Two Steps Back

Add another anti-US leftist to the Latin American leader list. Evo Morales is the new Bolivian president after winning the election. Champaign likely now flowing at the homes of Castro and Chavez.

And in a retro act of warm n' fuzzy Talibanesque nostalgia, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who seemingly can't go a week without pushing Iran further back into the Dark Ages, has banned Western music from television and radio. Can't have Gwen Stafani interfering with denials of holocausts and dreams of wiping countries off the map, I suppose.

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I dream of wiping all

I dream of wiping all countries off the map.:end:

While discouraging by

While discouraging by itself, Iran's ban on Westernism is a good sign because it means the threat posed to that system by Western culture is clear and present. They're getting desperate.

I agree with Randall. I

I agree with Randall. I think the best way to promote something is to ban it (i.e. Prohibition, War on Drugs, etc)

You do know that one of

You do know that one of Morales' major planks was opposition to the Drug War, and one of his major bases of support were Indian coca-leaf growers who were under systematic assault from the previous government, right?

I think the outcome in Bolivia may be more mixed than you give it credit for.

What Rad Geek said. Morales

What Rad Geek said. Morales is a dink, but there may be a silver lining here.

And as for Ahmadinejad, there's already been one attempt on his life. Expect more. I give him two years.

say what you like about

say what you like about Ahmadinejad, God knows he probably deserves a good deal of it, but at least he's not a mealy mouthed weasel like much of our western politicians. And the calls for sanctions on Iran, simply because he denounced the holocaust are sheer idiocy. Punishing 68 million people because their leader doesn't accept the history of the holacaust and has the audacity to say so. Disgusting!

You do know that one of

You do know that one of Morales’ major planks was opposition to the Drug War, and one of his major bases of support were Indian coca-leaf growers who were under systematic assault from the previous government, right?

Yep. I consider this a small positive, relatively-speaking.

And the calls for sanctions on Iran, simply because he denounced the holocaust are sheer idiocy.

I completely agree.

I can understand the anger

I can understand the anger of the coca farmers. Rich people in the U.S. have a lot of nerve telling poor farmers in another country what they can plant. To the extent that the leaves go into cocaine, it's rich Americans buying the cocaine.

I don't see what's to be so

I don't see what's to be so Blase' about. I, for one, am very concerned that a figure as pathetic as Castro should arouse such sympathy around Latin America- it speaks to the consequences of US policy in the region, something we're all complicit in. Whatever one might think of Evo Morales or Chavez, there's little doubt that they are popular figures with grassroots political support and those are exactly the type of figures who should be in power (as opposed to say, a US-chosen business leader like a Colero figure.) Have a ganders at western (esp. US) policy in Bolivia over the last 25 years (or longer if you like) and then try decrying their irrational "anti-americanism."

I felt tempted to respond to this post because Im concerned about the concept of "anti-americanism" creeping into the typically rational Libertarian discourse. It's really just a short-cut past thinking which is intended to imply something unexplainable and irrational, like a holocaust denier or something. Many questions should be posed before thoughtful people like yourselves use such fascist concepts, among them:

a. what sorts of "american" values are we assuming that they oppose?
b. are they justified, based on their history, in opposing those sorts of values?
c. are such values "american"?
d. what evidence is there that such values are actually opposed by these people or states?

... and so on.

By using a concept like "anti-american", you've managed to dismiss, however insubstantially and irrationally, the grassroots victory in a direly poor country which has been trampled on by US and western interests for decades. You've also managed to miss what's perhaps the major aspect of this election: the war on drugs and the bolivians' rejection of it; something you should be in favor of as a libertarian.

I second Matt27, and concur

I second Matt27, and concur with Rad Geek on Morales's opposition to the drug war; in fact I linked to a story a week back on Strike the Root about how Morales was planning on decriminalizing coca. Sanders Research has an article (subscription required) on the true popularity of Chavez, contra the American idea that he is actually some kind of unpopular populist - a contradictory concept - who is squashing democracy and thugging his way to power. Unlike Castro, who has been in power for decades and inspires people to brave shark infested waters, Chavez and Morales have actual grassroots support so far, drawing crowds that are voluntary and quite enthusiastic.

Can someone tell me which politicians want to impose sanctions on Iran for holocaust denial? Sounds like an equally EU and American thing to do.

