Chavez Raving? Apparently, the Dodgers are Venezuelan.

Although Kim Jong-il seems to be, at present, more agreeable than in the past, one of his compatriots in the “Axis of Evil”, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, most certainly, remains a plausible threat to any notion of stability and peace in the world. Nevertheless, I continue to believe that the supreme manifestation of evil amongst world leaders remains in the Western Hemisphere.

Granted, he still may perform in a privately owned venue (though, in this increasingly socialistic country, such things may not for much longer exist), Alejandro Sanz, a popular Spanish singer, finds himself to be unwelcome at the state-held Caracas theatre where he had anticipated entertaining some fifteen-thousand fans.

Why? Three years ago, Mr Sanz spoke critically of Mr Chavez’s government. Yet again, Mr Chavez and his henchman have reminded us of the triviality of the freedom of speech in light of the greater good.

My particular variant of conservatism disposes me to question, I concede, just how sacrosanct this particular liberty is. Nevertheless, I by no means reject it, and certainly hold that in the case of questioning and criticizing the government, such a liberty, in fact, becomes a duty.

Ahmadinejad, it seems, is no hated tyrant in his nation; however, the Persian people seem not always to be wholly convinced of the benefits of the Islamic Republican government, to the point that some speculate that, were the United States to avoid such aggressive tactics when dealing with Iran, time might eventually show to the world a revolution of some sort against the current regime. At the very least, because democracy still exists to some degree in Persia, the voters have the opportunity, should they so desire, to replace him. Even the most moderate of replacements, of course, would still have his influence restrained by the Ayatollah, but the possibility of some degree of change, nevertheless, exists. North Koreans, by and large, it seems, loathe (even beneath the veil of the personality cult, which, perhaps, extends no further than the bureaucracy and military) the dictator whose policies have segregated the people from sufficient food and material supplies.

Venezuela presents a more distressing scenario. Mr Chavez continues to change (but not to reform — this distinction is imperative) the government in ways increasingly to centralize power in his hands. Any apparition of democracy serves only as a mask for tyranny here. As such, short of revolution, popular opposition to Mr Chavez has no significance. He remains free to act as he wishes, further strengthening the threat that he poses to what little good remains in this world.

By no means suggest I that the United States continue its policy of interventionism (the criticism of which stands as one of Mr Chavez’s few truly legitimate points worthy of note) by invading Venezuela or by otherwise attempting to remove Chavez by force. However, in retrospect, having tended to concerns within our own hemisphere prior to see conquering an imagined threat on the Tigris and Euphrates might have been a more appropriate action.

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