Thursday, December 14, 2006

Clowns on the world stage

Challenging American global hegemony is a healthy phenomenon. However, when the challenges are made by heads of state who major in buffoonery, it isn't helpful. The most noted tormentors of the reigning superpower these days are Kim Jong-il of North Korea, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran.

As for Kim, well, what can one say -- a man as ridiculous as he is dangerous, a prancing clown of a man who rules his people with Stalinist terror.

Chavez, on the other hand, rules democratically, and pursues the enlightened policy of applying capitalism directly to the benefit of the poor - a novel and refreshing idea. Unfortunately, he smears his own image with pointless and provocative insults of the American president. Indeed, not only the American president. His gratuitous demeaning of former Mexican president, Vicente Fox, was instrumental in costing Lopez Obrador (Chavez's choice) the recent election.

And then there's Ahmadinejad. If there's anywhere the U.S. deserves to be challenged, it's in the Middle East. Ahmadinejad might seem the man for the job; unfortunately, he insists on playing the fool. His latest escapade, the Holocaust conference, was so petty, so childishly provocative, so sordid in its mockery of the murder of millions, even the most ardent opponent of American Middle Eastern policy was left feeling nauseous.

It's disappointing. The world needs more balance, more influence from non-Western leaders. Chavez and
Ahmadinejad, both democratically elected, are well-positioned to provide that balance and influence for their regions. How sad that they insist on behaving like juvenile delinquents.


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