Right wing commentary on world politics from a man on a mission to prove that Conservatism transcends national boundaries. Thoughtful comments from people of all political persuasions are welcome and encouraged. Contact the blogger at elephantman.conservaglobe@gmail.com.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Why Socialism Makes Me Angry

It has recently come to my attention that my recent post on the elections in Slovakia was not as well-worded as it could have been. Specifically, I mistakenly gave the impression that I thought of East Europeans as lazy people who don't want to work for a living - this is not my opinion at all. I greatly admire the people and culture of Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union. In fact, I hope to work in that area of the world someday and I am learning Russian as a second language. My anger is not at the people of Eastern Europe, it is at the communists who (in my opinion) ruined the great nations of that region and stole a piece of every citizen's soul. As a student of political science, I have studied the damage that Socialist governments inflict on their countries, and it makes me nauseous. Hence, I have gotten to the point where the mere thought of a nation under the oppression of Communism (or it's slightly less deranged sisters Socialism, "Social Democracy", and Leftism) disgusts me almost to the point of tears.

So, I am going to try to calmly lay out why I think that Socialism is a deranged ideology which is incapable of producing positive results. Then I am going to re-explain my views on the current situation in Eastern Europe, and why I stand behind what I said (or at least meant to say) about the subject.


1. All forms of Socialism are based on hatred of a group of people. The fundamental basis of Socialism (especially in it's more radical forms) is that one class of people is oppressed by another. Now, anyone will agknowlege that there are oppressive people in the world. However, the problem is that Socialism stereotypes all of the members of one class (usually the rich) as being inherently oppressive and corrupt, while another class (usually the poor or the "workers") are cast as inherently wholesome and good. Some extremist regimes have used Socialist class-warfare rhetoric as a basis for institutionalized racism. In Africa, this approach is used by Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe - a socialist who connects modern white Zimbabweans to past colonialist oppression and then uses this as a justification for confiscating their farms and redistributing them to black Zimbabweans.

2. Socialism does not allow people to seek better lives for themselves. The purest form of Socialism (pure Communism) adheres to such a rigid concept of equality that it bans anyone from making more money than anyone else. Unfortunately, such a rigidly equal distribution leads to everybody being poor and legally disallowed from trying to find a way out of their poverty (because somebody were to not be poor, then this would create inequality). This is why I like to call Socialism an "ideology of starvation". Think about it, if half of the people in a country are starving and the rest are barely getting enough to eat, then an equal distribution of food will mean that those who are barely getting to eat will have food take away form them and given to the people who are starving. Hence, the people who were barely getting by are no longer getting by at all and the people who were starving STILL don't have enough to survive on. Is it really a coincidence that the beginning of a massive famine in Ethiopia coincided with the rise of a Marxist dictatorship.

3. Socialism takes away people's ability to provide for themselves and makes them dependent on the government for survival. This happens even in the most mild "Democratic Socialist" systems. Governments hike taxes to statospheric levels and then "give them back" in the form of massive government welfare programs. Take Sweden, which socialists often hold up as their idea of utopia. True, Sweden currently has the 2nd highest standard of living in the world, but things are not as utopian as they may seem. The number of people entering college in Sweden is dropping (I can't quote statistics at the moment, but I would be happy to look them up for inquiring minds) because many people have figured out that any wealth they might accumulate by entering a highly-skilled line of work will only be taken away by Sweden's highly progressive tax system (in which the percentage of you income that you pay in taxes goes up drastically when you earn more income). I personally think that, this is the reason that Sweden has one of the lowest GDP per capita numbers in the highly developed world! (GDP peer capita is the total amount of money produced by a nation's economy divided by its population, a pretty good measure of the strength of the economy). I think that, if it continues under it's current system, Sweden's economic decline will make it into a third world country within a few centuries.


