Blogs > Liberty and Power > False Assumptions About the Chavez Win

Aug 19, 2004 2:02 am

False Assumptions About the Chavez Win

In his response to my earlier Blog Pat Lynch makes the point that Hugo Chavez and Saddam Hussein are bad, nay evil, actors. Pat writes, ”And let's not kid ourselves. Chavez is a bad guy who violates basic human rights, intimidates opponents and uses state power to oppress people.” Now, if you ask me you could very easily substitute the word Bush for Chavez in the preceding statement without any loss of validity. He talks about Chavez’s use of tear gas and water cannons, as well as, the beating of innocent bystanders. Does anyone think it is outrageous of me to predict that shortly you are going to see the exact same kinds of governmental actions in NYC, during the GOP convention? See, I am with Albert Jay Nock the enemy is the state and it does not seem to matter very much anymore who is running it.

However, when it comes to discussion of the two elections in question what I think of Chavez and Hussein or what Pat Lynch thinks of them for that matter is completely irrelevant. The only important thing is what the people who voted in those elections thought. And my point is this, the Bush Administration did not like Hussein therefore they assumed that the bulk of the Iraqi people did not like him. The administration then went on to make policy, extremely bad policy, based on that false assumption. This was a bogus conjecture because most Iraqis either were apolitical or they approved of the fact that he was a strong leader. There were millions of them and only one of him, if they really hated him that much they would have gotten rid of him long ago. Stalin was one of the most evil and destructive people who ever walked the face of the earth, yet, when he died something in the order of 1500 people were trampled to death trying to get near his coffin.

The question now is will the Bush Administration make the same mistake in Venezuela that it made in Iraq? Will it project its dislike of Chavez on to the Venezuelan people? Because, if it does we will all soon be paying $5 a gallon for gasoline. Chavez may only be distributing crumbs to the poor but if all you ever got from the government before was a boot on the back of your neck then those crumbs are probably very welcome to a solid majority of Venezuelans and they will fight to keep them.

My point about Taiwan in the first post was that we live in a country, for the time being, where we can express any opinion we want without the fear of a knock on the door in the middle of the night. Yet, only a very small minority of people express opinions in a public way. Half the people do not even vote when the ballot is anonymous. How much less participation would there be if consequences of opposition here rivaled those of Iraq under Hussein or Taiwan under Chiang Kai Shek. That does not make the knock on the door right, it just makes it a fact of life that people take into account.

As far as the democratic process and public choice goes, I have had far too many they both (Bush and Kerry) really, really, really suck conversations lately to argue with Pat Lynch on this point. And one last item in this response, I am not trying to excuse the hideous behavior of Hussein while he held power. I am merely very tired of the Johnny come lately holier than thou attitude of those who supported and encouraged Saddam while he was doing most of the ghastly deeds that they are now so exercised about. Remember many of the son’s advisors/spokesmen were also advisors/spokesmen in the father’s administration and I have this to say to the first George Bush, Dr. Frankenstein he is your monster. The refusal of those in government to acknowledge their part in what took place in Iraq and what is taking place now is but one more example of the avoidance of responsibility in our society.

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chris l pettit - 8/20/2004

Can anyone else see this as becoming a possible repeat of Nicaragua? The Sandanistas won with 60% of the vote in '84...the opposition was supported by the US illegally, and the US became the only nation to ever veto a resolution condemning it for crimes against humanity. Is another version of Iran Contra on the way?

By the ironic, speaking of violations of human rights and sovereignty, that a US firm is in big trouble re: fallacious exit polls showing almost the exact opposite of what actually happened. Between this fiasco and the "drug war" that is actually a US oil positioning and state terrorism in Colombia, I would gladly take Chavez and the Venezuelan government over our own administration in a second at this point in time...

And if you want tear gas, violence, and violations of human rights on a scale ten times higher than Chavez, a) look at Uribe's regime in Colombia, b) look at the RNC coming up soon, c) look at the US supported regime in Haiti, d) look at the opposition in venezuela and their actions during the coup that the US illegally supported (and then recognized).


Keith Halderman - 8/19/2004

My frustration is not with people who have changed their position on the war. I welcome their increased clarity. I am talking about people like Donald Rumsfeld who was shaking Saddam's hand at the same time those Kurdish villages were being gassed. Back then our government had no problem with Hussein's actions, now it is the reason that someone I know may have to die.

Keith Halderman - 8/19/2004

I will return agreement for agreement. I see an honest vote in this next election as no certain thing. When I vote here in Maryland it will be entirely electronic with no paper trail.

Pat Lynch - 8/19/2004

Keith Certainly I can agree that government power, no matter where or when, is something to be feared and questioned. But I'd still say that blurring the distinction between Bush and Chavez and Saddam is something we may just have to agree to disagree about. Also, before we buy into this notion that the Venezuelan government before Chavez was so bad, we might want to actually examine the record. I'd argue it was better for markets and liberty than he's been. Again, we can agree to disagree.

I can also share your frustration with folks who have suddenly jumped on the anti-war bandwagon lately. I can recall having shocking conversations with good libertarians right at the beginning of the war who were excusing it.....very weird.

Jonathan Dresner - 8/19/2004

Well, not entirely (I don't think all government is problematic, at least not yet), but I do enough disagreeing over here that I thought it would be nice to say.

With regard to your point about elections being relevant to their own populations, I wonder how voting security is going to affect the post-election discussion? We could be in for a dramatically more serious discussion of electoral legitimacy this time than in 2000.....