[OPE] Venezuela and Human Rights Watch

From: Jurriaan Bendien <adsl675281@tiscali.nl>
Date: Sat Sep 20 2008 - 16:57:59 EDT


I think there's no real evidence that the US has intentions to invade Venezuela, Bolivia or Cuba, although various scenarios have no doubt been drawn up which meantime sit in the policy cupboard, and there's a bit of the usual subversion here and there - but actually Latin American intelligence services are getting a whole lot better at spotting CIA and other subversive Yanqui geeks in their country.

It is true that there are still some maniacs in the NSC, and one hopes that if Mr Obama wins the election, all those people will be purged. That is in fact the main reason why one would support Mr Obama's candidacy: there's a real prospect then that a lot of doctrinaire weirdo's and PNAC-type christofascists would be purged from the upper echelons of power, making way for people more in tune with 21st century realities.

In the Iran-Iraq war both sides were fairly evenly matched, perhaps Iraq had a slight edge in the end, but it was thankfully realised the war was really unwinnable. A conservative Jewish site has an insightful comment:

"The US. was in a strange position throughout the war: It wasn't sure exactly how to react. Policymakers definitely did not want Iran to emerge victorious. The consensus was that Khomeini was a serious threat to the stability of the region and to US vital interests, notably oil supplies and Israeli security. On the other hand, Saddam was viewed as a psychopath backed by the Soviet Union who was less of a threat to American interests, but certainly no friend. Thus, the policy that emerged was to support the pro-Western regimes in the region, bolster their defenses, and hope the combatants weakened each other to the point where neither would emerge from the war as a regional threat to the region." http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/arabs/iraniraq.html As I noted before, the West had armed both sides at the same time, leading to gruesome carnage.

After the Iraq experience, it is much more difficult to bribe countries into a legal mandate for war adventures. It is obviously quite feasible for the US to bomb Iran to smithereens, but leaving aside the immorality of the endeavour it isn't practically feasible to conquer that country permanently and establish a stable new regime. Possibilities for invasion only really arise, if there is a genuine civil war, in which case you can support one side, or if the society is seriously disintegrating. In this respect, General Petraeus's perspective makes a lot of sense - "you can't kill your way out of an insurgency", somehow you have to get people on side, and that is the usual political issue of convincingly uniting the people who are on your side, and dividing the opposition. If you're unable to do that durably, military intervention just leaves a very costly mess.

The Left often makes the mistake of attributing much more power, surety, knowledge and capability to imperialist governments than they really have. This is a more or less paranoid reification. In reality, the functionaries constantly have to deal with uncertainties, policy fashions and personal conflicts behind the scenes. Obviously it does not help the Left, if it attributes more power to the opposition than the opposition really has. Real politics begins when you are no longer weakening yourself and strengthening your opponent, but strengthening yourself and weakening your opponent; trumpeting how weak you are and how strong your opponent is, is Quixotic.

Rajiv Chandrasekaran, a Washington Post journalist, has for instance written a sharp, satirical account of "Imperial life in the Emerald City: Inside Baghdad's Green Zone" (2006) as he experienced it himself, which would be Kafkaesquely funny, if you ignored America's brutal holocaust in Iraq. It reveals a shocking mess of bureaucratic bungling by a whole coterie of American rich kids trying to perform an imperial mission. He shows not only how cunningly manipulative these people are, but also how whackily naive and stupid they can be. I thoroughly recommend it to Leftists, or anyone else interested in understanding America's christofascist foreign policy styles, and the pitfalls of managerialist hubris. This is incidentally another reason for why Mr Obama's presidency is desirable: there is a possibility that the accent could shift from America's bungling military and financial adventures destroying countries, to the good and progressive things that America undoubtedly also does for the rest of the world, in terms of providing food, resources and technical aid that actually builds countries up, rather than breaking them down. It is the people doing that, who ought to get power in the US, not the imperialist "missionaries".

I would say that the biggest threat to Venezuela, Bolivia and Cuba is bad socialist economics - an unrealistic, doctrinaire approach to ownership relations; a paranoid hostility to financial economics, premised on the idea that the general aim is to get rid of markets altogether because they are all bad; and an unwillingness to experiment with different organisational styles to create a better life. That is not realistic, one sign of which is that they have to import e.g. a large amount of food and other basic items that they could be producing themselves at less cost. It is also unhelpful, if you project enemies for whose existence there is no evidence. All the historical experience we have, suggests that postcapitalist societies function best in the foreseeable future with a combination of a strong public sector and a private sector, with sufficient military power to safeguard the needs of the creators of goods and services, the direct producers, who carry the rest of society. That is precisely the advantage which a socialist state has: it can experiment with a variety of property forms and organisational styles to see what works best for human development, rather than just make do with commercial dogma. But obviously if it isn't even possible to organise a healthy and accurate public discussion about these things, you're just going to alienate more and more people.


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Received on Sat Sep 20 17:00:09 2008

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