Among the many things one gets to observe travelling through the Empire (Tocqueville would have a field day again) is the ritual of the confirmation hearing. This time it was general Petraeus who was confirmed this morning by a 81 to 0 vote. Now, let's not be mislead by this number. It means that up to 19 senators did not like the general or the war he is about to lead but they are not going to make things worse by voting against him. Let's also see that the general named by Bush has got a bipartisan support even as the Senate is controlled by the Democrats since last month.
What does this say about US democracy? That no matter how partisan the situation is these days, on some essential matters the president is able to name a general but that general has to have excellent credentials, excellent enough to pass the scrutiny of 100 senators. Give and take of the highest quality, regardless of the morality of the Iraq war.
Now, what do we have in Venezuela? Well, the Venezuelan army might be buying Sukois from Russia but its main function is to hold food distribution schemes and serve the president for his pet services before they do serve the country. IF Colombia were to go to war with Venezuela it is all but certain that it would look forward an easy victory (posterior resistance is another matter, not for today's topic).
But we also have a president who decides on his own who becomes general, who gets promoted in general and who gets the coveted three suns that were given last to Eleazar Lopez Contreras, the last general to have seen real combat in history. But now we have a string of three mediocrities who have been battling cabbage and courtiers to gain the favors of Chavez, the latest one in date being Baduel who actually cried when Chavez announced publicly that he had gotten his third sun. That is, the emotion was in part, I hope, because Baduel knew he did not deserve the third sun of the Venezuelan army.
Now, more than ever Chavez is going to play with his army like he would play with his favorite toy. They will do his errands, and also his wars if he feels like it. And there will never be a confirmation hearing as of course the opposition can only be a treasonous entity that cannot be trusted on who distributes cabbages to the Venezuelan people.