Monday, April 20, 2009
Another Way of Dealing with Chavez
A few people are ticked off over President Obama's handshakes and bear hugs with Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez at the fifth Summit of the Americas, which ended yesterday in Trinidad & Tobago. While the sight of our president laughing it up with Chavez is unpalattable, such is the cost of Obama's New Deal: democracy with a smile, not military threats.
Leading the chorus of tea partyers and Obama haters on CNN was senator John Ensign (R-Nev): "This is a person [Chavez] who is one of the most anti-American leaders in the entire world [...] He is a brutal dictator and human rights violations are very, very prevalent in Venezuela. And you have to be careful. When you're talking about the prestige of the United States and the presidency of the United States, you have to be careful who you're seen joking around with."
True, we can spend the rest of our lives talking about how horrible Chavez is. But we can also make an attempt to re-establish diplomatic relations with a country that is exerting a lot of influence in our hemisphere. As Latin America teeters dangerously toward the left and many leaders continue to use words like Yankee Imperialism, it's up to us to respect the sovereignty of these nations and their elected officials - whether we agree with them or not. Unless you think we can afford a war with Venezuela, Bolivia, Iran, North Korea, and anyone else who doesn't want to play nice with us.
Our president is setting an example for the way diplomacy should work. This doesn't undermine our military might nor does it compromise our national security but places the responsibility of reciprocity squarely on the shoulders of leaders who tell their people that the U.S. is out to get them. We're certainly capable of armed combat but we're open to a softer approach - let's give that a chance for now.