The Recipe for Tyranny
I’m a skilled amateur chef and, indeed, one of the many (many) jobs I’ve held over the years is that I’ve worked as a cook. Given that background I can say with confidence that it’s very disconcerting when the recipe you’ve got in hand lists an ingredient that’s not mentioned in the preparational steps.
This morning Venezuelan Moisés NaÃm, editor of the magazine Foreign Policy, has an op-ed in the Washington Post in which he presents the recipe enabling autocrats to cook up a grab for power. Among its dozen ingredients is a gratuitous sideswipe against the United States:
A foreign superpower neutralized or distracted by other priorities and congested with too many international emergencies.
That ingredient does not figure in the ten preparation steps with which he follows.
Any number of other possible gratuitous criticisms would have been possible. For example, he might have criticized an international organization (which shall remain nameless) to which Jeanne Kirkpatrick, our delegate to the aforementioned unnamed international organization, referred as a Third World debating society as either that or a place where its delegates go to interview for a cushy bureaucrat’s job with the organization so they can live Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous away from their home countries. Or other developed nations who’ve never met an autocratic regime so heinous they were unwilling to cozy up to it to secure lucrative trade deals. But no.
What would he have us do? Should we have bombed Venezuela? Invaded it? Blockaded it? Embargoed its goods? Damned it on the floor of the General Assembly? Imposed sanctions? Issued a stern demarche? Would any of those things have helped Venezuelans? And what of their rights to self-determination?
Isn’t it even in the realm of possibility that somewhere, somehow there’s a tiny, miserable country whose misery was caused entirely by its own society and actions?
The actual recipe may be a good one and it may be a favorite of autocrats everywhere but it’s left a bad taste in my mouth.