Hugo Chávez and Tibet: our readers write

Our June issue featured the story “Enough With the Hugo Chávez Hero Worship” by Nikolas Kozloff, in which he calls out the Venezuelan leader for supporting Beijing’s position on Tibet and dismissing the protests against the Olympic Torch as an example of the US “empire” “going against China.” Kozloff writes that it is “time for left to repudiate Chávez over China—while supporting the overall goals of Bolivarian Revolution.” Our June Exit Poll was: “Should the left repudiate Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez over his public backing of China’s crackdown in Tibet—while still supporting the overall goals of the Bolivarian Revolution?” We received the following responses:

From Joe Wetmore of Autumn Leaves Used Books in Ithaca, NY:

Why does it have to be all or nothing? Can’t we support the decisions we agree with and denounce those decisions we disagree with?

World War 4 Report replies: You appear to have not understood the question. We called for exactly that. We proposed that Chávez be repudiated over his public backing of China’s crackdown in Tibet. We proposed that it was possible to do this while still supporting the overall goals of Bolivarian Revolution—the wealth redistribution, the extension of public control over resources and corporate power, the literacy programs, the agrarian reform, the general struggle to break free of the US imperial orbit.

From Geoffrey Gardner, somewhere in cyberspace:

Yes, we should repudiate Chavez.

From Russ Hallberg, somewhere in cyberspace (who slugs his e-mail “don’t repudiate chavez”):

Hugo Chavez should be criticized for his support of China’s occupation of Tibet. However, Tibetan nationalists and the Dali Lama are backed by the CIA. It is unlikely a “free” Tibet would be anything more than a puppet for Western interests. Tibetan nationalism is a psyops to solicit the support of the US left for CIA agendas.

World War 4 Report replies: You know, that’s pretty paranoid, dude. But we’re heartened that at least you think Chávez should be criticized (if not “repudiated”).

From Michael G, somewhere in cyberspace:

No leader ever gets close to being right on all the issues. However, name one head of state who is more progressive than Chavez. For a man of his prominence, in a country sitting on that much oil, you can’t always say what you want.

World War 4 Report replies: So you think he really sympathizes with the Tibetans but is compromising his true sentiments in the interests of realpolitik? Is there any evidence to support this? And what about his coziness with Saddam, Ahmadinejad and Lukashenko? We hate to say it, but there appears to be a pattern here…

From Nicholas Levis, somewhere in cyberspace, adopted from comments he left at Rigorous Institution:

Imagine this exact same article without the same headline: the all-caps imperative (ENOUGH!) the strawman accusation (HERO WORSHIP) or a subhead that admonishes another strawman (“the Left”) and a phrase that could come straight from the State Department (“repudiate Venezuelan leader”). This from a US writer during the end stages of the Bush regime, with Iran and Venezuela both targeted for attack. Yeah, the Left’s big problem right now is not the paralyzed antiwar movement, but its unacknowledged man-love of Chavez.

Well, even with a headline like,

“Chavez Enters into Questionable Alliances”

it would still be full of shite, a blinders-on screed against the Officially Designated Enemies (ODEs) of the American empire, but I could have certainly read it without immediate anger.

In his quest to rattle the US, Chávez has courted some other rather unsavory leaders. The Venezuelan leader for example has solidified ties with Iran and calls fundamentalist President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “one of the greatest anti-imperialist fighters.” Chávez added, unbelievably, that Ahmadinejad was “one of the great fighters for true peace.”

Context and dates of these quotes and presumably meetings would be a journalistic minimum. But Kozloff’s propaganda piece doesn’t bother with attributions or details; “human rights campaigners say” will apparently suffice, as in the Belarus section. (Amateur. Judy Miller would at least call Curveball.)

Venezuela, Iran and pre-invasion Iraq did not choose to be targets of US-led violence. They were chosen, and logically they found each other as they maneuvered to defend. That doesn’t make any of them good regimes, but it is what it is. North Korea didn’t choose to be added to an axis of evil with Iran, but as a result of the threat of war evident in the phrase, Iran and NK have forged a propaganda alliance of sorts to show up the United States as both inflexible and powerless. “Authoritarian” Belarus is targeted by the international noise machine, pretty much dictatorial US ally Uzbekistan is not. And so it goes.

As for China, it exists both in practical symbiosis and a war of words with the US, with both sides wishing they could quit each other; they cannot. The rhetorical techniques employed by Kozloff are so transparent. Wanting to sell more oil to China (instead of to the American regime that tried to OVERTHROW HIM) smoothly turns into “support for China” and in turn translates into support for labor camps. But did Chavez issue a statement supporting Chinese labor camps? No, he’s doing nothing different from what everyone who does business with China does.

