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Croesus, Ceasar, Chavez?

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 5:24 pm - December 3, 2007.
Filed under: Anti-Americanism Abroad,Politics abroad

In 549 B.C.E., Croesus, then secure as King of Lydia (a nation in what is now western Turkey), sought to expand his power by challenging the then-nascent Persian Empire. Because of the rapid expansion of that neighbor to the east, Croesus assumed it would be vulnerable to attack from his, a nation which has long since secured its power over the lands under its control. He grew ever more confident of his impending victory when he consulted the Oracle a Delphi and learned that if he crossed the river Halys, the boundary between the two realms, a great empire would fall.

When he crossed that boundary, an empire did indeed fall, but it was his own. Had he not sought to expand his realm — and his power, he would have likely continued to reign as a powerful king until his death. No wonder history remembers him not for his leadership, but for his wealth.

Half a millennium later, having defeated his rivals (and some former allies), Julius Caesar returned triumphant to Rome. He was assembling armies to attack the growing Parthian Empire in the East. Given his military record, his success seemed likely. But, before departing on that campaign in February 44 B.C.E, he declared himself dictator for life. A month later he was dead, murdered by a conspiracy which included some who had, until that declaration, supported him.

I thought of those men last night when I read that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez lost a referendum which would have strengthened the powers of the presidency and allowed him to run indefinitely for reelection. Even though Chavez controls the media on his nation, having closed down an opposition television network, he lost, in large part due to the “defection” of some of his erstwhile supporters who spoke out against this initiative.

While some of those supporters might continue to support the leader with aspirations of life-time dictatorship, his loss may serve as a rallying point for the opposition. They know now that he is not invincible. As Daniel Duquenal writes at Pajamas, “a revolution that loses an election is always in trouble.

Perhaps, just as those two historical rulers lost their secure positions of leadership when they overreached, so too will the Venezuelan strongman also fall for overreaching. Instead of this referendum serving to consolidate his power, it may will serve as the beginning of the end of his domination of Venezuela.

It’s too soon to tell whether or not this is the beginning of the end. With his nation’s economy in the tank despite rising fuel prices (which should be helping this oil-exporter), his people might start blaming their demagogic president for their woes. And now that he has been proven vulnerable, he may not be able to contain the forces rising against him.

Time will only tell whether this referendum represents a setback for Chavez or becomes the first nail in the coffin of his aspirations to control his nation as his buddy Castro has long controlled his.

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21 Comments

  1. You used Croesus and Ceasar to compare Chavez too? Show-off! 😉 Not bad comparisons actually and the first one while I knew about it wouldn’t have immediately sprung to mind. God willing Chavez’ days in power are numbered – single digits would be preferrable.

    Comment by John — December 3, 2007 @ 7:11 pm - December 3, 2007

  2. Caesar. Caesar. 🙂

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — December 3, 2007 @ 7:36 pm - December 3, 2007

  3. Anyone know of a good velvet painting of Chavez I can get to hang next to my Daniel Ortega and Che velvet paintings? (I am also looking for an Allende in the oversized helmet velvet painting.) Meanwhile, Castro continues to crap in a bag of his design.

    Comment by heliotrope — December 3, 2007 @ 8:03 pm - December 3, 2007

  4. Who was it that was gloating on a Chavez victory down-blog?

    The tyrant is slowed, but not stopped

    Comment by The Livewire — December 3, 2007 @ 8:06 pm - December 3, 2007

  5. Hey, you guys were always claiming he was one of the worst dictators in the world. What kind of a dictator worth his salt loses a referendum?

    Comment by Ian S — December 3, 2007 @ 8:13 pm - December 3, 2007

  6. Please have some self-respect Ian and dont stoop to defend him just because we’re opposed to him

    Comment by Vince P — December 3, 2007 @ 8:16 pm - December 3, 2007

  7. Ian just loves that Chavez shut down the opposition media in his country. His kind would love to do the same to FoxNews and talk radio.

    Comment by V the K — December 3, 2007 @ 8:30 pm - December 3, 2007

  8. #6: Hey, you were the ones calling him a terrible dictator and I’m just saying I don’t recall the last time a dictator lost a referendum. The implication is that perhaps he’s not the Saddam wannabe you thought he was.

    Comment by Ian S — December 3, 2007 @ 9:51 pm - December 3, 2007

  9. A minor setback for Chavez. Don’t forget that he still controls the legislature, the supreme court, the media, the oil company and the treasury. And the majority poor class still love him and support him. I hope this is the beginning of the end of his government, but I fear that he will only find another way of extending his control and getting his way.

    Comment by Cecil — December 3, 2007 @ 11:05 pm - December 3, 2007

  10. Ian S: Not a Saddam wannabe, but a Mugabe wannabe. By the time the Venezueans understand what is happening to their country, it will be too late.

