Thursday, September 21, 2006

Chavez: Theater or Threat

Bush just doesn't get it. And his token Secretary of State doesn't get it. And his throwback Secretary of Defense doesn't get it.

We aren't just in a war on terrorism, we're in a war for the hearts and minds of the world's nations.

And we're losing that war!

Bush couldn't have been president at a worse time. A time when repressed nation states are looking for a better way. Bush has told them we are the only way, and then proceeded to force his Decider view on them. He thought 9/11 would justify every action, and the world would sacrifice itself to his evangelical, myopic vision of how things should be.

Well, a buffoon speaking at the U.N. yesterday laid to rest any illusions we may have that the Bush vision is supreme. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez ridiculed the President of the United States and the world tittered and then loudly applauded.

Bush and Clueless Condi dismissed Chavez's comments out of hand. Chavez disgraced himself, they wouldn't dignify his remarks by answering them, they said.

The Bush administration is focusing instead on electioneering Iraq-justifying propaganda. In his U.N. speech this week, Bush hailed his "Freedom Agenda" and the spread of democracy.... "From Beirut to Baghdad, people are making the choice for freedom." Yet, even while he spoke, tanks were rolling through the streets of Bangkok as a military coup toppled the elected leader of Thailand. (WaPo)

This elected leader of Thailand was in New York attending the U.N. session. Did Bush meet with the prime minister and ally, show any sign of support? No. Bush's spokesman said the White House was "disappointed" in response to a reporter query on the coup.

Another spokesman, representing the democracy project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, sniffed, "The president's freedom agenda is inherently selective. We care very much about democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq, but.... Thailand's just not part of the story, so this falls off the map a bit."

And this is the Bush administration's real problem.... if it isn't the Middle East it just doesn't count. In fact, many voters are convinced Bush really doesn't even care about the U.S., otherwise he would already have secured our borders.

Back to Chavez. He also has an agenda. He wants a non-permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council. He wants trade, energy, arms, mining and agriculture agreements and alliances with a host of nations.

Here is a peek at the Chavez schedule mid-July to the end of August:

July 20, Argentina. A meeting with South American trade pact Mercosur nations.

July 24, Belarus. Called for a strategic alliance with this ex-Soviet republic.

July 25, Russia. Signed a U.S.-opposed arms agreement said to be worth $3 billion for fighter jets, helicopters, small arms and AK47 assault rifles.

July 28, Qatar. Wooing OPEC.

July 29, Iran. A show of solidarity.

July 31, Vietnam. Building ideological affinity with the communist country.

August 2, Mali. Mineral rich West African country with oil reserve potential.

August 3, Benin. Another West African nation with possible oil reserves.

August 13, Cuba. Visited Cuban leader Fidel Castro in the hospital. They have a strong alliance.

August 22, China. A six-day visit. China promised to invest $5 billion in a new refinery and a new fleet of oil tankers for Venezuela, and become a major market for Venezuelan oil.

August 27, Malaysia. Possible oil reserves.

August 30, Syria. Building a strategic anti-U.S. alliance.

August 31, Angola. Sizeable oil reserves.

According to BBC News, "Since first taking power in 1999, he [Chavez] has spent some 365 days away on foreign trips - but as long as oil revenue keeps bank-rolling domestic social projects, Mr. Chavez's popularity looks set to continue."

Chavez may be a buffoon, and he may have overplayed his hand at the U.N. But, he has plans, and international friends, and a determination to help shape a world freed of U.S. dominance and influence.

Read about the recent meeting of 118 Nonaligned Movement nations in Havana. That's two-thirds of the nations of the world. The ailing Castro is the movement's president, his brother Raul presided. Iran attended. North Korea attended. Even U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan spoke to the body. Fidel met privately with a handful of leaders includling Chavez and Annan.

And, ironically, Iraq's vice president, Tariq al-Hashimi, asked the meeting for a statement calling on all countries to stop interfering in Iraq and complained "a war machine has destroyed" the country's infrastructure.

Ronald Reagan dreamed of our nation as a "shining house on a hill." With his bullying, ham-fisted arrogance, Bush has perverted the vision to a barbed-wire enclave in an oil swamp. And has given a dangerous buffoon a critical opening.

No comments: