Years ago I argued that the individual’s only recourse left, in countries ruled by totalitarian regimes, is the use of violence. Apologists of Hugo Chavez, by definition a totalitarian dictator, have thought that citing me out of context somewhat invalidates me, and my opinions. In the course of the last few years though, we have observed a profound radicalisation of Hugo Chavez, who has gone from coup leader to mad dictator, openly supporting totalitarian regimes, and terrorist organisations around the world.
Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech yesterday in Oslo, contains what would amount to a justification of war on certain moral grounds. Obama went on to say that King’s or Gandhi’s non-violent movements could not have defeated Hitler. And right he is. For both King and Gandhi confronted governments that were, at the very least, aware of the existence of human rights, even if, in practice, these were systematically violated in the case of some ethnic groups. To believe that Jews would have defeated, undermined, or somewhat weakened Hitler, by staging non-violent protests, is a mistake. A more contemporary example is that of Cuba, where human rights and democratic groups find themselves at the complete mercy of Fidel Castro, his brutally repressive security and intelligence apparatus. Certain people/groups simply refuse to accept the other on equal terms. If follows that consideration for the other’s rights is, quite simply, out of the question.
The Nazis considered Jews to be sub human beings. Islamic fundamentalists are convinced that infidels are just as much. Terrorists tend to have similar positions. In such cases, dialogue is entirely pointless. One of Hugo Chavez defining characteristics is precisely his warped understanding of democracy and human rights. For Chavez sees these as mere tools, as convenient formulas to solve certain issues. For instance, Hugo Chavez has said that Colombian narcoterrorists deserve recognition and belligerent status. Hugo Chavez has claimed that Carlos The Jackal is one of Venezuela’s revolutionary heroes. But he flatly refuses to grant equal consideration to Venezuelan political opponents, even when democratically elected. What this means is that, in practical terms, Hugo Chavez has the same consideration, for what he perceives as his enemies, than that of those who perpetrate abominable crimes for ideological reasons. Furthermore, Chavez thinks of his political opponents in clearly fascist terms. Let us not forget that Chavez himself is directly responsible for many deaths, occurred in 1992 and 2002.
Obama said something that ring true: “For make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism — it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.” I would have thought he was talking about Venezuela and chavismo, and can only add that I find myself in complete agreement with what Obama said yesterday.