August 23, 2005

Robertson on Chavez Assassination

Pat Robertson said on his show 700 Club this of Hugo Chavez, the anti-democratic President of Venezuela:
    We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.
He said that we should assassinate Chavez, largely because it's more effective and far cheaper than going to war. In principle, I agree, but I don't think Chavez currently qualifies.

Targeted killing of enemy leaders should be an openly stated goal of the United States. In my opinion it should be done in cases where there is some sort of congressional authorization, and only after the person in question refuses to surrender peacefully. We should admit to taking out the leader after it's done, because there's nothing to hide, and before it's done it should be clearly stated that not surrendering leaves him open to being killed. It requires more nuance than this, and ultimately it would be hard to kill leaders because they'd know to either surrender or go into hiding.

I don't think Chavez should be killed, though. It's quite likely that the election irregularities are the visible signs of him stealing the elections. The massive protests from what appears to be a majority of the country - business, labor, media, professionals - sugfgests that his only supporters are the rural poor. His actions in nationalizing land and business, including the oil industry and seizing lands together equivalent to the size of Belgium, betray his opinions on privacy and individual autonomy. His friendship with Castro, Saddam and the FARC terrorists in neighboring Colombia, not to mention the two separate coup attempts he led in the early 1990s against his own country, show his anti-democratic biases. His plans to re-establish Venezuela as a quasi-fascist "Bolivarian Revolutionary" state and to establish an anti-NATO, anti-US military coalition out of South American states show his deep-seated anti-US, anti-Western biases.

But he isn't fighting a war and he isn't committing genocide. He definitely needs to be out of power, but I don't think military action is justified. We shouldn't go to war with Chavez, and so we shouldn't use soldiers to kill him. Although targeted killings of enemy leaders is far quicker and cheaper than war, we shouldn't take that to mean that it should be done with far less evidence or cause than a war would require.

So, I agree in principle that we should use targeted killings, but I don't believe Chavez yet qualifies for such an action.

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