The Freedom Agenda Strikes Again

Of course, Saakashvili’s “Rose Revolution” never was a democratic movement.  That much is obvious.  So it would be deeply mistaken to describe the continued U.S. backing of Saakashvili as a contradiction or betrayal of the “freedom agenda”–the “freedom agenda” has always been aimed at the empowerment of local oligarchic stooges who will align their governments with ours, and Saakashvili has certainly fit the bill.  That is the whole point of the “agenda,” and how these lackeys rule at home has never been Washington’s concern.  The internal affairs of other states concern Washington in inverse proportion to those states’ alignment with the United States. 

In this way, we can understand why Washington continues foolishly to back Musharraf and will persist in its hostility towards Venezuela’s Chavez, despite the marked similarities in their styles of government and the clear destabilising effects all three rulers are having on their respective countries.  Chavez doesn’t play ball, Musharraf occasionally does what Washington (again often foolishly) calls on him to do, and Saakashvili is a reliable lackey, and they are treated accordingly.   

Cross-posted at Eunomia

  • Sam W.

    Mr. Larison makes a brilliant and concise statement of U.S. policy. If everyone would read it, there might be a change for the better. Alas, today is Veteran’s Day, so the American religion of military worship goes front and center. Ever notice how the politicians treat the military as infallible as the Pope?

  • Paul

    Daniel Larison, I think you’re way off with your remark about Chavez’ style of government being the same Musharraf’s. As everybody knows Chavez has won again and again in open elections and even with his recent proposals to remove the existing presidential term limits, he is operating fully within democratic rules of the country. If Venezuelans don’t like the idea of presidents staying on longer they just say no in the coming referendum. As a libertarian leftist I sympathize with his aim of making the poor share in the oil wealth of the country. Your dislike of that kind of program should not make you blind to obvious facts. And honestly, not to be pestering or anything, but this kind of remark really for me is less than inspiring when it comes to keeping on supporting Antiwar.com, which I have done for several years now out of the idea that war is a concrete evil over which right and left should come together.

    • Kyfho Myoba

      Were the voting machines in the Venezuela elections made by Diebold?

  • Chavez’s use of hooligans to batter his opponents seems similar enough to me. It may be on a smaller scale, but the principle is the same. I take your point that there are differences between Chavez and Musharraf’s governments, but when it comes to the use of violence against opponents the difference is not that great. The Guardian reported on Saturday:

    Masked gunmen opened fire on a university campus in clashes between pro- and anti-Chávez groups in Caracas on Wednesday. The university said the government used thugs to intimidate protesters but Mr Chávez blamed the marchers.

    But my point in my post is not to attack Chavez. I do disagree with his economic policies, but they’re not my business and they’re not the issue. I certainly don’t regard them as a good reason for our government to adopt a hostile attitude towards Venezuela, and elsewhere I have ridiculed the hostility shown by U.S. politicians towards Venezuela. What I mean to say is that Washington vilifies regimes based not on their merits and flaws with respect to how they govern at home, but solely on how willing regimes are to serve Washington’s goals. Perhaps this is obvious to most people who visit Antiwar.com, but I thought it was useful to point it out again given the coincidence of the protests in all three countries.

    I mean to draw attention to the stark double standard applied to different foreign governments based on their acquiescence to U.S. government foreign policy. My hope in talking about the three countries together was to make clear that it is not the internal or domestic policies of the governments in question that have anything to do with U.S. support for them. My purpose here was to try to show once again the hollowness of the government’s ideological justifications for their policies, and to stress the real objective of the “freedom agenda,” which has always been power projection and hegemony, which I think all of us here oppose. I think we can come together on this point at least. If my post wasn’t clear enough, I hope this explanation will set things right.

  • George Kurian , India

    Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro are not the dictators they are made out to be. Both have concerns for the deprived people in their respective countries and are doing better than the capitalist west in looking after the poor, thank you.There are restrictions and it seems that if those restrictions on free speech and freedom are lifted America would come in with its CIA musclemen.
    The American media controlled as it is by powerful individuals of a certain persuasion has given both of them a bad name. Why don’t they say the same about China or Arabia? Because China is ripe for capitalist pickings and Arabia buys arms and supplies oil. Free speech and human rights in Arabia please.

  • Paul

    Daniel, thanks for your reaction. I fully understand the point you were making in your post and Chavez’ policy just being a minor element in it. But again, as your reaction to the Guardian piece shows, I think your dislike of that policy leads you to believe immediately the bad things his Venezuelan opponents accuse him of. There’s a considerable track record of Western journalists doing exactly that in the years Chavez has been in power, most blatantly the accusation of “Chavez thugs” firing on a anti-Chavez demonstration just prior to the 2003 coup to oust him. John Pilger’s recent film shows this episode. So I am not prepared, as you apparently do, to grant credence to the anti-Chavez voices in that Guardian piece but none to the denials by the Chavez-side.

  • Bill K.

    Well I don’t think the Guardian is absolutely unbiased about Chavez.

    They do write that there were “clashes” between 2 sides. And it is possible they “mis-represent” the shooters as the Upper Class Elite in Venezuela do have their own armed thugs.

    I too don’t believe it is fair to rate Chavez the same way as Musharraf, because at least Chavez does not create a bloodbath in his own capital at a major religious site just because he disagrees with a religious sect. Furthermore at least Chavez uses oil to benefit his people and does not enrich Western oil companies by letting them use his land to export oil(like Saakashvili).