My comments regarding Eastern Europe hinged primarily on the third point. The rigid communist systems of the Soviet Union and its satellites made the people TOTALLY dependent on the government for the necessities of life. The generations that were born under Communism were never allowed to take care of themselves, which left them utterly unprepared for life in a capitalist society. Hence, it is only natural that after more than a decade of being worse off then they were before, he people would elect to go back to a more Socialist system. Unfortunately, for the reasons mentioned above, these new socialist systems will merely create the same horrible situation that existed under Communism and make future generations dependent and unable to survive. Under a capitalist system, the current generation may flounder, but their children will learn what it takes to make it in a free world. It is these children who I worry about, because they have the capability to make Eastern Europe one of the most prosperous places on Earth. Unfortunately, the Socialist governments that are now taking power could make the children as dependent as previous generations and ruin any chance for their nations to ever succeed.

THAT is why I become so angry and vitriolic when Socialists come to power.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Rock On, Israel!

If you haven't been keeping up with world news, here's what's going on: Hamas militants took Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit hostage and demanded the release of all Palestinian women and "children" (under age 18) imprisoned in Israel. Instead of caving to such insane demands, the Israelis did what any sendible nation would have done - they responded with an overwhelming show of force. Tanks were sent into the Southern Gaza Strip. Large quantities of Israeli artillery shells were sent to the Northern Gaza Strip. All power and water was cut off to Gaza City, and the main roads into the city were closed off. 60 senior Hamas leaders were arrested, including the Deputy Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority and several other members of the Palestinian cabinet. And just for good measure, Israeli fighter jets buzzed Syrian dictator Bashar Assad (as a warning not to interfere).

Now, I am not a proponent of excessive violence, but I think that this shock and awe campaign was both necessary and long overdue. Both the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the terror groups it supports have been out of control for years, and it is high time time that somebody gave them a spanking. Israel has been begging the Palestinians to negotiate peace for decades, and their cries fell on deaf ears. The Palestinians were given more than enough (and some would say too many) chances to redeem themselves, but they RAMPED UP the violence instead of stopping it. Now they are paying the price. Unfortunately, the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit is proof that the terrorists who control the Palestinian Government (Hamas and Fatah both support terrorism) are not going to negotiate, and the only way to get them to cooperate is to bring them to their knees.

Those that say that this is an overreaction or that the kidnapping of one soldier is not sufficient justification for military action need to have their heads examined. When an Israeli citizen is kidnapped, the government's first and only responsibility is to ensure that he is rescued as quickly as possible, regardless of collateral damage. They have no responsibility to ensure that non-Israelis are not hurt as a result of the rescue effort.

Israel has tried to negotiate for years, and it backfired. No one in their right mind can blame them for forcing the issue after decades of attempts to make peace.

Lastly, I urge those who (like myself) have issues with the Israeli Government regarding the Gaza pullout to hold their tongues until this situation is over. We will have more than enough time to give pullout supporters a tongue-lashing later. For now, let's just cheer on the Israeli Military and pray for Gilad Shalit's safety.


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Monday, June 26, 2006

Rep. Peter King Takes On the NY Times

US Representative Peter King (R-NY) said Sunday that he thinks that the New York Times should be prosecuted for its recent publication of classified information regarding how the US Government tracks money that is being used to support terrorism. I agree. If any private citizen disclosed that information, they would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Freedom of the press is a cherished American value, but it does not give journalists the right to break the law whenever they feel like it. If any journalist thinks that they should be immune from US law, then they should leave the country. Otherwise, they should be subject to the same standards as the rest of us. Likewise, any journalist who claims that unbiased nature of their profession prevents them from taking national security into consideration before releasing information should relinquish their US citizenship. If a reporter wishes to have the privileges of being a citizen, then he must also take on the responsibilities of being a citizen.

