Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Mar 29/06 - On the use, and abuse, of Asymmetric Rhetoric: Hugo weaponizes his tongue

Whose weapon will be more effective?

PMBComment: This is a quote that trumps the Clintonite “Maisto Doctrine" ("Do not judge Chávez by his words, judge him for his deeds") once and for all. It also explains why a confrontation with the US is not only unavoidable, but also desirable from the chavista perspective.

Hugo Chávez

”He who intends to seriously undertake - in Latin America, a transformational project, unavoidably, sooner rather than later, will clash with the North American empire, and the confrontation is necessary the way I see it because confrontation defines”

March 28th, 2006

"Quien pretenda hacer de verdad en América Latina sobre todo, un proyecto de transformación, inevitablemente, más temprano que tarde, chocará con el imperio norteamericano y el choque es necesario además así lo creo porque el choque define".

Marzo 28, 2006

If more evidence is needed about the futility of trying to establish a dialogue with Lt. Col. Chávez, this video clip - is proof of the mental state of the man some US ultra "liberals" see as part of their anti-Bush arsenal. One can only hope that their hatred of President Bush will, at some point, be tempered - particularly when it comes to choosing allies - by real facts and real reason. The REAL enemies of the US - and of the universal values it embodies (with some blatant contradictions) - are having a field day thanks to the most superficial and polarized domestic political environment in decades.

Asymmetric warfare is the Bolivarian revolution’s plan to confront the “Empire”, as you will see from the video, it is clearly being played out - verbally - to perfection....and to boot, it has fans in the US. PMB

VIDEO LINK: while I assume you have all seen, or read about, the infamous Aló Presidente with the almost 3 minutes anti-Bush outburst ("Mr Danger you are a ...donkey, drunkard, assassin, genocide..."), I am including the link to it - with ENGLISH subtitles - so you can share with those who have not seen it, those who do not speak Spanish or those that still advocate that the solution is to reduce the level of Washington's anti-Chávez rhetoric. (the latter, by the way, was achieved rather swiftly with the summary dismissal of Roger Noriega, who had become Chávez’s favored “enemy”).

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Mar 16/06 - On a military perspective of a military problem: will Chile lead?

Should we count on her experiences with the military?

PMBComment: Click here to read the full version of the 2006 posture statement of the commander of US Southern Command. It was presented to the Senate Armed Services Committee on the 14th and will be presented to the House Armed Services Committee today. It gives General Craddock's overall assessment of Latin America...from his rather unique perspective.

As my interest is focused on Venezuela, I have cut-and-pasted the section that refers to my country. The Chavez government has already responded, via its preferred US-basher - Vice President J.V. Rangel - stating that these comments are proof that the US has "militarized its foreign policy". Rangel derisively added "I am bored with all the statements coming from Washington...I do not feel like responding to them any more".


"Venezuela. Although Southern Command continues to seek opportunities to work with the Venezuelan military, our efforts have been hindered by the Government of Venezuela. Our military-to-military relations have eroded considerably over the last 12-18 months. We will continue to seek opportunities to foster partnership and cooperation with the Venezuelan military. Additionally, we will continue to invite the Venezuelan military to participate in exercises, conferences, and training events. We believe that the politicization of the Venezuelan military is threatening our long-standing, fruitful military-to-military relationship.

Another area of concern with regard to Venezuela is the government’s ongoing procurement of weapons. Their buildup of military hardware has not been a transparent process and is a destabilizing factor in a region where nations are arraying themselves to confront transnational threats, not each other. We remain unconvinced that the breadth and depth of the buildup is mandated by Venezuelan concerns for national defense."


Do keep in mind that for a long time Southcom has been rather silent on Venezuela. Even though it is obvious to the simplest of minds that what we have in Caracas is a military government, Secretary of State Powell had issued a gag order on the US military, and tried to have his diplomats ignore the fact that Venezuela's President is first-and-foremost a mid-level and mediocre military officer, surrounded first-and-foremost by mid-level, mediocre and corrupt active duty, and retired, military officers. Nothing but soldiers (actually mostly coupsters) hiding their red berets under the scalps of second-rate politicians!

