Monday, June 21, 2004

Is Democracy in Danger?

Let me give you a preview on this article I wrote. Remember how I said in my first entry that I have a lot of good ideas, but I seldom write them down? Well, one night I was having a discussion with Dan about our place in the world. I brought up a couple of points that he liked, and told me to write them down. He wanted to publish it on his blog. It took me a couple of days to write, and I never gave it to him. So, I decided to jot it down here. This is my take on what's going on around us that doesn't seem to be getting much press, but I find troubling. Here it goes:

Spain just elected one, and so did Austria. What am I talking about? Socialists governments. The world seems more chaotic now since the United States has thrown itself into the wildfire. But the question is what's really brewing into the background? It's not what the US is doing abroad; it's the actions other governments are taking against the US that are not being noticed.

Let's take a closer look, into our own hemisphere. "Fifty-five percent of people polled in Latin America would support the replacement of democratic government with an authoritarian one." (Hoge, Warren NYT) That's alarming! How come our efforts to spread democracy hasn't entirely caught on? Well, I could give you a history lesson on how the Spaniards' legacy has left Latin America unstable, but the great power of the north has not been that helpful, either.

Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez are also a factor in Latin America. Their presence gives other Latin American countries a different outlook on how governments could be run. The idea of spreading a revolution that the peasantry has control of is very enticing. Especially, to a population where the illiteracy rate is extremely high. This gives them a sense of control that they normally would not have.

Let's take a look at Chile. It is hated among Latin American countries, especially Bolivia. These two countries have a history together of when they fought a war back in 1879. Bolivia lost land as a result of this war, and has since despised Chile. Another reason Chile is despised is because it is a "hypercapitalist state at a time when Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Uruguay are all moving leftward and questioning free trade and open markets." (Rohter, Larry NYT) As the New York Times article points out, Chile is isolated among its neighbors and looking beyond its borders for economic stability and growth.

Another article I found from the BBC about Chile states that Chile is looking at Indonesia to import natural gas. This is because Argentina has cut exports to Chile up to twenty percent, according to the BBC. This not all that is going on, "the Bolivian government signed a export gas deal with Argentina, but it prohibits Bolivian gas being resold to Chile." (BBC News)

It seems to me that Chile is being targeted for following the democratic ideal. Latin American countries have always mistrusted each other and this has kept them from expanding economically. Now what appears to be happening is that they're unifying, but directly against what Chile stands for. This is a dangerous situation that the US should start worrying about. Another troubling aspect is the guerilla tactics that these countries are accustomed to fighting, which are the same tactics Al-Qaida and Islamic extremists are experts at.

Let's look at the other side of the globe. Spain elects a socialist government and decides to remove its troops from the Iraq war. This is definitely an act of rebellion against the US. They are now so dead against anything the US is involved in that they are refusing to send troops back into Iraq even if the United Nation orders it. Austria is another country that just elected a socialist government. I also do not have to mention the French. Everyone knows how they feel about the US. The anti-American sentiment is increasingly expanding, and we should begin to examine it closer. Between the Islamic extremists and socialist governments, we have a potential situation that could threaten our freedom.


Guy LeCharles Gonzalez said...

Good post. Two points I'd make: 1) The US doesn't pay much attention to Latin America because other than Venezuela (who we are very close to, economically speaking) there's no oil there. As long as they sign our one-sided trade agreements, they're not all that important to us. 2) The comparison of Islamic extremists and Socialist governments is WAY off base. Spain, Austria and France are all still democratic-type governments - aka elected representatives. Their people simply decided to go a different route instead of following us off the deep end.

Xia Diaz said...

You're right on the last point, but we're very hated among those countries. I say this with a little experience because of my family in Spain. Everytime my mother speaks to my grandmother, she's always bad-mouthing the US. Now, I know that's only one family, but whenever I read anything about the US from foreign sites, we're being trashed.

Guy LeCharles Gonzalez said...

I agree with the fact that we're hated over there. Hell, I'd argue that overall, more people in general hate (or intensely dislike) America these days, even the ones that are considered our allies. Wait 'til the UK boots Tony Blair and votes in someone less willing to kiss Bush's ass! My issue was the comparison of Islamic extremists and Socialist governments. If anything, I'd compare the extremists to our own fun bunch of psychos - Michael Savage, Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, et al. ;-)

Xia Diaz said...

Well, at least our psychos aren't killing people. They just talk the rhetoric. You could tune them off, but you can't do much if you get killed by any of those extremists. The governments in Europe won't try to overthrow us, but they can make our existence more difficult. Remember they don't want to see us all over their territory, which is exactly what we're doing. I guess the way they look at it is if they felt Saddam wasn't a threat to them, why would he be a threat to us. Now, we're trying to look like the heroes freeing countries that are ruled by dictators, while they aren't doing anything about it. They feel we're snobs and to a point, they aren't that far off. We're not a world power for no reason!! So, sooner or later someone else is going to have the upper hand. The problem is what is going to happen to the US?

Dan Diaz said...

Guy wrote.
"If anything, I'd compare the extremists to our own fun bunch of psychos - Michael Savage, Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, et al. ;-)"
Call me what you like, but I feel Bill O'Reilly gets a bad rap. I don't feel he is an extremist. The others guys though, someone else can fight for them, I sure won't.

Xia Diaz said...

You're right, Bill O'Reilly does get a bad rap because he's a in your face type of guy. I actually like him. I know what he stands on positions and he seems to be an alright guy. I don't agree with everything he says, but at least I could see his point. I use to listen to Rush, but I hate hearing the right wing rhetoric. I'm conservative in certain aspects, but that's not good enough for him. He is very annoying at times!

Guy LeCharles Gonzalez said...

We're comparing apples to oranges here. The Limbaughs, et al, aren't out blowing people up because they don't have to. They're the ones on top. They have a forum to spew their bile and they have legions of people that lean on their every word. And fill their wallets. Because in the end, that's what all of these guys represent - good old capitalism and the opportunity to make a buck. They don't care that Joe Bob in middle America takes the things they say to heart and then go out and beat up a homosexual. Or an Arab. Or a protestor. Their form of "terrorism" is to spout hate and prejudice under the umbrella of freedom of speech. As long as they don't curse or talk about sex, it's all good.