Freshly stoked by his appearance at Castro's recent frat party for all the coolest dictators and totalitarian loons – also known as the Non-Aligned Movement – Hugo Chavez appeared at the UN this week as the highlight of their annual ranting dictators week.
Eclipsing the bizarre messianic ranting of his new blood-brother Mamoud Ahmadinejad the day before, Chavez launched into a rich exploration of the kind of disjointed paranoid rambling which only a fledgling dictator can truly express. His speech started out with an endorsement for his new bible, Hegemony of Survival: The Imperialist Strategy of the United States, the latest opus from delusional socialist blowhard, Noam Chomsky. He then proceeded to an in-depth critique of President Bush's speech from the day before which mostly focused on his conviction that Bush is "imperialist, fascist, assassin, genocidal" and apparently the devil in human form, tainting the UN with the stench of sulfur. This is not my characterization of the speech, but actually what Chavez said, several times.
Then he got to the meat of his speech, and it came as a surprise. Chavez wants to reform the United Nations! He said:
But we, the assembly, have been turned into a merely deliberative organ. We have no power, no power to make any impact on the terrible situation in the world. And that is why Venezuela once again proposes, here, today, 20 September, that we re-establish the United Nations.
Well, that sounds like a good idea. That's something many in the United States have been talking about for years now. But then Chavez offered his Swiftian "modest proposals" (yes, he actually used that term), which apparently consisted of including more dictatorships on the Security Council, getting rid of the veto power and strengthening the Secretary General's powers – presumably so that Kofi Annan can engage in even more graft and corruption. But then he got to his main point. What's wrong with the UN is apparently that Venezuela doesn't have a seat on the Security Council and their headquarters is in the wrong place – it ought to be in Venezuela.
Well, I can agree with Chavez on at least part of this. We do indeed need to reform the United Nations. But the reforms which most sensible people have in mind don't involve giving more power to Kofi Annan and Hugo Chavez or moving the UN to Venezuela. What the UN actually needs is an Augean stables style cleanup, with meaningful membership criteria which would exclude nations which don't have open and verifiable elections and the rule of law from full voting membership, which would reduce Venezuela and most of its allies to non-voting status.
Not wanting to leave on a strong note, Chavez wrapped up with a plug for the Non-Aligned Movement (also known as Dictators Anonymous), another endorsement of the Chomsky book and a strange complaint that "the devil" was persecuting him by refusing to let his personal doctor off the plane in New York.
As always happens with a Chavez speech, lots of relevant issues were raised, albeit inadvertently. The first one is if he's so convinced we're trying to overthrow his regime, why we don't actually do something about it and sponsor a revolution in Venezuela. The second is the culpability of the extreme left in America and people like Noam Comsky for providing encouragment and an appearance of legitimacy to Chavez. As long as he has their hatred of their own country to bolster his position there will be continue to be people who take him seriously no matter what craziness he spews. And finally, why not give him what he wants – enough rope to hang himself? Let's send the UN to Venezuela and start a new and actually meaningful international organization to replace it.