Bush v. Chavez

Bush throws a punch; Chavez shrugs.

The US is to impose a ban on arms sales to Venezuela, US state department officials have said.

Spokeswoman Darla Jordan said the decision was taken because of lack of support by Venezuela's government for counter-terrorism efforts.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez later responded that the ban "doesn't matter to us at all.”
And it probably doesn’t, considering Venezuela is basking in an oil bonanza.

The ban on arms sales is in response to “repeated warnings” from the US to Chavez’s administration to stop allowing two Colombian guerrilla groups from using Venezuelan territory. I don’t know the first thing about Venezuela’s relationship with either group, the Farc and the NLA, so I can’t comment worth a damn on the wisdom or necessity of the Bush administration’s decision to start issuing sanctions on Venezuela over it.

Here’s what I do know: I have so little faith in the competency and willingness to operate in good faith of the Bush administration that I automatically assume it’s a stupid maneuver. That’s not a good thing. It’s not a good thing for me to make assumptions like that, which is why I’ve now got to go educate myself on the issue, but it’s also not a good thing that our government has squandered every last shred of trust so thoroughly that I don’t believe for a moment that anything they do could possibly be motivated by good intentions nor done in our best interest.

I also know that Chavez, who has said Venezuela will not respond in kind, instead swatting away this decision like a gnat, comes out looking like a rose to anyone who doesn’t know the back-story, no matter who’s right, because Bush is so thoroughly, deservedly hated and distrusted.

The great irony here is that as Bush bumbles so spectacularly on the international stage, he serves as the perfect foil for Chavez, who becomes increasingly popular with his anti-empire rhetoric (much of which is spot-on), even as he shows much of the same disregard for democracy as his nemesis. But who will convince him that his vision cannot be realized at the cost of his nation’s democratic process, rule of law, and constitution? Not us, that’s for sure.

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