Sanders Research has an

Sanders Research has an article (subscription required) on the true popularity of Chavez, contra the American idea that he is actually some kind of unpopular populist - a contradictory concept - who is squashing democracy and thugging his way to power. Unlike Castro, who has been in power for decades and inspires people to brave shark infested waters, Chavez and Morales have actual grassroots support so far, drawing crowds that are voluntary and quite enthusiastic.

We may be reading different media, but I haven't gotten the impression that Chavez is portrayed as unpopular. He's the latest in a long tradition of South American populist thugs like Allende and Lula.

Lots of heads of state have had popular appeal; Hitler did. Lots of policies have popular appeal - the US Drug War, protectionism, minimum wage, and ritual recitation of the pledge of allegiance in school. It doesn't say anything about their value.

And give Chavez a few decades; he'll make Castro proud.

Jonathan, you were sharp to

Jonathan, you were sharp to call me out on my assertion that Chavez is viewed as a kind "unpopular populist". Here are some examples of the "American ideas" I was refering to:

http://www.townhall.com/opinion/columns/peterbrookes/2005/04/04/15013.html

http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0RMQ/is_44_10/ai_n14895831#continue

http://worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=45916

Dain, I read the links, and

Dain,

I read the links, and I still don't see where he is portrayed as "unpopular".

From Townhall: >>Chavez

From Townhall:
>>Chavez recently announced his intent to export his "Bolivarian revolution" (read: Cuban revolution). Considering his disastrous socialist economic and repressive political record at home, we'd better stop him before he gets started.

From Weekly Standard:
>>Always proceeding with the patina of popular support and the pretense of legality, he has used a constituent assembly to establish a new constitution giving him wide powers.
>>
Chavez first ran for president on a reform platform, winning in a landslide.

From WorldNetDaily:
>>"There was a popular coup that overthrew him," Robertson said. "And what did the United States State Department do about it? Virtually nothing. And as a result, within about 48 hours that coup was broken. Chavez was back in power. But we had a chance to move in. He has destroyed the Venezuelan economy, and he's going to make that a launching pad for Communist infiltration and Muslim extremism all over the continent."

>>"We have the Monroe Doctrine, we have other doctrines that we have announced," said Robertson. "And without question, this is a dangerous enemy to our south, controlling a huge pool of oil, that could hurt us very badly. We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability."

That was from Robertson. Chavez's popularity comes from his criticism of N.American imperialism, consistent since the 19th century. So why, exactly, is it so hard to understand that Chavez is popular with the poor (the majority)?

Sanders Research, "Demosthenes was Right":
http://www.sandersresearch.com/Sanders/Newsmanager/Index.aspx

Given the article above, it may be more appropriate to criticize the US government, namely the State Department (a politicized vehicle for US interests, not democracy in the abstract), rather than the general US media. My links point to NeoCon outfits specifically...

I couldn't help but post

I couldn't help but post this. After actually typing the term "unpopular populist" into google, the first article that appeared was about Chavez!

Catholic World News:
http://www.cwnews.com/news/viewstory.cfm?recnum=30081

But again, despite Chavez's actions, he appears, in truth, to remain quite popular.

(Also, if my previous post appears twice (the second somewhat different), I apologize. The rate at which the site posted my messages was slow, so I thought it didn't work the first time..)

Matt, By using a concept

Matt,

By using a concept like “anti-american", you’ve managed to dismiss, however insubstantially and irrationally, the grassroots victory in a direly poor country which has been trampled on by US and western interests for decades. You’ve also managed to miss what’s perhaps the major aspect of this election: the war on drugs and the bolivians’ rejection of it; something you should be in favor of as a libertarian.

Fair enough. Forget the ill-advised “Anti-Americanism” term in my original post. OK, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way…

Here's what you and I likely agree upon: The War on Drugs is ridiculous and the move to 'legalize' coca leaves and thumb their nose at the US War on Drugs is a good thing. Also, previous governments in Latin America have been corrupt, and hardly exemplary governments anyway.

[Granted, previous governments were held up as free market failures, even though the economies were hardly free at all. It created the “direly poor” conditions you site. Thus, this economic model has been unfairly discredited in that region.]

Here's where it looks that you and I disagree, not to mention where many libertarians and I disgree: Coca leaf "legalization" - how free/unregulated will it actually be? - is a small consolation prize compared to having another Cuba Lite in the Andes. Instead of a neo-liberal government in power that would attract badly-needed foreign investment (and also have a similar rational approach toward the ‘War on Drugs’), the likes of Venezuela and Bolivia have opted for reviving the spirit of good ol’ celebrity Che.