    Comment by bristlecone — December 4, 2007 @ 12:26 am - December 4, 2007

  11. how about a Big One for Monarchy?? It was Juan Carlos’ telling the buffoon to “shut up” that revealed the cracks in the Dictator. And Venezuela listened.

    I would bet that there were lots of votes against Chavez that were ‘lost.’ But, there were so many, it was completely unexpected, even by Jimmy Carter’s crowd, and some 2% slipped by the guardians.

    Comment by heather — December 4, 2007 @ 1:06 am - December 4, 2007

  12. So, Chavez shut down opposition media, has his thugs fire on peaceful opposition protesters, locks up dissidents, nationalizes multiple industries, confiscates property, packs the legislature and the courts with rubber-stamp apparatchiks, rules by decree, makes common cause with Islamists like Ahmadinejihad and tyrants like Castro and Mugabe… but just because he loses an election, he’s suddenly not such a bad guy? Right, Ian. Of course, you never thought he was such a bad guy to begin with.

    Comment by V the K — December 4, 2007 @ 4:56 am - December 4, 2007

  13. “B.C.E”, really? You guys are doing that now?

    Comment by Jimmy — December 4, 2007 @ 6:34 am - December 4, 2007

  14. I’d bet Chavez lost by a lot worse than 49/51. He looked at the results of the election, and decided NObody was going to believe he won. Which stood a chance of making Venezuela ungovernable.

    So declaring 49/51 was a way of giving people what they strenuously wanted, while saving face. Face is important to a dictator.

    Comment by Dr. Ellen — December 4, 2007 @ 9:13 am - December 4, 2007

  15. Dr. Ellen, I’m sure you’re not the only one wondering if the margin for “No” was actually greater.

    Comment by GayPatriotWest — December 4, 2007 @ 11:43 am - December 4, 2007

  16. I was surprised by the initial bulletin @1:10A.M. in Caracas from the CNE (Naqtional Elections Commision) the talley was 49.9% yes and 50.1% no. In his press conference Hugaocalled it a photo finish but said the results are irreversible. The closeness of the results said one of two things or both; there was stuffing of the ballot box and/or the large number of abstentions would´ve voted no but were afraid of possible violence. The Globovision poll on Alo Ciudadano, usually showed by call in 20% yes and 80% no. Another newspaper just before the election showed 39% yes and 61% no.

    Chavez, before the election, saild he would expell reporters or shut down the media for violation of election rules. The violation show was one his deputies from the Assembly, Iris Varela who gained international fame for assalting the moderator (anti-Chavista) of a talk program. She lead a motorcade in Tachira (her district) wearing the t-shirt Vota Si por Chavez which is a violation of election rules. So far she has not been expelled.

    Cecil is right. Chavez has the power to make laws, rule by decree, since the plebiscite of December 2006. His term in office expires 2013. This gives him time do a lot of damage in his country and in the rest of Latin America. His national budget carries a large line for ¨Friends of the Revelution,¨to support acolytes in other countries who will follow his communist agenda. My fear, living in El Salvador, is that he will pour huge sums in the coffers of the FMLN. Ín the past their candidate, the late Shafik Handel, was easy to defeat. He was in the mold of Fidel Castro. Now their candidate, Mauricio Funes, a tv copmmentator on leftist tv channel 21 is more like Correa of Ecuador.

    Comment by Roberto — December 4, 2007 @ 11:56 am - December 4, 2007

  17. I’m just saying I don’t recall the last time a dictator lost a referendum.

    Are you really an idiot or do you just play one on the internet?

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — December 4, 2007 @ 11:57 am - December 4, 2007

  18. The left has a funny concept of democracy. According to the AP, Cuba is a democracy. I guess we should also expect the left-wing press to proclaim that Iran is gay-friendly, India is dangerously underpopulated, and the economy of Zimbabwe is the envy of the world.

    Comment by V the K — December 4, 2007 @ 1:41 pm - December 4, 2007

  19. Chavez is a dead man walking. His countrymen have known freedom…..and someone will, in time, make him face a sticky end.

    Furthermore, America is addicted to oil. You don’t come between a junky and his fix. America will see to it that he finds his grave sooner than later. Only Fools insult the mighty.

    Talk softly, and carry a big stick still applys…..right Teddy!

    Comment by Michael — December 4, 2007 @ 3:45 pm - December 4, 2007

  20. #13

    The B.C.E. is a bit bothersome. Who signed off on it anyway?

    Comment by MARGO — December 5, 2007 @ 12:42 am - December 5, 2007

  21. Is GPW Jewish?

    Comment by Vince P — December 5, 2007 @ 4:15 am - December 5, 2007

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