- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating is associate editor at Foreign Policy and the editor of the Passport blog. He has worked as a researcher, editorial assistant, and deputy Web editor since joining the FP staff in 2007. In addition to being featured in Foreign Policy, his writing has been published by the Washington Post, Newsweek International, Radio Prague, the Center for Defense Information, and Romania's Adevarul newspaper. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN International, C-Span, ABC News, Al Jazeera, NPR, BBC radio, and others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he studied comparative politics at Oberlin College.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is loving WikiLeaks:
‘Somebody should resign … I’m not saying (President Barack) Obama, but they should do it out of shame … It is their empire left naked. You should resign, Mrs Clinton, it’s the least you can do,’ Chavez said late Monday.
‘This shows up the efforts of the United States to isolate this revolutionary soldier, but they will not manage it,’ he told Venezuelan television.
The documents showed how the United States ‘disrespects even its allies,’ he said. ‘This was signed by Clinton. Mrs Clinton thinks she is superior to Obama. Since she is white, she thinks she is superior to the black guy,’ Chavez noted.
Chavez’s political allies in Ecuador went even farther today, offering residence to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and praising his work.
Beyond reveling in the embarassment of the U.S. State Department, Chavez and friends actually don’t have very much to celebrate in the cables. If anything, a leaked description of a conversation between Assistant Secretary of State Philip Gordon and senior French diplomatic advisor Jean-David Levitte only reinforces Chavez’s increasing isolation:
Levitte observed that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is "crazy" and said that even Brazil wasn’t able to support him anymore. Unfortunately, Chavez is taking one of the richest countries in Latin America and turning it into another Zimbabwe.
Perhaps importantly, a dispatch from the U.S. embassy in Tegucigalpa from last June undercuts the widely-held belief within the Latin American left that the United States organized the ouster of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya. Bolivian President Evo Morales repeated this charge only last week at a speech attened by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates. But in the cable, written just days after the coup, the embassy is adamant that Zelay’s ouster was illegal:
The Embassy perspective is that there is no doubt that the military, Supreme Court and National Congress conspired on June 28 in what constituted an illegal and
unconstitutional coup against the Executive Branch, while accepting that there may be a prima facie case that Zelaya may have committed illegalities and may have even violated the constitution. There is equally no doubt from our perspective that Roberto Micheletti’s assumption of power was illegitimate. Nevertheless, it is also evident that the constitution itself may be deficient in terms of providing clear procedures for dealing with alleged illegal acts by the President and resolving conflicts between the branches of government.
The cable goes on to refute the argument, later advanced by members of the U.S. Congress, that Zelaya’s overthrow was consistent with the Honduran constition. True, the writer also suggests that the constitution may not have provided legal recourse for removing the president, but this is definitely not the smoking gun that Chavez was likely hoping for.
If any Latin American leader has a right to be upset at Clinton today, it’s Argentinian President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. A request for information from Clinton in December last year, reveals that the secretary had doubts about Kirchner’s decision-making style and even her mental health:
HOW IS CRISTINA FERNANDEZ DE KIRCHNER MANAGING HER NERVES AND ANXIETY? HOW DOES STRESS AFFECT HER BEHAVIOR TOWARD ADVISORS AND/OR HER DECISIONMAKING? WHAT STEPS DOES CRISTINA FERNANDEZ DE KIRCHNER OR HER ADVISERS/HANDLERS, TAKE IN HELPING HER DEAL WITH STRESS? IS SHE TAKING ANY MEDICATIONS? UNDER WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES IS SHE BEST ABLE TO HANDLE STRESSES? HOW DO CRISTINA FERNANDEZ DE KIRCHNER,S EMOTIONS AFFECT HER DECISIONMAKING AND HOW DOES SHE CALM DOWN WHEN DISTRESSED?
For one thing, this picture just took on very differnet overtones.