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Wednesday, July 14, 2004

A Tale of Two Countries

Medea Benjamin compares the kid-glove treatment given by the Bushies to profoundly undemocratic and terror-supporting Saudi Arabia to the constant bashing and regime-change rhetoric directed at very democratic Venezuela. Here's how it starts:
This is a tale of two countries.

The first is Saudi Arabia, a fundamentalist theocracy that, according to the U.S. State Department, whips and beheads political dissidents; doesn't allow women to vote; squashes political protest; amputates the hands of thieves; regularly censors the press; and has been linked by numerous reports to the Al Qaeda terrorist network that was behind the 9/11 attacks.

The second is Venezuela, a republican democracy where elections are hotly contested and closely scrutinized by international observers; political rallies regularly draw hundreds of thousands of partisans into the street; an independent press routinely criticizes top government officials; and a presidential recall referendum will take place on August 15.

Both are major oil exporters to the United States. One is being singled out for criticism and the other is being shielded from it by the Bush administration. Can you guess which is which?

In the nearly three years since the 9/11, attacks the Bush administration has been criticized for failing to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for the support provided by wealthy Saudi families to Al Qaeda and madrassas -- the schools that train Saudi youth to hate America.

During that same period, the Bush administration stepped up its verbal attacks on Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Moreover, the Bush administration's involvement in removing democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti earlier this year heightened fears in Venezuela that President Bush will try to intervene in Venezuela -- after all, the Bush administration was the only government in the hemisphere that approved of the 2002 coup.
Here's how it ends.