Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Homework assignments

Can I get a free trader to present some counterarguments to Jessica Wilson's anti-globalization excerpt? There's some powerful correlations cited there, but someone with more knowledge than me might find another explanation of them.

Or can someone tell me what's wrong with Hugo Chavez? Pan y ladrillos sounds pretty good to this Benthamite! Since a lot of his country's big media criticizes him, it's hard to argue that he's done the dissent-crushing thing that would have me worried.

These are two issues on which my mind is fairly open, so you might actually convince someone.


Blue said...

Will jump on the globalization thing as soon as I read that long and interesting article. But I already know what's wrong with Chavez, and I wanted to get it before others do.

The Economist has always had interesting Chavez stories, dismissing him because he's a populist (whom they view as both bad economics and bad political science) but respecting the population that supports him and certainly not respecting the cretins of big industries that run his opposition. And a large part of anti-Chavez sentiment in American circles has to do with his communist leanings and closeness with Cuba. So if you're looking for stuff, go check that out.

Things that Chavez has done wrong that make him a bad leader? He's certainly pushed the powers of his office to the max, happily firing any judges and election officials who rule against him. While the big TV media is unanimous against him, he's also happy to shut it down whenever a big event happens (such as a referendum on oil nationalization). His disagreements with military leaders have not just made his regime unstable, but his solution was to arm the poor populaces that support him and create many pro-Chavez militia, something so horribly destabilizing that we could be regretting it still 30 years from now (if one looks at Columbia).

Basically, Chavez is seen as a proto-dictator, someone who isn't atually yet oppressing his people, but that's just because he has yet to cross the line. In much the same way as the left views Iyad Allawi in Iraq. And you feel the other side's (right or left) willingness to tolerate that person is just because they don't accept the inevitable dictatorialness that will arise out of this situation that has arisen out of many of our so called democratically elected allies in the past (both in the Mideast and in Latin America).

Blue said...

Cute that having read through a lot of Yglesias stuff now, I see he agrees about Allawi and Chavez being similar, and really any consistent international strategy should have the same policies towards them.

Which way do you fall on this, or what to do with Allawi, anyway?

Neil Sinhababu said...

I don't have a good sense for exactly which options are feasible and which aren't. It seems we're stuck with supporting Allawi. It also seems to me that supporting Chavez is the thing to do, since he does win democratic elections and his downward redistribution of wealth is something I can be pretty happy about.