Obama Takes All Sides on Chavez
Inexperienced and Naïve on Foreign Policy, Good at Campaigning
By Mark I Posted in 2008 | Barack Obama | foreign policy | Hugo Chavez | Liberals | Obamafiles — Comments (7) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
Another day, another position on Hugo Chavez from Sen. Barack Obama. Last week, he told the Orlando Sentinel that he favored meeting with the Venezuelan Marxist dictator He even went so far as to say that Chavez could set the agenda. But the very next day, he told a Miami audience that Chavez’s support for the FARC narco-terrorist rebel group in Colombia disqualified Venezuela from such a meeting. Speaking to the Cuban American National Foundation, Obama said the following.
"We will shine a light on any support for the FARC that comes from neighboring governments. This behavior must be exposed to international condemnation, regional isolation, and -- if need be -- strong sanctions. It must not stand."
Thank God for the qualifier. Strong sanctions? Whoa! hold on there big guy. You’re inexperienced in foreign affairs and all, but you just can’t go around threatening sanctions, especially strong ones, without months and years of delays, negotiations, aggressive diplomacy, and Security Council debates. You don’t want to blow all your options in one fell swoop.
Mocking aside, there are a couple of bigger points to make from this.
First, Obama has no idea what he is talking about when it comes to Venezuela. He just knows that Hugo Chavez has complaints, and in Obama’s default worldview, that necessitates fault on the part of the United States. Hence his desire to meet with any and every tin-pot dictator and tinfoil hat crazy with a gripe.
Second, note where Obama made his “strong” comments against Chavez and where he made his overtures to negotiations. When speaking to the Orlando Sentinel, a paper that reaches Florida’s critical I-4 corridor, a more moderate area of the state, Obama espouses negotiation. But in front of an audience with less tolerance for dictators, the Miami Cuban ethnic and expatriate community, Obama says, without naming him, that Chavez should be isolated. He picks his position based on his audience. Obama is suitably faux-tough when facing a crowd not inclined to suffer coddling dictators gladly, and properly nuanced and open-minded when attempting to reach an audience that he thinks will accept that line more readily. Obama is pandering. That’s very old-politics.
Obama’s variant positions on meeting with Chavez recall another Democratic nominee’s attempt to explain his way out of an apparent contradiction: Obama was for meeting with Chavez, before he was against it. Many believed that John Kerry was the worst nominee from a major political party since Michael Dukakis in 1988. Though rhetorically more gifted, Obama seems to be giving them both a run for their money.