does that make him less or more legitimate?

  94. What is the compelling American interest in Darfur?

  95. wayne: amazingly excellent pr opportunity if handled correctly (in addition to you know, saving innocent lives)

    it will never happen, of course.

    “The Bush admin has so mismanaged Chavez he should be sending them royalty checks for breathing life into his regime.”

    yeah, not much to add to that but…yeah.

  96. wayne: amazingly excellent pr opportunity if handled correctly

    That’s not worth dead American soldiers.

    in addition to you know, saving innocent lives

    As they’re not American citizens threatened by a hostile power, that isn’t either.

  97. As I’ve said before, it’s the difference between protecting the Kurds, and occupying Tikrit.

    And while we were merely protecting the Kurds, Saddam was committing mass murder and, at a minimum, ethnic cleansing. IOW, the example you choose supports my point that you can’t stop a genocide without removing the genocidal regime.

    In a theoretical Darfur mission, they would be in a friendly area, surrounded by friendlies, far from areas occupied by the Sudanese army or the Janjaweed.

    If they are not in contact with the enemy, then how are they going to protect anyone?

  98. “And while we were merely protecting the Kurds, Saddam was committing mass murder and, at a minimum, ethnic cleansing.”

    Ah, but in this case, the Khartoum regime wouldn’t be left in control of an oppressed population comparable to the Iraqi Shiites. Were they to start up again in the south, I’d support stopping them there, too.

    “If they are not in contact with the enemy, then how are they going to protect anyone?”

    Are you kidding me? Do you have any familiarity at all with what’s actually happing in Darfur? With how the operations are being carried out through government/Janjaweed incursions?

    Either you don’t, or you have turned to sophistry out of an inability to argue the facts.

  99. eric: i am of two minds on the sudanese question. it would be great, truly great, if the african union was more capable, because sudan is fucked.

    but i also doubt there’s enough tolerance for this kind of adventure as iraq fatigue is setting in. and i doubt the ability of any american government in the near future to

    “As they’re not American citizens threatened by a hostile power, that isn’t either.”

    i was positing an answer from the point of view of a longer-term strategy, not my personal preference. again, my personal preference would have been for the african union to be able to get in there at the beginning of the civil war, because a buffer zone would have helped tremendously. and because the legacy of colonialism is such that regardless of intentions, interventionism is always going to be seen as stealth imperialism.

    the flip side of that is, oddly enough, the recent savedarfur campaign. while “we are all africans” seems like a great slogan on its face, it ignores the plain fact outlined by eric above. (to their credit, they’re moving towards better hooks as of late – emphasising crimes against people, particularly women and children. even though this is essentially the same message as the above, i think people respond better to messages of universalism when they’re stripped down to the base of gender, and appeals to children.)

  100. Are you kidding me? Do you have any familiarity at all with what’s actually happing in Darfur? With how the operations are being carried out through government/Janjaweed incursions?

    If we’re willing to have US soldiers engage Janjaweed raids, then they will be in contact with an enemy. Bluntly, joe, you sound like you’re saying, “No, we’ll be in South Vietnam, making sure the Viet Cong stay out. We’ll be among friendly people, with little or no danger to our troops.”

  101. I’ve never suggested that the protective force would not have contact with the enemy. All you’ve done substituted “contact with the enemy” for what I wrote, “in the heart of the enemy’s area of control.” Those are two very different dispositions, and your analysis suffers from your conflation of the two.

    And then you compare the infrequent incursions by militias into Darfur with the throrough infiltration the Viet Cong had in South Vietnam. Once again, I have question whether you know anything about what is happening in Sudan.

  102. And then you compare the infrequent incursions by militias into Darfur…

    If the infiltrations were “infrequent”, Darfur wouldn’t be an ongoing atrocity.

    Once again, I have question whether you know anything about what is happening in Sudan.

    Not sure when you questioned that the first time…You may be confusing me with RC.

    I don’t think there’s any military conflict around the world that justifies our military involvement – and I’m including Afghanistan at this late date. Our military has a purpose, and it’s not remaking the world or making PR ventures.

    Yes, we know liberals are as good at conservatives at finding wars to get into. And yes, Clinton, aside from Somalia (which he couldn’t help), was uniquely thoughtful enough to limit his interventions to air strikes. And yes, we know UN approval matters only so much to liberals as it does to conservatives – crucial when they can get it or the other team can’t, utterly ignorable when they can’t or the other team can.

    (Come on. NATO approval? Did that really pass the laugh test for anyone, even Team Blue fans? Clark couldn’t explain how Kosovo was any less a violation of international law than Iraq back in 2004, the last time anyone actually cared to ask him for a justification beyond the understood, “My boss told me to bomb them.” And there’s a very good reason for that – Clinton pointing to a military alliance like NATO isn’t much different at all from Bush pointing at “the Coalition”.)

    Of course, if your point is to discourage people from encouraging US intervention in Venezuela (that being your justification for jumping on anyone besides you who criticizes him), maybe you shouldn’t be so eager to suggest places to intervene.

  103. Eric,

    “If the infiltrations were “infrequent”, Darfur wouldn’t be an ongoing atrocity.”

    Digging deep in to the semantics bin here, I’d say. My point is sufficiently clear, and you can muster a substantive response any time now.

    Also, getting the approval a pre-existing organization (like NATO in the late 90s, or the OAS during the Cuban missile crisis) is quite a bit different than announcing that the posse you’ve rounded up supports your mission.

  104. Digging deep in to the semantics bin here, I’d say.

    Words, meaning, all those confusing things. But thanks for your illustrative salesmanship on a military intervention.

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