I'm sure that someone reading this will accuse me of suggesting that the press should be censored, but nothing is further from the truth. The press should be free to print anything it wishes as long as it does not present a clear and present danger (which is the accepted standard for free speech), and I think that you would be hard pressed to find anyone who asserts that making top-secret information available to our enemies does not present a clear and present danger! And yes, I do think that terrorists who blow up our buildings, behead our citizens, and mutilate the bodies of our soldiers qualify as "enemies" of this country! Usually, making classified information available to people who are engaged in a war against our country falls under the category of treason, and I see know reason why it should be defined otherwise simply because the culprit happens to be the New York Times.

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Terrorist Elected Leader of Somalia's New Parliament

Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, who is listed as a terrorist by the US State Department, was elected yesterday as the head of a new parliament set up by the militant "Islamic Court Union" which recently captured Somalian capital of Mogadishu. Aweys is the former head of a militant group known as al-Itihaad al-Islamiya, which was once funded by Osama bin Laden and is supposedly linked to the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. It is unclear just how much power Aweys will have in the new "government" (which has no international recognition) , but his election is disturbing regardless of the exact role he plays. Supposedly, the top official in the new government is a more "moderate" islamist named Sharif Sheikh Ahmed. However, I tend to agree those who say that that the Islamic Court Union the African equivalent of the Taliban and could make Somalia into a haven for terrorists.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

PERSON OF THE WEEK - June 18-24, 2005

It's official: Hugo Chavez is no longer the most entertaining despot in Latin America. Instead, his newly elected ally in Bolivia has proven to be just as crazy as Chavez, but far more comedic. I knew that Bolivia was in for a wild ride when former coca farmer Evo Morales was inaugurated as president in January, but I never expected some of the wild antics that he has engaged in since being installed. He has shown a steadfast devotion to the coca plant he once farmed, suggesting that the leaves should be included in all school breakfasts due to their high calcium content. Of course, he neglected to mention their high COCAINE content!

While Morales' antics have been making news for months, it was only this week that he proved that he was even farther out in left field then his Venezuelan counterpart. Hugo Chavez has insisted for years that the CIA is trying to assassinate him, so it is only natural that his Bolivian protege would make similar accusations. However, Morales did his mentor one better by actually laying out the details of how American intelligence agents are infiltrating his country. In what the Associated Press calls a "mostly incoherent" six-page letter, Morales' office accuses the US-based non-profit Alliance for Conflict Transformation of being an office of the State Department. Supposedly, two instructors in the Alliance's yearly conflict resolution seminar(which teaches prospective leaders how to conduct peace negotiations) were really disguised US soldiers conducting espionage operations. Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't think that the US Military would give their officers the extra burden of having to the vast majority of their time teaching a seminar on how to peacefully resolve political problems, especially if they're supposed to be planning a violent overthrow of the Morales regime!

So, for giving politicos around the world a good laugh, Bolivian President Evo Morales is ConservaGlobe's Person of the Week. Unfortunately, his subjects aren't sharing in the fun. Morales' radical socialist agenda is alienating the international community and his massive distribution of government lands to peasants are causing many honest land-owners to fear that their lands will be taken for redistribution as well. So, while this award goes to Morales for his comedy, the fact that such a wild and eccentric individual is in charge of Bolivia no cause for joy.

Photo Copyright Notice: The photo of Evo Morales used above was taken by Valter Campanato of Agencia Brasil. According to Wikipedia, Agencia Brasil (a public Brazilian news agency) allows its photos to be used for any purpose as long as the photographer and Agencia Brazil are credited.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Santorum: WMD found in Iraq

It's late, so I'm just going to link you to a post by Hot Air, which has video of Senator Santorum's press conference on the subject (with Rep. John Hoekstra) as well as Hannity and Colmes coverage on the subject.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Kim Jong-Il and His Toy Rocket

In the previous days, the United States has learned that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il has taken up model rocketry as a hobby. Yes, I know that a Taepodong-2 ballistic missile capable of hitting the US is a little more severe that a 4H rocketry project. However, I really think that North Korea's missile program is nothing more than a childish game. Mr. Kim is just trying to get a rise out of George Bush by waving a little rocket in his face. The Taepodong-2 is nothing more than a stunt meant to intimidate the rest of the world (Kim knows that he has no real use for this weapon, because the US would flatten North Korea in response to any attack).

