Sunday, March 18, 2007


I have an Op-Ed about Bush's trip in today's Newsday. The editors rearranged a few things and tweaked it a bit, I think to make it sound a little more controversial.


Justin Delacour 1:40 PM  

The "empathy" of any U.S. administration to Latin America is invariably bogus because American politics inevitably caters to the demands of big finance and big business, whose interests are far from identical to the interests of non-elite sectors of Latin America. In Jorge Castaneda's "Utopia Disarmed" (1994), he had the right idea when he said that South America should regionally integrate through Mercosur and eschew FTAA so as to avoid the asymmetries of full integration with the U.S. economy. Ironically, that's exactly the direction in which South America is moving today, but Castaneda's own political ambitions have unfortunately clouded his vision. It's a lot easier to gain notoriety among the U.S. political establishment and get published in, say, Foreign Affairs or Foreign Policy, if you're bashing Hugo (and thereby singing the political establishment's tune).

Greg Weeks 2:01 PM  

I agree to a certain extent, though I heartily disagree with the idea that one cannot criticize Hugo Chávez without somehow being complicit in the machinations of the political establishment. As I've repeated in this blog many times, there is much criticism to go around everywhere, establishment or otherwise.

Justin Delacour 2:26 PM  

"I heartily disagree with the idea that one cannot criticize Hugo Chávez without somehow being complicit in the machinations of the political establishment."

Well, sure, one could criticize Hugo Chávez without necessarily being complicit in the machinations of the political establishment. But if one's objective is to advise the U.S. political establishment on how to defeat South America's attempts toward greater integration and independence (which is exactly what Castaneda seeks to do nowadays, under the guise of isolating Hugo), one would quite clearly be complicit in the machinations of the U.S. political establishment.

Greg Weeks 2:54 PM  

OK, I get the point--you dislike Castañeda.

Justin Delacour 3:37 PM  

No, actually the point is much broader. The truth of the matter is that even the so-called "good left" --not only Lula, Kirchner and Vazquez but also Bachelet-- opposes U.S. attacks upon Chavez. They've repeatedly stated as much, including at Davos, when Lula countered Calderon's disguised attacks upon Chavez by pointing out that Chavez had been elected, fair and square, on multiple occasions. Thus, it should be clarified that, when U.S.-based intellectuals (Castaneda, Corrales, Weyland, etc. etc.) bash Chavez under the guise that they prefer Latin America's "good left," they are not speaking for Latin America's "good left." The "good left" neither bashes Chavez nor wishes for a newly invigorated imperial counterweight to Chavez. Thus, when U.S.-based intellectuals counsel more vigorous U.S. efforts to counter Chavez, they should at least be honest enough to acknowledge that their positions reflect not those of the "good left" to which they pay deceptive lip service but rather to those of the U.S. political establishment.

Greg Weeks 3:42 PM  

OK, so if you criticize Chávez, you are not good.

Justin Delacour 4:02 PM  

Uh, the attempts to be pithy aren't even slightly clever. Pure obfuscation. Since you're obviously not willing to discuss matters in any meaningful sort of way, I'll just make a couple short comments. Whether one is critical of Chavez is not what's at issue here. It is the policy prescriptions that often accompany such criticisms that are at issue.

Greg Weeks 5:23 PM  

My intent was not pithy obfuscation. My interest is in criticizing where criticism is due, and my policy prescriptions would not be related to futile attempts to isolating Chávez.

Anonymous,  5:50 PM  


Justin Delacour has been peddling the Chavez revolution for years, he and a few others have been roaming the Venezuelan blogs for years. Any debate with him is futile, to him Chavez is Gods gift to the earth.

Justin Delacour 6:24 PM  

Well, I'd be happy to see your criticisms of Chavismo. Naturally, no government is above criticism. Unfortunately, much scholarly criticism of Chavismo (especially that of Corrales) is itself littered with either verifiably false or grossly decontextualized information. At times, Corrales hasn't even gotten Venezuela's social indicators right, despite the fact that the numbers are readily available.

So, by all means, be critical. But if you're truly interested in furthering our knowledge of the subject, I would make sure that you get your facts straight and that you not decontextualize events. Only solid scholarship --not ideologically-driven pablum masquerading as scholarship-- is going to further our knowledge of the subject.


Greg Weeks 6:51 PM  

And to think, this was a post about an Op-Ed criticizing Bush policy.

Justin Delacour 7:04 PM  

Whether or not one criticizes Bush policy is not a litmus test of whether or not he or she shares the general imperial objectives of the U.S. political establishment.

Anonymous,  8:33 PM  

Greg, nice Op-Ed piece. Some of the responses on Newsday's website defy explanation.

As for the "Imperialist objectives of the US political establishment", the US government's responsibility is to defend American interests, no matter who occupies the White House or Congress. Every other government in the world does the same thing. The fact is that the US happens to be larger than most countries, so American interests often lie beyond our own borders.

Isolationism will work neither for the US nor Latin America's benefit. Anti-globalization is counterproductive to the future growth of economies and the families who reside within those economies worldwide.

Justin Delacour 9:20 PM  

"Isolationism will work neither for the US nor Latin America's benefit. Anti-globalization is counterproductive to the future growth of economies and the families who reside within those economies worldwide."

I'm glad you're able to get that talking point off your chest, mike. Thomas Friedman would be proud.

Talking points aside, there is no evidence to support the case that "globalization" as we know it has brought greater prosperity to the world. Since 1980, world growth rates have actually been less than they were from 1950 to 1980. (There was an interesting article about this in the Middle East Times recently: "Globalization Still Hurts Poor Nations").

Moreover, the concept of the "national interest" is loaded. U.S. economic elites work very hard --through their control of media, think tanks, etc.-- to convince the public that their interests are the "national interest." Nonetheless, even if we were to accept elites' questionable definition of the "national interest," it doesn't follow that said "national interest" is perfectly compatible with other countries' "national interests."

The Mercosur countries are interested in a process of regional integration independent of the United States. While U.S. political and economic elites might not see Mercosur's policies as in the United States' "national interest," the governments of Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela obviously have a different conception of where their interests lie.

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