Tuesday, 1 March 2011

No Fly Zone for Libya & No Crap Zone for Chavez

The clear message from Libyan anti-Gaddafi fighters is that they feel they can fight and win against his forces as long as a no-fly zone is enforced. Already, the famed USS enterprize is being positioned near Libya in order to make that option available should it be required. Last night, Gaddafi blamed Al Qaeda again for the unrest in an interview with Christianne Amanpour (how does she get the dictator exclusives?), and laughed off the suggestion that he might have to step down from leadership or leave Libya.

Yet the laughter is empty, and Amanpours dictator interviews might well indicate that the end is near, with Gaddafi desperately trying to muster up the threat of Al Qaeda so that western ABC news viewers might think twice about supporting the uprising in Libya. Nobody, except a few, actually believe what Gaddafi is claiming, or are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. It seems that for most, the rivers of blood that have already flowed, and the respective calls for blood by both Gaddafi and his son Saif El Islam have proved enough of a detraction. But not for Hugo Chavez.

According to Chavez, this is all an American military plan to take control of the oil resources of Libya, as was the case in Iraq. So instead of focussing on the events of the middle east, and what may be causing those events, Hugo Chavez chooses to focus his attention on the role that America is playing. So alongside Al Qaeda, America is acting to take over Libya in what one Brazilian observer described as 'humanitarian adventurism' in an interview with RT. Chavez says that Gaddafi has been a friend to him and a friend to Venezuela (if Chavez is capable of seeing the difference), and that it would be cowardly to judge the situation from afar and condemn his friend.

Well, there is a simple solution to this. Why doesn't presidente Chavez pay a visit to Libya. In fact, why doesn't he pay a visit to Benghazi, get out of his military convoy and ask the people of Benghazi what is going on so he can find out for himself? He can even get up on the roof of an armoured vehicle and use a hailer to proclaim his support for Gaddafi, his friend. But I suppose Chavez is too much of a coward to listen to what the people of Libya have to say - his thoughts are caught up with his own treatment at the hands of the press that was controlled by the previous Venezuelan regime (where footage was manipulated to make it seem as though Chavez's supporters were firing on the then government's supporters). 

Chavez should be reminded that it was the local, state controlled press that attempted to deceive the Venezuelan people, and that it was the international press that came to his aid. Indeed, John Pilgers documentary, 'war on democracy' went a long way towards exposing the many and varied efforts that were made to scupper Chavez's ascendancy to power. It was the international press that vindicated Chavez and his supporters to the world, so painting all journalists with the same brush is misplaced.

Moreover, most of the Libyan government, diplomacy and army have defected to the protesters, and many former diplomats, generals etc have called for Gaddafi to step down - what more does Chavez need to hear?

But I suppose things get difficult when your friend creates such a mess that all that is left is a pack of pathetic lies to hold on to. Then, the best strategy is to claim that you aren't yet 'convinced', that because of your deep morality you will stand by your friend. Well, for a man of the people, Chavez seems to understand little about where his loyalties should be located, choosing to stand by one man above the suffering of an entire nation. 

But what does friendship have to do with the responsibilities of occupying the presidential office? Is it not to obtain as much information, from as many sources,  to reach a decision. As a sitting president is he not capable of requesting and receiving intelligence reports that he can rely on? Is there nobody in Venezuela who can at least put together a 'for and against' list that Chavez can use to make his case. Where is his evidence? What exactly is it that leaves him unconvinced. What more does he need to see? Perhaps the bloodshed hasn't been enough for Presidente Chavez - perhaps he needs to see more blood before he will condescend to change positions. After all, this is his friend. What do the people matter?

How ironic - after all, it was the Venezuelan people who came out in support of Chavez, and were shot and killed in the streets for his freedom. How short your memory becomes when you have powerful friends. I always thought it was lonely at the top, but I forgot what comfort powerful friends bring. Chavez's pathetic attempt at spinning this as a valiant and brave effort to stand by an ally smacks of the Bush-Blair era, where the only truth is that which is contrived in the presidential spokespersons office. It is as if Libya has only one face to Chavez, that of Muammar Gaddafi.

So revolutions are only good when the revolutionaries are on your side. When they go against you, or your friends, then the people are wrong. Plain and simple - a symptom and cause of dictatorship in its clearest manifestation. Some animals are more equal than others, in short, for presidente Chavez. He is proving that he is no better than his detractors, and that he is indeed spineless when it comes to making difficult decisions.

Friends are for your personal life. Yes, you can stand by your murderer friend if you so wish, but that is something you do alone, and in private. Upscaling it to the level of national opinion is stupid and dangerous. Hugo Chavez is not Venezuela - he is there to represent Venezuela. Indeed, the difference is vast. When you start confusing yourself with a nation there are bound to be problems on the horizon, and Latin American civil society organisations should take note. Chavez is acting in a cowardly manner, while trying to pass it off as valiant loyalty - a sickening stance in respect of the lives that are being sacrificed for Libyan liberation. And by doing so he is undermining the positive stances he has taken against the US Bush government, and in favour of the marginalised in Venezuela, as ultimately you are judged more for your failures than your successes. And this failure to take a stance, sacrificing principle for 'friendship', is a powerful indicator that a Hugo Chavez can mirror a George Bush and that the 'people' should always be wary of larger than life leaders, and the friends they choose.

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