Since my fellow blogger does such a great job pontificating on some of the bigger fish in the geopolitical game, namely Russia and China, I thought I would draw attention to Latin America for a moment. Our own backyard, as they say, has become a very fertile ground for anti-Americanism and socialism of the worst kind. The sub-story is that Hugo Chavez is pulling out all the stops to prevent any shortcomings his governing party might experience in the upcoming gubernatorial races. He’s even mentioned he might bring out the military to suppress the unfriendly election results. To anyone who’s given Latin America at least ten minutes of their time over the past decade knows this is not surprising, hence why it’s the sub-story.
The real concern comes from the change in power in Washington. Although an Obama Administration will likely be more rational than the hard right gives him credit for – which my fellow blogger has done a good job pointing out – Obama’s pragmatic oats might run up against some obstinate supporters of the strongman in his own party. I am referring of course to Democrats like former President Carter who validated a highly controversial recall election in 2004 that extended Chavez’s rule despite shaky evidence to support his finding. Or take Congs. Joseph Kennedy II and Bill Delahunt’s friendly relations with Chavez and his oil company, CITGO. And we certainly can’t forget Sen. Chris Dodd’s defense of Chavez’s democratic rule when the country was rebelling against him for his dictatorial abuses.
The point is that when Chavez acts out and members of our government – current and former – defend him, it’s a scary moment for those who value political and economic liberty. By validating fraudulent election results, arranging sweetheart business deals, and defending Chavez’s ability to use the military to extend his rule, America is aiding and abetting a socialist dictatorship. America has a tall stature in the world and a mere photograph or meeting with a foreign leader can sometimes be all that’s needed for a brutal dictator or corrupt regime to gain legitimacy with their people (i.e., Yasser Arafat).
For this very reason, Pres-elect Obama’s pledge to sit down with numerous foreign dictators should be met with extreme weariness. This applies especially with Hugo Chavez. He has proved himself willing to eliminate anybody in his way. We shouldn’t stand by him giving him legitimacy while he tries. In this case, let’s hope Obama is strong enough to stand up to Chavez as well as his own party.