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Even a Broken Clock.... By: Ben Johnson
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, September 22, 2006

A day after Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez cited Noam Chomsky and called President Bush “the devil”during a speech at the United Nations, he took to a church in Harlem, where he regaled a fawning crowd including Danny Glover and perhaps the second most feted professor in academia, Democratic Socialists of America member Cornell West.

Most critics of Chavez’s UN speech centered on his (literal) demonization of the president. There were also a share of lies in his speech. For instance, he stated, “Fidel Castro is the president of the [Summit of the] Non-aligned for the next three years, and we can trust him to lead the charge very efficiently.” Efficiency is a word used to describe Marxists only when they are purging their enablers. However, lies aside, it would be wrong to pass over the few things Hugo Chavez said correctly in his speech on Wednesday:


1. He repeatedly referred to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as “President Mullah.”


An old Chinese proverb holds, “The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names.” Despite the titular president, all power in the Islamic Republic of Iran is held by theocratic mullahs. Whatever laws are passed or accepted by Iranian lawmakers, including the president, the Ayatollah and his coterie of mullahs must give their imprimatur that they are in harmony with Shari’a law, the written will of Allah. As the elections of much-trumpeted “reformers” such as Presidents Rafsanjani and Khatami demonstrate, it makes little difference who the Persian president is: he is little more than the front man for aging, doddering, Islamist mullahs. The amount of attention paid him by the international media is out of harmony with his actual importance.


William F. Buckley Jr. once suggested to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations that UN “delegates from Eastern Europe must wear red uniforms when they appear on the floor and, before rising to speak, must seek explicit and public permission from the delegate of the Soviet Union.” [1]


Perhaps calling the “governmental head” of Iran “President Mullah” would be a worthy corollary.


2. “I don't think anybody in this room could defend the system. Let's accept – let's be honest. The UN system, born after the Second World War, collapsed. It's worthless.


…And Chavez’s speech would be exhibit A. The failure of the United Nations to verify Saddam Hussein’s compliance with the terms of his ceasefire, the Oil-for-Food scandal, its AWOL status on Rwanda and Sudan, blue helmet rape-mills around the world, Saudia Arabia serving on the UN Human Rights commission, and the non-stop rhetorical express condemning freedom and democracy would be additional notable examples.


To cite but one prescient deficiency: the most pressing issue facing the world is the threat that terrorists, or one of their state sponsors, will acquire nuclear material. A fanatical regime threatening to annihilate one of its neighbors has evaded all attempts to reign in its nuclear program. Thus, in April, the UN named Iran to its Disarmament Committee.


For this, we paid $5.3 billion to the United Nations in 2005 in toto last year. Hugo Chavez called on Wednesday for an end to Security Council vetoes. What is outrageous is not that the United States has a veto; it is that we pay nearly one-quarter of the UN’s operating budget but must share a five-way veto with nations that have paid far less – in money and blood – enforcing United Nations resolutions. President Bush foolishly brought the United States back into the supposedly rehabilitated UNESCO. He is now called a “unilateralist” for enforcing 12 years of UN Security Council resolutions.


The House passed a bill last year to withhold as much as half our annual UN dues. Indefatigable UN reform advocate Sen. Norm Coleman, R-MN, introduced a similar measure in the Senate. This April, he suggested monies earmarked for the UN Disarmament Commission be directed to other international humanitarian organizations. Despite the fact that no demonstrable progress has been made since the Oil-for-Food deal became both a lucrative source of income for Kojo Annan and Saddam Hussein’s uptown realtor, the spigot continues to flow.


The UN has become, in the words of another FrontPage Magazine columnist, “Too much of a joke to be funny.”


Again, Buckley had a suggestion: “A scientific tabulation will be made…of the compliance of individual countries with the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights…Any country with a ranking of less than 75 will not be permitted to speak on the subject of human rights.” [2]


Denying them the might be better yet. Perhaps the only way to correct this situation is for the democratic nations of the world to found a new international organization, one with standards – call it, the Liberty Coalition – in which every member must be a multi-party democracy that holds free elections (certified by someone other than Jimmy Carter), has a free press, freedom of religion, and a relatively free economy. Such an organization would shed China – perhaps soon Russia – leaving only France, Germany and (currently) Spain to outmaneuver. The added strength given to Australia, Poland, Ukraine, Japan, and Taiwan would more than compensate for the new Sick Men of Europe. International consensus would be easier to reach; anti-American rhetoric would be substantially reduced, and our considerable philanthropy would finally redound to our benefit.


3. “Maybe we have to put the United Nations somewhere else; maybe a city of the south. We've proposed Venezuela.


In addition to the “city” of Venezuela (socialist education in action), the short list of new homes for the UN should include Pyongyang, Tehran, Baghdad, Mecca, Havana, anywhere in Israel or the Palestinian Authority, and Darfur. Perhaps if the jet-setters had to worry about suicide bombers on their daily route to work or dodge IEDs in their limos instead of tooling around the Big Apple with diplomatic immunity, the actual state of those areas would seep into the UN’s consciousness and finally leak onto its agenda.


4. The worldwide Left believes President Bush – and the things he stands for are the works of El Diablo.


Even the most memorable aspect of Chavez’s speech – that President Bush is “the devil” – is instructive. Chavez has filled a gap as an iconic figure on the far-Left as the “new Castro” (though Steven Spielberg, Jack Nicholson, and Oliver Stone retain immense awe for the genuine item). As their representative, he said what everyone on the Left was thinking: President Bush – and America – is evil.


Certain members of the Left retreated Thursday in a belated attempted to distance themselves from Chavez’s rhetoric, most publicly Rep. Charles Rangel, D-NY. Former President Bill Clinton also expressed his views on a foreign leader denouncing his successor as evil incarnate (and part of “the Mafia”) during a U.S. trip with characteristic resolve, boldly telling Greta Van Susteren, “He shouldn’t have said that.”


However, not all leftists got the memo to pivot on their rhetorical axis. As I noted yesterday, some on the Left believe Chavez speaks for most of the world.


Moreover, he’s merely quoting their own. It would be impossible to top the vitriol directed against this president by the American Left. Just weeks ago, Sean Penn called the president “a Beelzebub, and a dumb one.” (Perhaps Chavez was channeling him…or Kathy Bates from The Waterboy? Her southern accent was more convincing than Penn’s in All the King’s Men.) Many leftist protestors have taken to the streets dressed as Satan in anti-American, antiwar rallies, and comparisons to “Hitler” – the closest thing in the public consciousness to an antichrist – have been ubiquitous.


This gives us a moment of clarity: Hugo Chavez, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Noam Chomsky, and a cheering gallery of UN delegates housed on land donated by the United States believe President Bush – a man who has dedicated his life to spreading liberty and democracy around the world – is the Great Satan. President Bush has stated Iran, North Korea, and Saddam’s Iraq – nations dedicated to spreading nuclear weapons, Islamic theocracy, and ethnic genocide, respectively – are the Axis of Evil. It is abundantly clear which side the Left is on. This and Chavez’s other inadvertent verities should be kept in mind as a light to voters’ feet a guide unto the Left.



1. Buckley, William F. Jr. Let Us Talk of Many Things: The Collected Speeches. (Roseville, CA: Forum, 2000), pp. 217-218.

2. Buckley, p. 218.

Ben Johnson is Managing Editor of FrontPage Magazine and co-author, with David Horowitz, of the book Party of Defeat. He is also the author of the books Teresa Heinz Kerry's Radical Gifts (2009) and 57 Varieties of Radical Causes: Teresa Heinz Kerry's Charitable Giving (2004).

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