Comment, Comics and the Contrary.
Now, many take the practice of influencing democracy in the Western Hemisphere to be the historical prerogative of the United States. Indeed, so wide is their mandate over the political shape of their extended fiefdom of the Americas in toto that action has not been limited to influencing democracy, but subverting or quashing the very political system that the United States holds to be morally superior. However, President Bush and the more public relations attuned announcements of the neo-conservative movement would have us believe that the spread of democracy was the God-given mission of the United States. Destiny, even.
It seems, therefore, that when the many times elected leader of a democratic country offers funding to democratic political organisations abroad we should regard such actions as admirable. However, if this is a many times elected leader of a democratic country who has had to fight off a United States supported coup and United States funded upper- and business-class organised turmoil, then the correct attitude from the Divine Home of Freedom, the Shining City on the Hill, is condemnation. Not because of concerns over democracy, as the Chávez’s Bolivarian revolution is radically democratic and participatory. No, rather because of concerns about freedom, considered almost entirely in terms of freedom of economic action. So long as that economic action is not redistributive or an extension of industrial democracy.
James Hill, the former head of the US army’s southern command, which oversees military operations in Latin America*, is reported as saying that “it is quite proven that he gave money to Evo Morales... and continues to do so.” This, apparently, is cause for serious concern in the current US administration, with Condoleeza Rice describing Chávez’s foreign policy as ‘troubling’. While both Morales and Chávez deny the link in terms of funding, acknowledging only ideological inspiration, I fail to see how even if the funding does exist this is any different from US support for Mikhail Saakashvili in Georgia or Viktor Yuschenko in Ukraine. Indeed, given the relatively paltry financial and organisational support that Chávez could possibly provide, when compared to that the US could deploy, it can be argued that Chávez’s ‘meddling’ in the democracy of another nation is less damaging to democracy than the standard American intervention.
Nevertheless, condemned he is. And why? Well, it could be that, as he is brown-skinned and a non-English speaker, he cannot be trusted. It could be a new doctrine in American foreign policy; we support work towards democracy in all nations, but if you are a dago you cannot be trusted with the task. But no, it is not that. It is simply economics. Chávez practices redistributive economics, with the aim of allowing all Venezuelans to share in the nations wealth. No doubt Morales would too. This, while strengthening the hold of democracy, is incompatible with American aims for economic and cultural dominance. So we are back to Kissenger, who said, in his support of the murderous Pinochet: “I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go Communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people.”
*Consider for a moment, that the Brazilian military had an analogous ‘northern command’, which defined its theatre of operations as North America, and whose general commented on American politics. Add in a history of Brazilian funding for American paramilitaries, and… oh, you get the picture. Americans would regard it as the most terrible thing ever, but their lack of reflexivity prevents even a modicum of self-examination, analysis and criticism.