An enduring characteristic of Barack Obama’s presidency has been his determination to implement the ideological agenda with which he arrived in office without regard for conditions in the real world. He imposed timetables for “ending the wars” in Afghanistan and Iraq unlinked to military progress. He insisted on pursuing Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, even though the leaders of both sides were manifestly unwilling. He began his second term by seeking a new nuclear arms deal with Vladimir Putin, despite abundant evidence that Putin was preparing for confrontation with the West.
Now, six years into his presidency, Obama has launched, as his first significant initiative in Latin America, detente with Cuba. It’s a torch that many liberals have carried for decades. Once again, however, the president has acted with willful disregard for current events.Uh. Oh, wait. Somebody must have dropped the script and mixed up the pages.
You see, Obama is following the same policy toward Venezuela as George Bush did, but because it's Obama the policy is now shallow, passive and misguided.
The rightwing commenters immediately pile on. See, leftism destroyed Venezuela.
In fact, Venezuela has always been a failed petrostate, since the end of World War II at least. And all US administrations since Eisenhower at least have complacently accepted whatever dictator the army threw up. You see, a strong government is a stable government, as Kissinger so helpfully explained. The United States loves dictators, most of whom are rightists, but a leftist will do.
The Post's Jackson Diehl, supposedly an expert on foreign affairs, writes:
Meanwhile, Maduro has overseen the degeneration of his country’s economic, political and social situation from abysmal to truly disastrous.In fact, it is not noticeably worse than it was before Chavez. In the '50s, when rightwingers tended to point to Venezuela as a rare Latin American success story (because it held sham elections and paid its international bonds and was not aligned with the USSR), half of Venezuelans were born out of wedlock -- in a nominally Catholic country -- because their parents could not afford a marriage license.
A 1% (or less) did extremely well, and were pointed to as a shining example of how capitalism was good.
My mother, a devoted watcher of Bill O'Reilly and usually a reliable reflector of the rightwing views in her retirement village, was talking to someone the other day who had a son (an American expat) who is abandoning Venezuela after his once-successful career changed direction. The parent said, "Venezuela is becoming a terrible place."
I offered: "It always was."
My mother then surprised me by agreeing. While she tends to accept the nonsense of Fox News uncritically, she does believe her own eyes, and (I did not know this) she's been to Venezuela.
"It was horrible. From the cruise ship, we could see whole mountainsides of garbage. But when we went ashore we passed through the most beautiful houses you have ever seen."