This brings me to my second point. It has also been mentioned that the US may decide to use the this test launch as target practice for our new missile defense shield (the missile would be launched over the pacific). The international community says that we shouldn't do it, but I disagree. Kim Jong-Il's childish games have gone far enough and it is time that the US showed him who's boss. If the missile comes anywhere near US territory, then it constitutes a military attack and we have every right to protect ourselves (especially considering that we are not totally sure that the missile isn't carrying some kind of weapon). If the United States Military is confident that they can take down the Taepodong-2, then I urge them to fire away. If, as many in the international community speculate, the missile is being used to launch a satellite, then that detail should have been made public. You can't blame the US for shooting down a satellite disguised as a ballistic missile.

In short, it is time for us to put an end to Kim Jong-Il's mischief by shooting his little toy rocket out of the sky - and I really don't care if losing his new toy makes him cry.

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Slovakia: Capitalism Spurned

Slovakia is not a nation that many people are terribly familiar with. Since the demise of Czechoslovakia in 1993, the infant nation of Slovakia has been somewhat overshadowed by it's more prominent sibling, the Czech Republic. However, Slovakia briefly captured the attention of the world on Saturday when it elected a new government.

For the last eight years, conservative Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda has been leading the country closer to the West by implementing free market reforms and building good relations with the U.S.A. and the European Union. However, the Slovakian electorate tossed Dzurinda's coalition on Saturday in favor of the socialist Smer ("Direction") Party. Smer leader Robert Fico has vowed to roll back all of Dzurinda's reforms; and for a free-market capitalist like myself, that smashing eight years of progress toward economic liberty. (As a sidenote, it is worth noting that Smer is really nothing more than the remnant of the old Communist Party, which splintered into several parties but re-merged as Smer in 2005). Another bleak development was the sudden rise of a radical Slovak nationalist party (apparently built on a distaste for the ethnic Hungarian minority). This new party is now being mentioned as a probable coalition partner for Smer (which needs the help of other parties to form a majority in the parliament). Maybe it's just me, but the thought of a government run by a coalition of ex-communists and ethnic nationalists leaves a very sour taste in my mouth.

The Smer takeover in Slovakia is not an isolated incident, either. All over Eastern Europe, voters are rejecting liberty and capitalism in favor of a return to more socialist policies. Poland has handed power to the Law and Justice Party (which is socially conservative but economically socialist). Voters in Eastern Germany are also turning to the remnant of the old Communist Party, now known as just the Left Party. After years of Communist rule, the people of Eatern Europe are finding out that moving toward capitalism is hard work. A free market economy holds the promise of a better life, but it also emphasizes that one must earn everything he has (and it is also possible to lose everything). Unfortunately, the voters are now opting for the easy way out - a return to the days where the bare-bones necessities of life were doled out by a communist government and the pursuit of a better life was outlawed.

The choice for Eastern Europe is clear: onward and upward toward a prosperous capitalist future or a return to the days where everyone was poor, but they didn't have to work to maintain their poverty. Unfortunately, it appears that voters are choosing the latter of the two options.

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Monday, June 19, 2006

PERSON OF THE WEEK - June 11-17, 2006

It took me a while to figure out who deserved the award this week. I thought about giving it to someone related to the surge of violence in Sri Lanka (which, to me, was the biggest news of the week), but then I realized that there were no individual people making news there. Then I thought about the World Cup soccer tournament, but I decided that I should probably wait until the later rounds to mention the world's largest sporting event. Then I thought of the elections in Slovakia and...Well...I think it's kind of self explanatory why I didn't choose that story. Finally, I came back to a suggestion made in my "Comments" section earlier in the week, Karl Rove.