As one prominent and seasoned US Senate staffer told me long ago: "Of all the things Hugo Chávez has done, the worse one is meddling with and politicizing the military. That is a very dangerous thing to do in a democracy and that alone could determine the ultimate fate of your country. This is certainly how civil strife begins; it is harder to tell how it ends". Sensible words in a city that since the April 2002 fiasco has opted to ignore the tusked elephant in the room. While Gen. Craddock's words might fuel the omnipresent paranoia in Caracas, it is clear that shedding ample light on what is going on in the Venezuela Military - militias included - is of paramount importance for Latin political analysts and even casual observers. PMB

Note: Maybe with the recently announced absorption by the OAS of the Junta Interamericana de Defensa, this deadly serious subject will receive the requisite public attention from Venezuela’s other neighbors. And while we are at it, why not expect more from Chile for example? Keep in mind the following: Chile's OAS Ambassador Tomic led this momentous initiative to bring military matters to the OAS's main table; a former Foreign and Interior Minister from Chile leads the OAS with typical decisiveness, and Chile's former Defense Minister is now running her country. All three suffered long exiles as a result of a wayward military. Is it too much to ask that they take the lead on this?

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Mar 14/06 - On the Kremlin's disease: is there a cure for DARVENSAZIMUS?

Illarionov now the definitive outsider

PMBComment: on February 6, I posted a commentary on a “blunt and troubling” OpEd written by Andrei Illarionov, who until December was President Putin’s very outspoken economic advisor (and until a few months before, also point man for G-8 matters). Last week, I had the chance to listen to Illarionov at a conference titled The Rise of the Corporate State in Russia that he delivered at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C.

While it is hard to recommend that you - my readers - take 50 minutes of your valuable time to view the video of his stunning presentation, I am certain that you will not be disappointed. It is a deliberate, documented and dead-serious debunking of the Kremlin’s official line in every respect. I have seldom seen such comprehensive undressing…and never by such a recent insider.

DARVENSAZIMUS is the disease that Illarionov says Russia has contracted. While I can always leave it at that and tempt you to google the symptoms, let me simply say that the name comes from the mix of:Dutch Disease, Argentinean Disease, Venezuelan Disease , Saudi Disease and Zimbabwean Disease. According to Illarionov, such nasty mix of economic, political and social distortions preclude Russia from being a member of the G-8, which is, after all, the most exclusive club of industrialized democracies. Adding insult to injury, he crafts an alternative G-8 in which Russia fits like hand in glove…that you must see, hear or read by hitting any of the links below.

I would welcome comments. Hope Putin does too.


The Rise of the Corporate State in Russia

Tuesday, March 7, 2006
4:00 PM

Featuring Andrei Illarionov, former Economic Adviser to President Vladimir Putin.

The Cato Institute
1000 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001

Watch the Event in Real Video
Listen to the Event in Real Audio (Audio Only)
Download a Podcast of the Event (MP3)

Mr. Illarionov's PowerPoint Presentation

Russia has become richer but less free since President Vladimir Putin came to power in 2000. Andrei Illarionov will describe how the Kremlin’s policy decisions in the past few years have given rise to a new corporate state in which state-owned enterprises are governed by personal interests and private corporations have become subject to arbitrary intervention to serve state interests. The reduction in economic freedom is negatively affecting political freedom, civil society, and foreign relations. Illarionov --who, in protest of government policies, recently resigned the post he had held for six years-- will discuss the role that oil wealth has played in creating the corporate state, Russia's dim development prospects, and the possibility of restoring basic liberties.

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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Mar 13/06 - On the a new flag and an old tactic

PMBComment: Distractions are needed, and common, when reality bites hard. If bread is becoming scarce, and people are demanding change, bring in the circus. That is what Mr. Chavez has delivered in the form of a new flag and a new crest of arms for his “Republica Bolivariana”. Ignoring the fact that the current National Assembly has an infinitesimal mandate, he defiantly got them to rubber stamp his wishes and produce new national symbols. “Allah is great, but Hugo is brilliant” sang the choir.

That priorities are others is of no concern to a man that wants to establish that nothing stands between him and his infuriating desire to rewrite our nation’s history and obliterate our nation’s future. Whim and wastefulness are now set to fly from hundred of flag posts and be plastered on every possible wall, badge, uniform, banner, screen and credential. What a brilliant use of public funds, almost better than buying oodles of Argentine bonds.

Of all the new flag designs that I received, the one above best reflects Venezuela’s sad predicament. A growing red band forces the blue band that must now accommodate an eighth star. Like the infamous viaduct, and so much more, the arch of stars simply collapses. The horse in the crest has been replaced by a shinny white plane flying to the left and the upper left quadrant symbolizes the new ethos of the regime: cash or, more precisely, dollars. Pity they did not choose this one. But what the hell, if the emperor is stark naked, why not let him use a new flag to make believe. PMB

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