Hey, Kozloff, presumably you’re in the US. You want to boycott China, there’s Wal-Mart down the block. Take your posters and go!

Kozloff at no point specifies the US “machinations” against Venezuela, as to do so would make it clear that Chavez’s government has been targeted in a war by the Bush regime that is covert only to American citizens. Venezuela therefore has a right of defense – and if that means selling oil to China or pumping up Ahmedinejad, tough. It’s up to the US to make peace and amends for what it has done to Venezuela, not for Kozloff to wring his hands over Chavez’s necessary international alliances and yet claim he’s defending the Bolivarian revolution.

World War 4 Report replies: So much disingenuous garbage here, we hardly know where to begin. If “hero worship” is a strawman, why do you hold Chávez above criticism? All our feature story headlines are in caps, and you added the exclamation point after “enough.” (Trying to pull a fast one, are we?)

Go ask Amnesty International about Lukashenko’s human rights record.

“It is what it is” is a meaningless tautology.

It is this kind of cynicism about human rights that costs the left so much credibility in the US and around the world.

Finally, in future readers are encouraged to keep their responses to no more than 500 words.

See our last posts on Venezuela, China and Tibet, and our last Exit Poll results.

  1. Chavez criticism
    Anybody who watches Venezuelan tv and follows Chavez speeches will soon understand that he is very critical of even himself, this guy is the first to recognize his errors and be sure that before he expresses support for a nation or a world leader he does it with care, not to imply that he won’t be wrong, he is human and to err is human.

    When it comes to politics and Chavez support to China it is clear that when analyzing the whole picture China is a much better partner that the USA.

    Chavez is in the process of rebuilding a nation that have been looted for decades/centuries by capitalism/imperialism/colonialism and he adopted a disgraced system which he along with the Venezuelan people have been changing to benefit the people and not the transnational mafias.

    Why do you think that the Rockeffellers and the elite of the USA and Europe atempted a coup against Chavez? the reason is money, but the money of the Venezuelan people which Rockefeller and friends stole for decades through their transnationals.

    See the interview of Aaron Russo as he descloses his conversation with Nick Rockefeller and explains how they had already planned 911, the invasion of Iraq and afghanistan and the coup against Chavez.

    As for your comment about Amnesty International, you should know that AI is a USA controlled institution as Human rights watch, USAID etc.

    So, Chavez is not perfect but neither is the Dalia Lama when he takes the CIA side to confront China. And Chavez is no holy man either but many in Venezuela respect him much more than the hipocrits who represent the Vatican there.

    1. Right, Amnesty International is controlled by the USA
      That must be why they accused the White House of running a “gulag” at Guantanamo Bay. That must be why they charge the Bush administration with “torture, enforced disappearance and impunity,” saying that interrogation methods and detention conditions approved by the White House are “in clear breach of international law.” That must be why the preamble to their 2008 Annual Report singles out Washington for criticism, stating: “The USA must close Guantánamo detention camp and secret detention centres, prosecute the detainees under fair trial standards or release them, and unequivocally reject the use of torture and ill-treatment.”

      Your powers of critical reasoning are nothing short of astounding. We mean that.

  2. Tibet: A Victim of Politics?
    I’m one of Hugo Chavez’ biggest fans. I’m running for public office and am using my campaign to support Chavez – see my campaign website at

    I even created the website However, Viva Chavez includes a lengthy article discussing some of the many charges made against Chavez – a few of which I agree with.

    One of my biggest disappointments is Chavez’ support for China at Tibet’s expense. I think his stand on Tibet greatly compromises Chavez’ image as a truthmonger and freedom fighter.

    And yet there may be a kernel of truth in some of Chavez’ comments regarding Tibet. If the Bush administration wanted to use the approaching Olympics to embarrass China, would it not make sense to foment dissent in Tibet?

    Many people correctly view China’s government as evil. Thus, it would seem appropriate to politicize the Olympics.

    But the U.S. government is evil, too. Therefore, would it not be fair to similarly exploit the Olympics in protesting the wars in Iraqistan?

    Furthermore, what can conclude from the Dalai Lama meeting Nancy Pelosi? I mean, is that woman not a living example of a political wh*re?

    Is the Dalai Lama really that ignorant of politics? Or was he simply playing politics, similar to Chavez?

    I’d be lying if I said I understand what’s going on behind the scenes, but my instincts tell me it ain’t as black-and-white as many of the people who pretend to care about Tibetans pretend it is.

    In summary, I still support Chavez, though I disagree with his stand on Tibet. Yet even on this issue, Chavez has opened my eyes.

    David Blomstrom
    Candidate for Public Office & Chavista