Jeff Goldstein, one of the blogosphere's best humorists, has a very useful post about Hugo Chavez and the inevitable fallout among the Left (and Right) over conservative Christian personality Pat Robertson's call for Chavez's assassination. Robertson may be a fool for his candor, but, as Goldstein reminds us, let's not forget who the real villain here is. Quoting Thor Halvorssen's piece in a recent issue of The Weekly Standard:
Ch?vez first ran for president on a reform platform, winning in a landslide. What few understood then was that Ch?vez planned to revolutionize the country following a plan masterminded by his longtime friend Norberto Ceresole, an Argentinian writer infamous for his books denying the Holocaust and his conspiracy theories about Jewish plans to control the planet.If democracy is about anything, it's about exposing cults of personality.
The title of Ceresole’s 1999 book on Ch?vez and Venezuela, Caudillo, Ej?rcito, Pueblo ("Leader, Army, People"), eerily recalls the German national socialist maxim, “One People, One Country, One Leader.” (The first chapter is titled “The Jewish Question and the state of Israel.") After denying the Holocaust, he explains that the greatest threat to Chavismo comes from the Jews of Venezuela. A self-described Communist and fascist, Ceresole became an expert in national socialism after designing Juan Domingo Per?n’s electoral platform in Argentina. In Ceresole’s hands, representative democracy mutates into “participatory” systems led by cult-like figures; tellingly, Ch?vez praises the “participatory democracy” of Libya, Syria, Iran, and Cuba. Ceresole’s structure channels the people’s will through the charismatic strongman; the military functions as the central political body. Ceresole’s roadmap for Venezuela suffered some setbacks, including a 2002 coup that displaced Ch?vez for 48 hours and a national strike that almost toppled the government. But Venezuela’s dramatic political metamorphosis was nonetheless complete by the time Ceresole died in 2003.
Chavismo’s purpose, however, is not just to create a stable autocracy. At its core is a far-reaching foreign policy that aims to establish a loosely aligned federation of revolutionary republics as a resistance bloc in the Americas. The Chavista worldview sees the globe as a place where the United States, Europe, and Israel must be opposed by militarized one-man regimes.
Though Robertson clearly overstated the case—at least insofar as he spoke publicly, which will allow Chavez to play up his already legendary paranoia and anti-Americanism by tying Robertson’s statement to the official government line—it is nevertheless imperative that we don’t lose sight of who the real villian is here. Unfortunately, I suspect our own press will do just that, aiding Chavez by playing up the connection between the social conservative base—understood to be Bush’s staunchest supporters (though that itself is debatable)—and Roberstson’s brand of religiosity. Which, while predictable, would be a shame, nevertheless.Don't forget that Venezuela supplies us with about a seventh of our oil imports ---and Chavez has routinely threatened to cut us off if we cross him. I think he's nutty enough to do it ---even at the risk of hurting his own economy.
So, enjoy ripping into Robertson as a hypocrite and as a prominent ally of the Bush Administration all you want, but recognize the vast difference between the moral culpability of these two men.