While the government may have Hands Off the coca farmers, its hands in nearly everything else tends to cloud my enthusiasm a bit. I just don't find the leftward lurch of Latin America as reason enough to stand on the rooftops and shout Yippee!, legal coca or not.

Also, previous governments

Also, previous governments in Latin America have been corrupt, and hardly exemplary governments anyway.
it's worth noting here that Latin American governments are not exemplary usually because the US has intervened to keep them from being so ("exemplary" here being defined as representing the interests of most of the population.)

[Granted, previous governments were held up as free market failures, even though the economies were hardly free at all. It created the “direly poor” conditions you site. Thus, this economic model has been unfairly discredited in that region.]

Sometimes they were held up as "free market successes" too, until they failed. The requirements of the IMF in the 80s and 90s fits free market doctrine about as closely as something can (certainly more closely than what the US does)- the fact that these policies don't work ARE evidence of a free market failure. It hasn't been "unfairly" discredited.

Here’s where it looks that you and I disagree, not to mention where many libertarians and I disgree: Coca leaf “legalization” - how free/unregulated will it actually be?
those aren't synonyms, because "unregulated" in your vocabulary probably means "regulated by huge private companies." Who cares though? It's certainly preferabe to state enforced defoliation, and it's what the people of the country want.

- is a small consolation prize compared to having another Cuba Lite in the Andes.
the idea that it's the US's business to subvert democracy in other countries because we hate tiny little castro in tiny little cuba so much is what gets us into these problems in the first place. You or I may not like it, but who the hell cares?
a. we don't have the right to defoliate crops in other countries (unless Thailand has the right to defoliate tobacco fields in north carolina)
b. we don't have the right to pick which leaders are the best for other countries

End of discussion. That takes care of both points.

Instead of a neo-liberal government in power that would attract badly-needed foreign investment (and also have a similar rational approach toward the ‘War on Drugs’), the likes of Venezuela and Bolivia have opted for reviving the spirit of good ol’ celebrity Che.

Bolivia had a neoliberal government and didn't attract any foriegn investment. They even had EPZs! They didn't get anything, because they are a land locked poor country with low infrastructure, and a transport system that had already been destroyed by market forces. You wanna know why they don't like neoliberal policies in Boliva? Look at the history of Cruz Blanca and the railway from Cochamba to La Paz- one of the economic and social strengths of country, closed down because it wasn't profitable enough.

I just don’t find the leftward lurch of Latin America as reason enough to stand on the rooftops and shout Yippee!, legal coca or not.

I'm not crazy about Chavez's politics either, but I'm really excited that America is so weak that other countries are finally achieving some level of independence (we likely would have attacked Venezuela by now, in some way, if we weren't already in Iraq.) The fact that Latin Americans finally have a say in their own affairs, regardless of what we think about such a say, is a good reason to say yippee.

Lots of heads of state have

Lots of heads of state have had popular appeal; Hitler did. Lots of policies have popular appeal - the US Drug War, protectionism, minimum wage, and ritual recitation of the pledge of allegiance in school. It doesn’t say anything about their value.

It does prove that the world isn't black and white and that popular doesn't ALWAYS mean good. However, I'd say that as long as the leaders aren't
a. enacting genocide
or
b. attacking another country

a popular leader, especially if elected, is legitimate and should be applauded regardless of other policies. A democratic governing body like the UN should decide if either of these two things are violated (and they have done so in the past, subverted only by the US and sometimes Israel) and act accordingly.

I think you're attacking the wrong point here though anyway Jon. I'm not contending that Chavez's politics are good because he's popular; I'm contending that his politics are good for his country because he's popular. With the exception of a and b up there, I think that's reasonf for support.

And give Chavez a few decades; he’ll make Castro proud.

He may, and so long as he holds regular, fair elections and doesn't violate a and b he'll have my support regardless of his politics.

The requirements of the IMF

The requirements of the IMF in the 80s and 90s fits free market doctrine about as closely as something can (certainly more closely than what the US does)- the fact that these policies don’t work ARE evidence of a free market failure.

The IMF is not a free-market organization.

“unregulated” in your vocabulary probably means “regulated by huge private companies.”

"Unregulated" to a libertarian means the government will not use violent force to prevent the peaceable efforts of individuals to grow, cultivate, and sell harmless plants. What does it mean in yours?

[...] 3, 2006 thugs

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