True, I have a distaste for awarding this title to passive newsmakers (Karl Rove really didn't do anything, it was the special prosecutor who actually took action). However, I didn't have many other choices and I couldn't resist the opportunity to tip my hat to the man that we in the Conservative Movement call "The Architect" (Leftists call him other names, but I can't mention those on a family friendly blog). Besides Rove's non-indictment was a real shot in the arm for the Bush administration. It reminded the public that the Democrats rhetoric is just that - rhetoric and nothing more. With Rove exonerated, the Democrats can no longer run their congressional campaign on the idea of an imminent indictment of high-level administration officials (although they will probably try, which will only make them look desperate).

I congratulate the Architect on his exoneration and heave a sigh of relief at the thought that the legal system has not yet been to totally politicized. (The indictment would have been for a cover-up of a non-crime. Valerie Plame was not a covert operative, so mentioning her name was not a "leak". ) So, for not getting indicted and dealing a huge blow to the left-wing scandal-mongers, Karl Rove is ConservaGlobe's Person of the Week.

NOTE: I wholeheartedly thank the commenter who suggested this selection. I can become so globally minded that I forget the news that happens right here in the USA. I would like Person of the Week to be an interactive feature, so please feel free to submit your own choices for the award!

DISCLAIMER FOR SLOVAKIANS: I do not mean to imply that Slovakia is without international significance. To the contrary, I think that this weeks elections were bellwether event for Eastern Europe (although a rather disheartening one). I may blog on it in the future, but I thought my readers might appreciate a well known Person of the Week for once. (That, and I wasn't in the mood to do the necessary research to write an informed commentary on Slovakian politic). I may yet comment on the subject, just not tonight.

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Monday, June 12, 2006

Palestinians Torch Thier Own Parliament!

If you thought politics was brutal in the West, you ain't seen nothin' yet. Today, gunmen supporting Palestinian President Abbas' Fatah Party shot up the parliament and cabinet buildings in Ramallah and then set them ablaze. Why? Because they're angry that the legislative branch is controlled by the opposition Hamas Party. Now, I have no love for Hamas, but this is ridiculous! As a sidenote, Fatah is supposed to be the more moderate of the two major Palestinian parties. Then again, just about anyone looks moderate when compared to a party of suicide bombers.

This is what a self-governing Palestine looks like. This is the cause that world leftists have been championing for years. This is what happens when you turn a blind eye to terrorists like the PLO and allow them to brainwash their people for decades on end! I hope that all of the anti-Zionists in Europe and around the world are enjoying this spectacle. All of you who though the Israelis were the bad guys, take a look a the Frankenstein monster that you helped build!

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PERSON OF THE WEEK - June 4-10, 2005

And you all thought I was going to say it was Zarqawi (chuckle). All kidding aside, Zarqawi's death was without doubt the biggest news event of the week. However, I really don't think that it's fair to call a dead man an active newsmaker. Instead, I think that the person who turned in the terrorist mastermind is the one who deserves this accolade.

The world is forever in the debt of the ordinary Iraqi(s) who aided coalition forces in finding this monster. Without his/her/their help, hundreds more innocent Iraqis could have been killed by Zarqawi's group (not to mention the foreign hostages who would have been beheaded). Of course, there will still be violence, but I think that al-Qaeda in Iraq will never be the same without "the Slaughterer Shiekh" at the helm.

My profound thanks the tipster. Whoever he/she is, they have more than earned the title of Person of the Week (not to mention a $25 million reward).

Honoaralbe Mention: Peruvian President-Elect Alan Garcia

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In my last post, I jokingly "tagged" blogosphere giant Hugh Hewitt in a little game that has been floating around the blogosphere. I never thought for a minute that a big shot Mr. Hewitt would actually find my post, let alone respond. However, I noticed tonight that my hit-counter had recorded more hits than this blog has ever received in one day (168 and climbing). Sure enough, Hugh Hewitt had posted his response to the question "What sitcom character would you like to grow up to be?" and linked back to this blog.

So, my sincerest thanks to Mr. Hewitt for taking the time to respond. I am very honored and humbled to know that the man who (literally) wrote the book on blogging visited my site.

