Sunday, March 2, 2008

chavez and the big boy chair.

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

Hugo Chavez has amassed ten battalions of troops near Venezuela's border with Colombia and has closed the Venezuelan embassy in Colombia.

The Collective's stance on Chavez has been clear since day one--that is, we're not big fans. It isn't that we're's that we don't stand for the stifling of basic human and civil rights.

Basically, the Colombian military force attacked FARC forces in Ecuador--the attack was not an attack on Ecuador itself, but understandably, this could be construed as a violation of sovereign space.

Understandably, Ecuador's prez Rafael Correa is upset--but he isn't the one amassing troops. Laughably, Chavez is the one rallying the boys on the border.

The most basic question that needs to be answered, of course, is "why?". Venezuela has no part in this other than to flex its regional muscle.

You've got to love this Chavez quote: ""We don't want war, but we will not allow the North American empire -- which is the master -- and its sub-President [Alvaro] Uribe and the Colombian oligarchy to divide, to weaken us. We will not allow it.""

It's always a non-sequitur party with this guy, isn't it? I mean, fine, America has a history of not liking anti-governmental, socialist/communist/anarchist guerilla groups, but I really don't see any connection between this event and "the North American empire" whatsoever.

Chavez went on to call the Colombian prez Uribe a "liar", a "criminal" and a "gangster". Pot kettle black?

I don't want to get all conspiracy theorist on everyone, but come on--it's the oil, stupid. Political strife and uncertainty (war!) means a rise in demand (to be assured reserves are high) and a drop in supply (no one to get it...shift from production to fighting...refusal to sell in order to keep it for one's own war efforts).

But just a few days back, Chavez said that the US needed to watch its step if it wanted to continue to get the 1.5 million barrels of oil that it imports from Venezuela daily.

Chavez seems to think that he just gives this oil to the US free of charge. I don't really know if he understands the market forces or basic economics. If he denied the US the oil that it bought, the US would get it from somewhere else. He says he has a lot of suitors that want his Texas tea--but really, it doesn't matter who's buying your product as long as it gets sold.

Chavez said, out of nowhere "You create your front, Mr. Danger, we will create ours. We are going to defeat the empire."

What? Where does a talk about ceasing oil flows go to calling President Bush "Mr. Danger" and "defeating the empire"? Does Chavez pull these trite propaganda lines out of his ass? It's like he doesn't even care about context.

"The government of the United States should know that if they go over the line, they are not going to have Venezuelan oil." Fine. I don't think my car cares much about what sort of oil it gets.

The thing about politics, to me, is that I think change has to be done incrementally. In this sense, I'm a system reformer. I feel that a lot of people have these grand ideas about how the system needs an overhaul (indeed, it might), but the channels in which these revolutionaries go about things are completely off. You don't take down an oppressive regime by forming a merciless "communist/socialist" band of guerillas and take office that way. It doesn't serve the people any better--look at Castro's Cuba, the USSR, and Chavez' Venezuela. You can't really say that the people at large in any of these countries are any better because of their new leaders. Their ideas may sound new and their rhetoric may seem fresh, but the only thing that changes are the fatcats with the money and the power.

A lot of people, especially idealistic peers of mine, feel that change has to be sweeping and widespread and quick. This is incredibly unrealistic. The political system in this country needs to change, but it can't do so overnight--and I'd be scared if it did. These "system transformers" like to buy and sell these grand ideas for change, but once they assume power, they most often maintain the status quo.

If all of this makes me seem less liberal than others, I'm not all that bothered. I used to think that it meant that I was losing my edge, but, as the (radiohead) saying goes "pragmatism, not idealism". Be sensible. Be rational. I firmly believe that a lot of domestic and international systems need to be changed, but I think the most practical way is to be pragmatic and take it incrementally.

Rome wasn't built in a day--but the Vandals destroyed it in one. I think that's the most telling idea: positive change is something that takes awhile. Rapid overhauls, though, rarely do more good than bad.