JP: Have you heard?
GF: Heard what?
JP: The latest news..
GF: Which is?
JP: That Hugo Chavez is dead.
GF: Yeah I did. What about it?
JP: Doesn’t the news make you glad?
GF: No. Why should the news of the man’s death make me glad?
JP: Well, I thought that you would be glad that a man who was deeply critical of the United States is dead.
GF: I don’t think that necessarily follows. Many people including US citizens are critical of some of America’s actions both home and abroad. Should I wish them dead too? How about you—are you happy that the man is dead?
JP: Come on—how can you not be happy that this crazy man is no more? This man who did everything he could to undermine the United States? Are you going to sit there and tell me that one shouldn’t feel at least a twinge of relief when America’s enemies are finally captured or killed? Have your forgotten Saddam Hussein, Gadhafi, Osama etc.?
GF: So it seems that you also view Hugo Chavez as a terrorist?
JP: Well if the shoe fits. People who hobnob with Fidel Castro and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have to be viewed as dangerous enemies.
GF: I see—another wonderful example of guilt by association huh?
JP: Well, a wise man once said “show me your friends and I’ll tell you what kind of person you are.”
GF: So should one then assume that you agree with everything the US does internationally and domestically? Should one assume that you support everything that the government did in the past and present?
JP: Of course not but..
GF [cuts in]: If it is possible that you can disagree with your own government (who I imagine that you think is actively looking out for your best interests), why do you think that people in other parts of the world—especially people whose countries or economies or governments might have been negatively affected by US policies—cannot similarly disagree with the US vehemently?
JP: Yeah well if you allowed me to finish, I was going to say that the difference here is that I have not by any action of mine sworn bitter enmity against the US. I can discuss my disagreement with any government policy without constituting myself a threat to the government. People like Hugo Chavez were committed to the destruction of the United States.
GF: Ok, so if, God forbid, a US president or top politician dies after battling 2 years of cancer, you will similarly be okay with seeing pictures on television of people in countries that traditionally see the US as hostile dancing and partying in the streets because of the death of that American president, yes? Of course since they would already view the deceased American president as inimical to the general interests, your logic says that it is perfectly okay for such people to be happy that an enemy is dead, right?
JP: I guess so although to be perfectly honest with you, when I mention being a little glad, I wasn’t going overboard with it. It seems to me the idea that people might be dancing and partying is taking it a bit too far.
GF: Different strokes for different folks. You celebrate yours how you see fit, and don’t worry how others will celebrate theirs. However, the end result is the same—people exulting over the death of their perceived political enemies.
JP: It is rather disheartening GF to see you attempt to make this news a sad thing. Tell me, how long did you mourn the loss of Osama?
GF: Even though I realize that you are indirectly trying to paint me an Al-Qaeda sympathizer, I have to sharply remind you that Osama is not comparable to Hugo Chavez. If it can be argued that Osama Bin Laden was the aggressor and the initiator of the feud between the US and AlQaeda, the same cannot be said of Venezuela and Hugo Chavez. Actually the record will show that while the two countries have growing economic relations, diplomatic relations between the countries are strained on account of the fact that Hugo Chavez believes either rightly or wrongly that the US is involved in coup plots and attempts to destabilize the Venezuelan government. It would appear that in Venezuela’s case the US is the aggressor. One only needs to review past history to see America’s complicity in the various coup plots, assassination attempts and military interventionism that has rocked that area.
JP: Yeah but these are simply baseless claims made by a hyper-paranoid little man. Hugo Chavez is a socialist, and part of his power and charm is to rally the masses. To his credit, he was able to channel the oil windfall into providing the basic necessities of life for his people. This won him broad domestic support. But above all, he knows that to remain relevant, he had to tap into fierce Venezuelan nationalism. This is why he is carefully blaming all his shortcomings on the US, that callous international bogeyman, and manufacturing all sorts of spurious allegations to compel the allegiance of his people.
GF: You don’t work in the state department, and you are not privy to the classified documents which specify in greater but possibly alarming detail what policies various administrations have taken against persons (heads of state or otherwise) or countries deemed unfriendly to the US. The fact that Hugo Chavez kept his evidence or sources close to his chest, as opposed to dropping it on CNN, is actually something commendable. The US government also doesn’t drop every secret memo they have out there for you to peruse to determine whether an executive action was warranted or not. As a matter of fact, as Wikileaks has shown, there are loads upon loads of classified documents which the US would rather not have you see; some of these detailing the magnitude or the severity of several disruptive policies marshaled out against enemies of the US.
JP: It sounds like you are too easily swallowing every anti-American conspiracy out there. If the man had any evidence of any sort showing the Us government’s culpability in coups or things of that nature, surely he could have produced it in some form or fashion even if not to CNN or any other internationally recognizable news outfit. Now that he is dead, be careful that you do not become one of these people who are spinning conspiracies to the effect that the US had a hand in the man’s death—possibly that his cancer was the result of some clandestine biological attack.
GF: It sounds to me that you are perhaps too quick to dismiss the lessons of history, or perhaps too quick to absolve the US government of actions that might be anti-humanitarian or even anti-democratic. You need to examine the US government’s long track of complicity in the region in the recent historical past to see that these actions are for want of a better term “textbook plays” employed by the government. Secondly, unless you are being naïve, you cannot tell me that you think it beneath the government to tell lies or attempt to doctor facts to present the US in a favorable light or worse hide US miscalculations from the public. Believe what you will. Personally I do not care but please allow the Venezuelans and Chavez’s family to mourn the loss of their beloved one.
JP [laughing]: Easy mate. It is just a discussion.
GF [laughing]: of course it is. And by the way, you may not have too long to wait before Fidel Castro also dies. Then you can really throw a party and go hog-wild!