Saturday, June 07, 2014

Maduro, Assad and Foreign Policy

Bashar al-Assad's government claims he own 88.7% of votes and won the Syrian presidential election. I don't think any reasonable person could believe Syrian votes actually matter, or that Assad presides over anything other than a dictatorship. Yet Nicolás Maduro issued a statement congratulating Assad and how the vote affirms his leadership and shows how the Syrian people desire peace.

I've written before how Venezuela often seems to define its foreign policy by doing the opposite of what the United States wants, using the language of anti-imperialism. Openly praising dictators takes it just one step further.

This reminds me of how the U.S. government praised clearly venal and dictatorial governments in Latin America during the Cold War. It is really a mirror of the Venezuelan stance now. The United States government didn't really care about El Salvador or Guatemala--it cared about the Soviet Union. Similarly, the Venezuelan government doesn't care about Syria--it cares about the United States.

Praising those who deserve none is geopolitical and primarily about sending signals. In the U.S. case, it was about being firm against Marxism. In the Venezuelan case, it is about being firm against the Empire. Both deserve only scorn.


Alejandro Velasco,  9:50 PM  

No doubt Maduro deserves scorn for praising Assad. But your piece seems to imply that that the days when the US supported dictatorships, in Latin America or elsewhere, primarily for geopolitical reasons is long past. Is that an accurate reading?

Greg Weeks 7:11 AM  

No--I am referring to the lavish and bogus praise bestowed upon dictatorships as a way to send signals to a third party. All countries have relations with some dictatorship but that particular mirror seems very apt.

Alejandro Velasco,  8:18 AM  

Right. Thanks for the reply. I suppose I was thinking of the praise the US bestowed on Honduras and Paraguay in 2009 and 2011 coups. Those days hardly seem past, and the mirror still very much active.

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