By Dylan Matthews
First off, thanks to Ezra for having me over again. It's always a treat hanging out with you guys.
So former ambassador to Venezuela/Assistant Secretary of State/chief Bush administration filibuster Otto Reich isn't pleased about Obama's Latin America policy. And when writers at The Corner find a foreign policy approach they disagree with, you know what analogy's coming:
In varying degrees, Chávez, Bolivia’s Evo Morales, Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega, Honduras’s Manuel Zelaya, and Ecuador’s Rafael Correa are abusing their presidential powers to change the rules of the game. They are all allies of Chávez in what he calls “21st-century socialism” which is what. So far, this socialism recalls nothing less that the beginning stages of the socialism which was established in the first half of the 20th century in Russia, Italy, and Germany. I doubt a U.S. president would have given a warm handshake to any of those leaders.
There are oh so many problems with this, not least that the Nazis and Italian fascists were not socialists by any reasonable definition of the term. But moreover, it's worth considering why, say, FDR would have been hesitant to be photographed with Hitler in 1938. It's not that Germany were dictatorial; if that were the criterion, Roosevelt couldn't have talked to most of the globe. It was that Germany was taking over much of Central Europe. And was on the brink of war with American allies. And was in the process of building an immense land army capable of conquering an entire continent.
Now, if Venezuela had a military as well-funded and as on par with America's as the Third Reich's was, and was in the process of absorbing up Guyana and parts of Colombia or something, that'd be one thing. In that situation, Obama probably shouldn't have shaken Chavez's hand. But Venezuela is quite poor with any incredibly weak army and no expansionist tendencies. Small differences, but perhaps relevant.