Two articles today allow us to think that the US will not be as tame in its relations with Chavez, no matter which is the new administration. We already know that Obama and McCain have been competing in being the harshest on Chavez and his pals, but what these two articles make us see is that the "anti-Chavez feel", to give it a name, is percolating beyond the presidential candidates circles, an essential condition for a bipartisan policy against Chavez to be implemented.
The first one is an editorial, no less, from the Washington Post. Here the novelty is a clear petition that the US only helps friendly regimes and let the other ones sink in the "XXI century socialism" predictable fiasco. I am not too sure about the hang up about Correa who is weaker than one would expect in spite of winning his referendum in rather scandalous conditions. To begin with he lost in Guayaquil, his home state, thus previewing the rise of a strong opposition much faster than what many will expect. And second the dollarization of Ecuador's economy which will limit his range of action. If Correa dares to leave the dollar zone the backlash could quickly undermine him and create conditions for an early exit. After all dollarization survived the constituent assembly, the ideal time to make such change, and thus Correa might have missed his real chance at controlling all à la Chavez.
But the Post is right on one thing: the satellites of Chavez need more the US than the US needs them and it is simply fair that the US start using its leverage in forcing them to chose once and for all between socialist misery or democracy and a diversified economy. The resources recovered them can be transferred to more reliable partners or allies such as Colombia, Peru and the rest of Central America. Crisis or no crisis, "capitalism" and true democracy have demonstrated historically to be resilient, a re-inventive system whereas autocratic socialism has yet to establish a successful example anywhere in the world. Time is on the US side and Western values and thus it is time that the US starts speeding things up by choosing who to help: the other side will rot even faster.
The other article is from O'Grady at the WSJ. It is a direct warning that the congressional democrats need to put their act together. We do observe indeed a tendency from the House to be too lenient towards extremist groups while refusing to vote the free trade treaty with Colombia. However we cannot help but be dismayed by that congressional ambivalence that does not exist with Obama who is called to become their leader next November (I think it is in the bag for him as I cannot foresee how the GOP will recover in one month from the financial crisis). I suspect that once Obama is in the white House things will straighten up some as it has been clear that part of the ambiguous congressional posturing was for electoral purposes. Freed of that pressure and looking ahead to 8 years of rule the trade treaty with Colombia can be easily voted, in particular with the help of Chavez as he wants nuclear energy. We should not forget that we can always rely on Chavez to offer his enemies the necessary arguments to counterattack him.
If the current summary of Venezuela situation by Ms O'Grady is excellent (includes a video where she stumbles on the word Nuclear), we can still regret that she could not resist the cheap shot of showing Pelosi and Cordoba in chavista red. The picture was taken a year ago, when Cordoba was still not as implied in terrorist activity and before the freedom of Ingrid Betancourt. Since that picture was taken even Chavez publicly broke with the FARC (even if we all know that secretly he is doing anything he can to help them, but that is another story). Probably today Cordoba would not be received anymore by Pelosi. However this partisan moment of O'Grady does not diminish at all the main point she makes: the US Congress will have to chose sides if it hopes to retain any relevance.