Monday, January 25, 2010

Jorge Castañeda is a Big Fat Cunt: A Well Thought Out and Soberly Editorial

Newspaper editorial pages are rarely worth bothering with, except to glean some schadendfreude from the intolerable levels of stupid that emanate from them.

So it was with great delight that I opened up the editorial page of the Dallas Morning News to read a lengthy editorial from The New Republic entitled "Adios, Monroe Doctrine" by one Jorge Castañeda. In a word, Jorge argues that Obama is actively abandoning the Monroe Doctrine because he is "no longer willing, or perhaps even able, to select who governs from Tegucigalpa, or anywhere else in the region for that matter." There is an element of truth to the latter claim, as the states of Latin America are finally beginning to determine their own destiny without foreign interference, but this is not due to a lack of trying on the part of the United States government. Noam Chomsky explains in a recent edition of In These Times:

"During the past decade, the United States has increased military aid and training of Latin American officers in light infantry tactics to combat 'radical populism'—a concept that, in the Latin American context, sends shivers up the spine...

The U.S. Fourth Fleet, disbanded in 1950, was reactivated in 2008, shortly after Colombia’s invasion of Ecuador, with responsibility for the Caribbean, Central and South America, and the surrounding waters.

Its 'various operations include counter-illicit trafficking, Theater Security Cooperation, military-to-military interaction and bilateral and multinational training,' the official announcement says."

Castañeda considers the fact that the United States did nothing to restore Manuel Zelaya to power in Honduras a "remarkable" and "transformative" moment in US history. In flat defiance of Occam's Razor, he argues that the non-action on behalf of the White House did not signal tacit support for the coup government, but rather a rejection of 200 years of American foreign policy in the region.

Untruths besides this one abound in his article. "Since George H.W. Bush's invasion of Panama, there have been no unilateral military interventions, no coup plots or new embargoes, not even the propping up of decaying regimes." The coups in Venezuela and Haiti over the past decade apparently do not count. Furthermore, only "the left, mainly" would like to see a "unilateral end to the Cuban embargo." This is true only if you consider the majority of the business world to be part of "the left." Hugo Chavez, Jorge tells us, "has already shown a penchant for mischief, particularly within Latin America. So far, he has meddled successfully in the electoral processes of smaller countries -- Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Paraguay, El Salvador, Honduras -- and much less successfully in larger nations -- Mexico, Peru, and Columbia." I have no idea what half-truth, if any, this propaganda lie is based on. At any rate, even if it were true, it would be completely inconsequential when compared to the systematic campaign of mass murder that the United States government has visited upon the unlucky nations of Latin America for decades, and to imply, as Jorge does, that the United States has a responsibility to curb such "Venezuelan adventurism" is the height of hypocrisy.

I don't like Chavez. But for the mainstream media to hammer into people's heads, time and again, that he is a dictator rather than the duly elected leader of Venezuela, is disgusting. It is a terrible, malicious lie. For a "liberal" publication such as the New Republic to engage in this violence against the truth is a sign of how quickly and diligently contemporary media is working to erode any tangible sense of reality in the American public. In fact, I question whether or not the media itself has left any tangible sense of reality. For Jorge Castañeda to argue that the Monroe Doctrine is being abandoned while as we speak the US military is occupying Haiti is truly bewildering.

Jorge argues that "unfortunately, this new strategic environment is precarious." We could stand to isolate Chavez with out "benign neglect," but then Chavez might do something that the United States government could simply not tolerate. For example, he might crack down on dissent in Venezuela, and the US government has obviously always been a stalwart defender of free speech across the world. Or even worse, he could interfere in our attempts to starve the Iranian people into submission. This would be, in the eyes of Castañeda, "truly destabilizing." If our policy of "benign neglecty" impugns our ability to dish out benign cruelty, then, according to Castañeda, the United States should "abandon its deliberate passivity."

In closing, note that while Castañeda approves of the United States distancing itself from the Monroe doctrine, he has no moral reason for doing so. In the cost-benefit analysis, this is simply the most effective thing to do, in his estimation. This is how the imperial mentality works. The extreme left end of the spectrum argues that we ought not to crush indigenous peoples when it behooves us. As long as people like Castañeda serve as the far left voices of our public discourse, our democratic values are threatened.

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