Just in case you wanted to know, Mr. Hewitt wants to be Lou Grant from The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Okay, JB, I'll play along...

JB over at A Voice for Freedom has "tagged" me in some sort of bizarre online escapade in which bloggers pose the question "what sitcom character would you like to grow up to be?" to other bloggers. (Note: I am over the age of eighteen, so I am rephrasing to question to "what sitcom character would you like to be?")

Before I answer, let me say that this question caused me considerable mental distress. I hate, loathe, despise, and abhor most modern sitcoms. Why? Because, in the first place, I like television that stimulates brain cells rather than killing them. I watch five shows on a weekly basis: American Idol (because I am a trained vocalist and like to watch artists develop), Survivor (because I think that it is an interesting sociological experiment), CSI (because I like to see if I can figure the case out before Grissom does), Without a Trace (Because it's on after CSI), and Grey's Anatomy (okay, I don't have a good reason for that one). Other than that, I generally limit my viewing to news, documentaries, Iron Chef, and Country Music Videos (If I'm really bored).

Secondly, I am sick of the fact that nearly all male sitcom characters are always absolute idiots while most female characters (not counting mother-in-laws and the token crazy chick) are far more intelligent and well spoken. If you disagree, I ask you to consider the following examples: Everybody Loves Raymond, King of Queens, and Home Improvement. As further proof, I cite that fact that my conservative compatriot JB was forced to choose a female character in order to find someone that he would want to be (Yes, I am sure that JB is male; I have met him personally). I have nothing against intelligent female characters, I just wish that the male characters were equally intelligent.

Now that you have read my diatribe on how much I loathe sitcoms, you will understand why I had to spend a considerable amount of time racking my brain in order to answer the question. First I had to try to remember the last time that I watched a sitcom, then I had to try to remember a sitcom in which I actually knew who the characters were, then I had to pick one I liked. After much deliberation, I realized that there was one sitcom that I used to really like. Then it hit me that this same sitcom was the only one that I could think of where one of the male characters actually had his head screwed on correctly. So, if I had to be a sitcom character, I would probably be...


Martin Crane from "Frasier"!

Martin was an ex-cop whose simple common sense always seemed much more intelligent than the professional opinions of his two psychiatrist sons, Frasier and Niles. According to Wikipedia, Martin was also a strong conservative. In one episode, he endorsed a "far-right" candidate for congress (I never saw the episode, so I cannot state my personal opinion on this candidate. I'm sure that the guy was made to look like evil incarnate.) He also once referred to a US Senator as a "bleeding heart - soft on crime". While Martin did once state that he was concerned about global warming, I think that is safe to say that he probably voted Republican most of the time.

I'm also supposed to tag three others as part of this foolishness. So, I elect to tag STRICTCONLAWMAN at ConservativeLaw; Mortimus Q. Squid, Esq. at The Political Wisdom of Mortimus Squid (even though I am sure that he considers this game to be beneath his dignity), and Hugh Hewitt (who has probably never heard of this blog, but I couldn't think of anyone else off the top of my head).

So, the rules of the game are as follows:

1. Answer the question.
2. Link back to the person who tagged you.
3. Tag three of your friends in the blogosphere.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Ding, Dong! Zarqawi's Dead!

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi

Normally, I am not the type of guy who wishes death on anyone (although I firmly support the death penalty for convicted murderers). When Uday and Qusay Hussein were killed, I was relieved, but I was disappointed that they were not captured alive to stand trial. They should have payed for their crimes on Earth BEFORE they were dispatched to the deepest circle of hell. Zarqawi is different.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was one of the most evil men on the planet, and he needed to be taken out. Someone like that is not a person who you take great pains to capture alive, he is somebody that you get rid of as quickly as possible and at any cost. Personally, the thought of Zarqawi awaiting trial in the comfort of the Guantanamo Hilton sickens me (maybe I could stomach the idea if he was allowed to rot in an Iraqi jail instead, but Gitmo is way to good for him). While it would have been nice to see him drug before a court of justice in shackles, I am not at all disappointed with the way things panned out. Zarqawi deserved his grisly fate, and I'm happy that he got it. My only complaint is that I think that death might be too lenient of a punishment for such a monster. But then again, I'm sure that Hell is worse then anything humans could ever dish out.


