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March 11, 2013

It Would Be Polite If Americans Who Criticize Hugo Chavez and Venezuela Would Shut Up

Wow, who doesn't sympathize with this righteous, blistering critique of Bush's foreign policy from 2006?

Bush is not spreading human rights...Instead, he is spreading secret prisons everywhere, practicing mean torture in Baghram, Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.

Well, me, actually. Because that criticism was coming from al Qaeda's second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

There aren't many Americans who disliked Bush more than I did. Yet when I hear him being criticized by Zawahiri, it doesn't really…speak to me. To start with, it's hard to take seriously the indignation of someone who would himself set up secret prisons and torture people the second he had the chance. But more importantly, al Qaeda itself helped create the political conditions that allowed Bush to torture people around the world. Sure, maybe in his heart of hearts Bush always wanted to, but he would have had many fewer opportunities if Zawahiri and his pals hadn't plotted to fly airplanes into the World Trade Center.

So I appreciate that Zawahiri wanted to both (1) get to kill 3,000 Americans in lower Manhattan and (2) get all outraged when this empowered members of the Bush administration to attack civil liberties. But you really are only allowed to choose one.

Similarly, the U.S. media has taken the opportunity of Hugo Chavez's death to be OUTRAGED by the violation of civil liberties in Venezuela. And I feel just the same listening to them as I do to Zawahiri.

I have no idea how much of the criticism of the Venezuela government is legitimate, and I'm not going to take the time to find out unless someone pays me to do it. (Given the general crappiness of any coverage of our official enemies, if I had to guess I'd assume it's about 15% accurate.)

But as with Zawahiri, the more important point is that U.S. policy has done nothing but empower any people within the Venezuelan government who are inclined to crack down on freedom of the press, an independent judiciary, etc. It's not just that the U.S. attempted to overthrow the Venezuelan government in 2002; we also overthrew the Aristide government in Haiti in 2004; assisted in the overthrow of the Honduran government in 2009; and have a previous century's worth of meddling in Latin America.

And when countries are under attack, the space for civil liberties closes. Sometimes that's for legitimate reasons, and sometimes it's not and is opportunistic on the part of would-be authoritarians. But it's essentially a law of nature; it always happens. Therefore, if you choose to attack another country, you are making certain the people of that country will have fewer civil liberties.

So if you're a member of al Qaeda and you're OUTRAGED by the violation of civil liberties by the U.S., the most effective way you can spend your time is trying to stop your friends from blowing up something else in America. And if you're an American and you're OUTRAGED by a diminishment of civil liberties in Venezuela, the best way to spend your time is trying to stop the U.S. from intervening any more in Venezuela. In both cases, you'll create breathing room for the people fighting for civil liberties.

But failing that, it would be much more effective and polite if you could just shut up.

Did the Japanese government get OUTRAGED about Japanese in the U.S. getting sent to internment camps? Yes they did.

Posted at March 11, 2013 01:37 PM

Last link is broken.

Posted by: k_machine at March 11, 2013 03:13 PM

Well, one can LISTEN to Japanese Americans, they seemed to have complained, and I'm just as sure pretty much no one else here cared. I know I like to rag on GITMO every chance I get but I bet I don't bitch near as much as THOSE PRISONERS in cell block X-ray.
The ONLY reason I do so is my FERVENT passion for HABEAS CORPUS and of course THE U.S. CONSTITUTION. Otherwise I'd probably just watch T.V.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at March 11, 2013 04:49 PM

Jon. thank you for dispensing some "common sense".
Gosh, "only if ", some people knew when to keep their mouths shut!!!!!! Majority of Humanity's problems could be solved.

A very interesting look....
:Inside the Revolution: A Journey into Heart of Venezuela (Documentary) "


ps whether in Palestine or Venezuela, the young people with their Hip Hop music are real HOPE for change!

Posted by: rupa shah at March 11, 2013 04:59 PM

This is not directly related to the post but is indirectly connected. I had never seen this before.....just finished watching it and felt like it all happened yesterday....reminded me of one of our Residents who was from a total daze, the whole day she was with us on 9/11/73.

"The Other 9/11 - Chile - Coup d'état - September 11, 1973"


ps her President NEVER got a chance to deny HIS CITIZENS civil liberties!!! Kissinger et al made sure of it!!!

Posted by: rupa shah at March 11, 2013 09:53 PM

I'm not sure how many layers of irony there are in this particular post, but all's I know is that at some point it was decided that Chavez was the latest swarthy face of evil, with the result, for example, that my nice NPR-listening, PBS-watching dad started referring to him to him as a "tyrant," even though, whatever the veracity of the criticisms of him, they never seemed to include stuff like killing or torturing people, which is what that word suggest to me (though I just found out there have apparently been some questionable claims along those lines in the recent past Aside from helping poor people and stuff. He's not beyond honest criticism, but he strikes me as the single poorest fit for the face of evil role of the many within memory.

Posted by: godoggo at March 11, 2013 11:09 PM

I was right in the middle of posting another comment in the last thread just as it closed, so I'll paraphrase it here: my last comment was probably overly prickish. Here's what I meant: the experiments in that book weren't designed to show meditation to have specific therapeutic benefits of the kind that might justify its use in hospitals let alone necessitate a whole new kind of practitioner. I had some additional thoughts, but I'll stop.

Posted by: godoggo at March 12, 2013 04:03 AM

Chavez nationalized the oil industry- anyone who nationalizes an oil industry (Nasser) is evil- QED

Posted by: frankenduf at March 12, 2013 09:16 AM

frankenduf: AGREED! Plus he was giving away heating oil products to the poor and elderly in need HERE in The USA.(a terrible crime against OUR inhumanity to say the least) Congress&Big Oil(their owners-OUR masters) have a perfect right to celebrate now that "ding dong the Wicked Witch is dead".

Posted by: Mike Meyer at March 12, 2013 01:16 PM

One Commie down and one to go. Maybe when Castro dies of old age WE could turn Cuba into a GITMO theme park. WE could call it "Devil's Island II".

Posted by: Mike Meyer at March 12, 2013 09:52 PM

Just another form of gun
You'll do again what they have done----Moody Blues

Posted by: Mike Meyer at March 15, 2013 02:06 PM

I woke up this today
I was crying
Lost in a lost world
'Cos so many people are dying
Lost in a lost world
Some of them are living an illusion
Bounded by the darkness of their mind
In their eyes its nation against nation against nation
With racial pride
Sad hearts they hide
Thinking only of themselves
They shun the light
Living in their empty shells.----Moody Blues

How can we understand
The riots by the people, for the people
Who are only destroying themselves
And when you see a frightened person
Who is frightened by the people
Who are scorching this earth
Who are scorching this earth.----Moody Blues

Posted by: Mike Meyer at March 15, 2013 05:03 PM

rupa shah: et al=AT&T

Posted by: Mike Meyer at March 15, 2013 05:07 PM

I was gonna give a Sinatra quote, but screw it. Here's one more for Mistah Charlie:

Posted by: godoggo at March 15, 2013 09:56 PM

Therefore, if you choose to attack another country, you are making certain the people of that country will have fewer civil liberties.

wish this was more clearly understood by such luminaires as the ones prescribing such diktats as 'R2P'

Posted by: almostinfamous at March 17, 2013 02:27 AM

almostinfamous: EXACTLY!!! And if I may add, using Depleted Uranium munition products also lays a layer of radioactive dust over those one is trying "liberate".

Posted by: Mike Meyer at March 17, 2013 11:01 AM