Venezuela is sponsoring an international conference of socialist parties in Caracas, which it pretentiously labels the Fifth International. Socialists from 40 countries, representing 50 political parties, are attending. On Friday, Hugo Chavez addressed the conclave. He praised Carlos the Jackal as a hero, describing him as “one of the great fighters of the Palestinian Liberation Organization….They accuse him of being a terrorist but Carlos really was a revolutionary fighter.” Likewise, he expressed admiration for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Robert Mugabe and even Idi Amin, who “[m]aybe…was a great nationalist, a patriot.”
News reports indicate that the assembled socialists applauded. It would be interesting to know what left-wing parties are represented. Are there attendees from the United States? If so, who? The news accounts I’ve seen don’t say.
One wonders whether there is anything left of “socialism” other than a frank admiration for evil. But what of the relatively-respectable American and European left, where Chavez is widely applauded? Is there anything to this admiration other than approval of Chavez’s anti-Americanism? It’s bad enough that cranks like Jimmy Carter, Sean Penn and Bill Ayers consort with Chavez; more troubling is the attitude of the Obama administration. President Obama has been quite friendly toward Chavez:
Perhaps the administration would say that such cordiality was only what was required by diplomacy, but Obama’s predecessors engaged in no such friendly photo-ops. Moreover, the Obama administration tried to install Manuel Zelaya as the would-be ruler of Honduras, in violation of Honduran law. Zelaya is best known as a protege of Chavez who seeks to replicate Chavez’s socialist dictatorship in Honduras. If there was something other than Zelaya’s affinity for Chavez that recommended him to President Obama, what was it?
I don’t think that President Obama fully approves of Hugo Chavez, let alone Carlos the Jackal and Idi Amin. But I wish there were a few more degrees of separation between the Obama administration and the worst tyrants of our time, and that the administration gave some sign of understanding the evil that is socialism.
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