At Al-Jazeera: Winning Arab hearts and minds (emphasis added)
Someone else in the Americas seems to have the secret formula for achieving that goal; much more quickly and cheaply.
Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president, found himself at the centre of Middle Eastern politics when he announced that he was withdrawing his most senior diplomat from Israel, the Venezuelan charge d’affaires in Tel Aviv. Not for something Israel did to his country, but for what it does to Palestinians and Lebanese thousands of miles away.
For that, Hugo, the charismatic-leader-helping-the-poor-offering-free-health-care-education-adult-literacy-and-job-training-initiatives-that-help-millions-of [insert country name here]tm du jour, is being awarded his appropriate place in the souvenir shop:
In Gaza and Ramallah in the Palestinian Territories I am told that next to Arafat’s and Che Guevara’s posters, a new poster of Chavez is being added.
At least we’re clear as to what it takes to win some anti-American hearts and minds.
Al-Jazeera knows that anti-Americanism sells and wants you to believe that
This solidarity with Arab causes is widely shared by most Venezuelans, and also by most Latin Americans, especially the poor. Many marched in the streets of Caracas and other cities in Venezuela – as well as in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia and elsewhere – to show solidarity with the Lebanese and Palestinians in their plight
But not so fast:
Whatever the consequence of Chavez’s uncompromising position with Israel, it is evident that it embarrassed Arab leaders, as none of them cut or even downgraded ties with Israel despite all the massacres its army has committed in Lebanon and Palestine.
They surely do not like his closeness to Iran, which is seen by many as trying to spread its influence over the Middle East.
As indeed it does: last April 15 I quoted Majlis Speaker Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel (article from the Islamic Republic News Agengy no longer on line) who,
Pointing to strategic position of Iran and Venezuela in the region, he said, “Venezuela can play a role to link Iran with Latin American states while Iran can also be a good mediator for Venezuela’s more connection with the Islamic world and the Middle East.”
The Al-Jazeera article concludes by saying that Hugo’s popular with the Arab guy-in-the-street and asks “Would there be a “Chavez of Arabia” just like the legendary “Lawrence of Arabia”?”
We’ll find out soon enough.
For now we have to settle with watching Hugo’s billion-dollar grand tour canvassing for Venezuela’s seat on the UN Security Council, where it would definitely impede sanctions against Iran’s soon-to-be available nuclear weapons. Hugo’s just left Malasia (whose former PM was just saying that something has to be done against the United States); terrorist-sponsor Syria‘s the next stop.
A clandestine dash to Havana on the eve of his five-day trip to China with no published photos suggests that Mr. Chavez thought Mr. Castro might well not be alive on his return–and that Mr. Castro was in no condition to be photographed
While mercifully we were spared images such as these, I fully expect Leftists everywhere to blame Castro’s demise on Pres. Bush.
Too bad Hugo doesn’t fly commercial airlines. He’d have enough award miles to buy a complete set of Louis Vuittton luggage.
In another part of the world, government-owned France2 news has been flooding the airwaves with Katrina coverage: for the past three evenings it has dedicated over 1/2 hr of air time to Katrina. Last evening’s was time for Nelle ORLEANS /QUARTIERS PAUVRES (New Orleans: THE POOR NEIGHBORHOODS, in French, 18 mins into the program).
The publisher of Le Monde, Jean-Marie Colombani, who on September 2001 had the “We’re All Americans Now” editorial, has been misquoted repeatedly by those who believe that America squandered the world’s sympathy after the Septembet 11 attack. In that editorial Colombani specifically said But the reality is perhaps also that of an America whose own cynicism has caught up with. . . Might it not then have been America itself that created this demon? The myth of squandered sympathy is simply that: a myth.
France2 in particular is relying on Katrina, a story a year old and 5,000 miles away because:
1. It’s cheap and easy: send a correspondent to drive around the place and use stock footage. It sure beats going to where the action actually is like these three guys have done.
2. It feeds the anti-Bush rethoric. No hurricane ever did any damage until Bush came along.
3. It segues on the global warming angle. Hurricanes didn’t exist prior to global warming.
4. It tells any Frenchmen that might be contemplating leaving France in search of economically greener horizons that the USA is a flooded hell-hole.
5. It diverts attention from serious endemic problems in France, such as
- the government-provided healthcare crisis, including the third anniversary of a heatwave that killed 15,000 elderly and infirm,
- the disastrous foreign policy of the Chirac administration
- Chirac’s corruption, from the lunch money, to Oil-For-Food, to the Clearstream shennanigans,
- the anti-Semitic crimes, and the persecution of those who bring attention to the problem,
- and let’s not forget the unrest among the Muslim population, which manifested itself most dramatically in last year’s riots.
As Fred Barnes said the other day, “The last time the French did right with the US was when Lafayette came over”.
Don’t expect otherwise.
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