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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Catching up

Congratulations to Hugo Chavez on his re-election in Venezuela. I agree with WIIIAI that some of the things Chavez says (or is misquoted as saying) suggest that he is less than totally committed to democratic principles. But I'm quite convinced of three things which make me happy he was re-elected:
  1. He is definitely the choice of the majority of Venezuelans. The opposition is a large and vocal group, but the Chavistas are a much larger and just as vocal group (although not heard as clearly here in the US).
  2. He has used oil money for the benefit of most Venezuelans, especially in education and healthcare.
  3. Charismatic opposition to US global hegemony is badly needed, and so far Chavez is the best (and with oil, the most powerful) available at the moment. Derailing the FTAA is a huge benefit to the vast majority of people in the western hemisphere, including the US, and Chavez should get most of the credit for that.
Calling Bush the devil is just a bonus. Glenn Greenwald has an interesting post on how the mis-administration's goals of pissing off the entire world and pushing for democracy at the same time tend to serve American interests badly.

It has quickly become common wisdom, from the newspapers to the cartoons to the Daily Show, that Vladimir Putin was responsible for the death of Alexander Litvinenko in London. Chris Floyd points out that this common wisdom is largely the result of a PR offensive from fugitive Russian billionaire Boris Berezovsky and some media pals of his. Floyd, unlike Bush, is no Putin fan, but his post makes it clear that the situation is very murky, and what we "know" comes almost entirely from some disgruntled exiles. While I'm sure that there have been many very righteous exiles in history, it seems as though their statements should generally be taken with a grain of salt, whether they be from Iraq, Cuba, Venezuela, Russia, or even the US. In this case, Putin and the Russian government apparently do not have the PR muscle to counteract what the exiles are telling the press, so the exiles' claims go unchallenged (except by Floyd).