Friday, December 23, 2011

Fighting Hugo

If you call the government of Hugo Chávez a "radical Islamist regime" then you are loopy. There is no reason to do so unless you want severe policy changes. I think Stephen Walt sums up the logic nicely.

There is a simple and time-honored formula for making the case for war, especially preventive war. First, you portray the supposed threat as dire and growing, and then try to convince people that if we don't act now, horrible things will happen down the road. (Remember Condi Rice's infamous warnings about Saddam's "mushroom cloud"?) All this step requires is a bit of imagination and a willingness to assume the worst. Second, you have to persuade readers that the costs and risks of going to war aren't that great. If you want to sound sophisticated and balanced, you acknowledge that there are counterarguments and risks involved. But then you do your best to shoot down the objections and emphasize all the ways that those risks can be minimized. In short: In Step 1 you adopt a relentlessly gloomy view of the consequences of inaction; in Step 2 you switch to bulletproof optimism about how the war will play out.
To be fair, I don't think most of those who hate Chávez want war, but they do want him out and the author of this piece was a player in supporting the Honduran coup. As with Honduras, we have a stew of real problems, total fabrications, hatred, half-baked arguments, and politicians repeating the word "threat."


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