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Peru Election Results

Alan Garcia won Sunday's presidential election in Peru, and lovers of democracy can breathe a sigh of relief at the fact that Hugo Chavez will NOT have a friend in Peru. Ollanta Humala, a far-leftist with ties to Chavez and other Latin American radicals, was soundly defeated. Garcia may be a socialist, but at least he's a moderate socialist who loves democracy and abhors Chavismo (Chavez-ism). Viva Peru!

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Sunday, June 04, 2006

PERSON OF THE WEEK - May 28-June 3, 2006

When the week started, a young nation was on the brink of collapse. When the week ended, East Timor appeared to be stabilizing - and it was all because of President Xanana Gusmao. Don't get me wrong, things are still pretty bad, but Gusmao's pragmatic leadership has kept the situation from disintegrating into irreparable chaos. When the capital city of Dili descended into chaos, Gusmao took direct control of the defense and interior ministries (the minister’s had steeped down as a result of the violence) and set about trying to end the violence. While these actions had an effect, I think that Gusmao may have made an impact by simply making impassioned public cries for peace.

In many other nations, a president's call for peace would have been laughed off by opposition rebels, but not in East Timor. In Timor, Gusmao isn't just a political leader, he is the embodiment of the nation itself. He spent decades leading a guerilla uprising against the forced annexation of East Timor by Indonesia and is revered as a national icon by the government and the rebels alike. In fact, the rebels don’t demand the fall of the government, they are merely asking Gusmao to fire the prime minister. They have no issues with the president himself (and if they did, I doubt that they would have the audacity to voice them). In short, Xanana Gusmao is to East Timor what George Washington was to the United States, and mere words from his lips seem to be enough to cause significant change. I give him kudos for using his power to hold his young democracy together rather than consolidating power for himself.

Xanana Gusmao is not perfect (he is a member of the socialist Fretilin party, so I obviously have some disagreements with him there), but he provided tremendous leadership to a nation in turmoil. In my book, he has more than earned the title of Person of the Week.

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Saturday, June 03, 2006

Peru's Presidential Runoff

Peru will be electing a president tomorrow, and you'll have to pardon me for being less than enthused about either of the candidates. The main conservative candidate, Lourdes Flores, was knocked out in the first round on April 9th. So, Peruvians get to choose between leftist former president Alan Garcia and Ollanta Humala, a radical leftist who has been openly endorsed by Venezuela's Hugo Chavez.

Garcia's first administration (1985-90) was marked by runaway inflation, the decline of five million Peruvians into poverty, a 20% drop in Peru's Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and the rise of the communist Shining Path guerilla insurgency. Peruvians were so sick of politics as usual by the time his term ended that they elected an anti-establishment populist named Alberto Fujimori, who disbanded congress in 1992 and ruled as dictator until 2000.

Humala, on the other hand, is a former army officer who mounted an unsuccessful rebellion against Fujimori in 2000. His family heads the Etnocacerista movement, which promotes nationalizing industry and legalizing coca cultivation. Etnocaceristas also advocate placing Native Americans in positions of power at the expense of other ethnic groups. Humala has also been openly endorsed by Presidents Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Evo Morales of Bolivia, both of whom are radical socialists who hate the US and accuse George Bush of trying to assassinate them.

Putting Alan Garcia back in power would be an incredibly stupid thing to do. However, elevating an ultra-nationalist radical socialist like Humala to the presidency would be even more destructive to Peru. So, faced with the choice between a leftist and a LEFTIST, I find myself begrudgingly hoping that Alan Garcia is returned to power.

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