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Sunday, April 30, 2006


Slandering Venezuela, Iran, Belarus

On the front page of the "Perspective" section of the San Jose Mercury News today is this article, written by Robert D. Kaplan, a national correspondent for the Atlantic and author of "Imperial Grunts: The American Military on the Ground." We are told that he wrote the article for the Washington Post, although I couldn't find it there; perhaps it is yet to appear.

The headline of the article reads "Iron-fisted leaders still threaten the world," and no, they aren't talking about George Bush, one of the only world "leaders" who really is threatening the world, on a routine basis. The subhead reads "Nuclear, biological weapons falling into hands of unaccountable states" but curiously, the word "Pakistan" doesn't appear anywhere in the article. Instead, with the exception of North Korea and Russia, the article is filled with diatribes against countries which definitely don't have nuclear weapons and, as far as we know, have no biological weapons either -- Serbia (under Milosevic, not now, for goodness sake), Liberia (under Charles Taylor, not now, for goodness sake), Iran, Venezuela, Belarus, Syria, Sudan.

Alexander Lukashenko, recently re-elected with 83% of the vote, is a "dictator...who has turned Belarus into the political equivalent of a Brezhnev-era theme park." Then there are "non-traditional dictatorships," in which are included Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, both elected with a far greater percentage of the vote than George Bush ever got (Chavez multiple times). See how many errors you can count in this sentence:

There are Hugo Chavez's Venezuela and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Iran, built on economic anger and religious resentment, where oil and nuclear power have become symbolic fists raised against a perceived oppressor -- whether it be the Americans or the Great Satan.
One hardly knows where to start. There's the "it's all about us" syndrome, where Chavez and Ahmadinejad aren't ruling their countries in the interests of their own people, no, they're ruling it in reaction ("economic anger and religious resentment") to the U.S. Right. And the oil and nuclear power aren't being used to strengthen their own countries' economies and the economic well-being of their own people, no, it's all about giving the U.S. the middle finger. Right. And as far as that "perceived" oppressor, well, I think we all know the truth. Coups and attempted coups? All in the imagination of the victims, no doubt.

Stephen Colbert may have skewered George Bush for his willingness to ignore "reality," but Bush has nothing on the author of this article:

What they have in common is that the rulers can exploit the whole panoply of state power without regard for the will of the people. The irony of Iran has been that, for years now, a significant part of its population has been decidedly less anti-American than almost any other state in the Middle East. Chávez and Lukashenko are also hated by vital parts of their populations.
Chavez and Ahmadinejad and Lukashenko are elected leaders, ruling their countries with the aid of elected parliaments. They are expressing the will of the people, not "exploiting state power without regard" for that will. What utter nonsense. And this business about being "anti-American." We all know that most people around the world, in country after country which has felt the brunt of U.S. imperialism, are almost inexplicably favorable towards Americans. It is U.S. foreign policy that they are completely against. And don't you love that "hated by vital parts of their populations" bit? I don't know about Belarus or Iran, but for sure in Venezuela I know who he's talking about. They're called "capitalists." They may be a "vital part" of the population, but, as elections in all those countries have shown, they are certainly a distinct minority.

But the scariest, the most troubling, paragraph, is this one, which is the one intended to rouse the American people to action against these "potential threats" (note also the attempt to rewrite the past and provide yet another justification for the invasion of Iraq):

We are entering a well-armed world, with more players than ever who can unhinge the international system and who have fewer reasons to be afraid of us. That's why a resentful state leader, armed with disruptive technologies and ready to make use of stateless terrorists, poses such a threat. Saddam was a wannabe in this regard. According to a Joint Forces Command study, parts of which appeared in the May/June issue of Foreign Affairs, he was preparing thousands of paramilitary fighters from throughout the Arab world to defend his regime and to be used for terror attacks in the West. Looking ahead, Ahmadinejad would also be a prime candidate for such tactics, as would Chavez, given his oil wealth and the elusive links between South American narco-terrorists and Arab gangs working out of Venezuelan ports.
Dangerous stuff.

Update: Another article from the socialist press on what is behind the U.S. venom against Belarus, this one from Socialism and Liberation magazine.

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