Sunday, November 11, 2007

Chavez and the King

The contrast between moderate decency and fanatical dehumanization could not be more acute than in this story:

"Mr Chavez called Mr Aznar, a close ally of US President George W Bush, a fascist, adding "fascists are not human. A snake is more human."

Chavez has clearly passed all the intellectual barriers to genocide. I suspect only the lack of an 'other' close to hand - too many of his enemies are foreign - has prevented him taking that final, unconscionable step. He is lucky that history has not afforded him the opportunity to join the ranks of the true dictatorial monsters. His regime is pathetic, illiberal and wasteful instead of genocidal and history's judgement will therefore be less emphatic. More on the Left's fringe might even be tempted to apologise for him as too many do for Mao.

Zapatero's response was - to his eternal credit as it must have been tempting to allow the slight to his old political rival to stand - just right:

"Mr Zapatero said: "[Former Prime Minister] Aznar was democratically elected by the Spanish people and was a legitimate representative of the Spanish people."

The King put the same message in less delicate terms:

"Mr Chavez repeatedly tried to interrupt, despite his microphone being turned off. The king leaned forward and said: "Why don't you shut up?"



Meg said...

I knew almost nothing about King Juan Carlos before yesterday... now he's my favorite Spaniard.

Clark said...

I would be more impressed with the leadership of all present if they hadn't invited him in the first place. Why do world leaders insist on legitimizing tyrants?

Anonymous said...

I don't like Chavez Matt, but it is worth pointing out contrary to Clark that he was elected and has won every poll in his country since. Yes he is an obnoxious prat- there are though ethnic divisions in Venezuala and Chavez has not committed any genocide so far as I am aware from his group to the others. I think this is too harsh Matt- leave it at "he is amongst the worst democratically elected politicians in the world and shows a shaky understanding of what the rule of law means", I don't think you have any evidence for going much further.

Clark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clark said...

Not to get into too much of a back and forth, but, just to be clear:

I'm not contesting that he was democratically elected. I might question the transparency of the elections, but put that aside. Being democratically elected does not automatically immunize you from the designation of tyrant. Tyrannical behavior once in office can be labeled as such regardless of your means of ascension.

Matthew Sinclair said...


He has been voted in but not democratically. He controls a massive state-run media and is persecuting his enemies (see the asylum figures). Saddam was voted for repeatedly but wasn't democratically elected and was a tyrant.

Like I said, he hasn't committed genocide. However, I think that his outburst about Aznar being inhuman suggests that's not due to intellectual scruple but lack of an enemy close at hand.

I stand by that statement.


Ruthie said...

Gracchi, I think it's also fair to say that he's about as popular in his country as George Bush is here.

He's also massively clamping down on free speech, if the Radio Caracas thing is any indication.

Anonymous said...

Are you talking about ethnic genocide, or allowing the term to include 'class enemies'. What sort of enemy close at hand does Chavez need? Who did Stalin and Mao pick on - landowners, intellectuals, political opponents etc. I imagine Chavez has a few of them close at hand.