"The world is not a lodging-house at Brighton, which we are to leave because it is miserable. It is the fortress of our family, with the flag flying on the turret, and the more miserable it is the less we should leave it."
-G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy
This here blog is a glimpse or two or three at the condition of the 'fortress of our family' through the eyes Timothy Goddard, a Christian writer with an unhealthy interest in politics living in the Puget Sound area.
Thoughts on Venezuela from South america I got an email from my friend in Bolivia with some other, very good thoughts on the situation in Venezuela.
You asked what Bolivians think about the strikes in Venezuela. They don't think much about it. Just politics as usual. You see I had a free vacation yestday myself. The roads to and from school were blockaded by strikes demanding there rights. This is not an odd thing. On the contrary this is the first step in solving any problem in a third world country. Don't do it democratically, do it through protests. I asked my partner computer teacher what he thought about Venezuela and he told me basically this.
I disagreed with the oppinions expressed in your blog almost completely. I understand where you are coming from but solving short term problems by not following your constitution is always a bad idea.
You said three things that seem very short sighted and really disturbed me.
"[M]y sympathies definitely lay with the anti-Chavez group--friends of Castro's are rarely good leaders--but it's hard to tell from it whether or not the opposition is any better than Chavez himself."
"[T]he White House "tacitly endorsed" it, which is probably true--and good for them. The problem is that military leaders, while good at pulling off coups, are bad at running countries, and that is what Venezeuela needs. This Alfonzo sounds like a much more level headed fellow."
"Venezuela needs new elections immediately,"
First off, the major difference between Chavez and Castro is that Chavez is the duly elected president of a democratic nation while Castro is the militarily backed dictator of a communist country. Even if they share a common set of bad ideals two wrongs don't make a right. As long as Venezuela remains a democracy people like Chavez will only get to practice their bad ideals for the length of their term and then they will be removed through the democratic processes laid down by Venezuelan law. A great example of someone combatting what they believe to be an evil government by going outside the law is Fidel Castro himself. As long as this politic is practiced law breakers will continue to over throw each other, then government run monopolies will not only continue to exist but they will continue to be run poorly.
Okay onto the second statement. I have gotten to spend a good deal of time around British common wealth citizens here in Bolivia. From everywhere around the world they all seem to agree on one point. The United States' foriegn policy of medaling causes as many problems as it solves, if not more. They point out the way that we fought the cold war and ended up arming the middle east and Afganistan as needed to help us first fight Russia and then to fight each other, would have been better left undone. I agree with the Bush doctrine as well as the Truman doctrine and I'm all for rooting out terror from the face of the earth but I think that Venezuela is hardly a terrorist threat and that playing in their politics for our own selfish gain is as dangerous as it is wrong.
New elections immidately? Would you grant new elections to the democratic party because they didn't like the outcome of the last elections? I didn't think so. If their have been high crimes or misdemeanors committed things need to be handled through propper impeachment procedures instead of as a reaction to a mob. The United States showed perhaps our greatest strenth in respecting the outcome of Clinton's impeachment trials and respecting the interpretation of the supreme court in vote counting in Florida. Any country that can hold up through these situations has earned the right to call itself a democracy. I say that if Venezuela survives the rule of Chavez without another coup or an early election, they can proudly hold their heads high and say, we belong to the first world not just economically but politically aswell.
I live in a country that has seen first hand the effects of coups. For the first time in more than 20 years in 1985 Bolivia experienced it's first change of government through the political process and not through coups or murder. They have been able to follow the political processes over since and the country has been much better for it. And I fully support the right of the current government to rule to the end of it's term even if I haved dubbed them Nazi's and drug dealers in the past. Respecting the law of the land even when you disagree with what the leaders do and say is a very Biblical concept as well as a practical one. It looks to the future instead of attempting to solve the short term problems.
Even though we both voted for Bush last time and both will again in 2004, I respectfully disagree with you about South American foreign policy.
P.S. I say a great bit of graffiti the other day whose exact words I don't remember but translated to "Goni is the goat child of a prostitute."
And, this is what I said in return...
Thanks, Micah. Do you mind if I put that email up on the blog? It's good stuff.
I think you misunderstand a couple things I said. One, I'm all for people "endorsing" things, tacitly or not, without stepping in. I think that's a bad idea in Venezuela, even moreso than in Iran. So that's less a "foreign policy"
an just an opinion. America should, as I said in another post "keep its grubby hands where they belong--around the throat of Saddam Hussein."
I think new elections (very different than a coup, which would be bad) are needed just for practicality's sake. I'm unclear what Venezuela's constitution actually says regarding them, just that Chavez claims that he can't run them until next year. If he can't do that constitutionally, then he really should resign. Nixon resigned, and it didn't throw our political system into chaos. I honestly don't see how either of those things disqualifies them from being a democracy.
Another big problem in Venezuela is their absurdly long presidential terms. Chavez is in power until 2007? Eesh.
Last, if Chavez was in any way involved with the recent killings, he should be impeached.
Good democracies have failsafe measures, and Venezuela is in need of one.
And, lastly, here is his response in turn.
Please do post my note to you.
I still disagree with you about new elections. If the constitution allows it then go for it. If it is making something up to solve a short term problem then it should require an amendment to their constitution not a mob. The same thing goes for shorter presidential terms. Amend the constitution but don't stop following laws just because the president does.
As for endorsing things happening in other countries. Thanks for the clarification. I guess by beef lies with the whitehouse's oppinion not with yours.
I am unsure of which killings you speak, I assume they are protesters who were killed during a protest recently. Should a president be removed because someone who is loyal to him uses unnecisary roughness? May I remind you that riots were exceedingly violent in the United States just 40 years ago. The US is good about judging others based on the fact that we have overcome that sin the past. I think this is the number one reason to be judgemental. The number two reason is that you have never had a certain sin. I really don't know if there are any other motives for judgementalism.
Meanwhile, go check out El Sur for lots more updates as to the situation in Venezuela.
Posted by Timothy9:47 AM
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