Friday, November 04, 2005

A Sure Sign of a Reasonable World... when people compare Che Guevara with President George W. Bush and find the President wanting.

Yeah, that dog'll hunt, all right.

Just ask all the wonderful beneficiaries of Guevara's life's work. Better yet, look at which direction the rafts are going.

Nonetheless, the Reasonable have spoken:
In the birthplace of Ernesto "Che" Guevara - one of the 20th century's great icons of liberation - and in a nation where most adults remember life under a brutal military dictatorship, you might think there would be greater appreciation for a world leader who champions freedom through prosperity and democracy. But no.

President George Bush finds little respect in Argentina. In some ways, the Guevara comparison is unfair. History hasn't judged Bush yet, and analysts here note that Argentina's favorite son benefits from a mythological status that allows vendors to sell Che T-shirts for $40 in London and New York. But there are revealing distinctions about Latin Americans' views of the freedom each symbolizes.

"Che's liberty was not individual freedom, it was the independence of countries and the liberation of the collective poor of those countries," says Manuel Mora y Araujo, director of Ipsos-Mora y Araujo, a prominent public-opinion analysis agency here. "But for Bush it is about individual freedoms. He is the archetype of the conservative, whereas Che was the archetype of the socialist."


Ricardo López Göttig, a young Argentine historian, says Guevara was basically about "freedom from" - from the survival-of-the-fittest nature of capitalism, from the crushing wearing-down of poverty - while Bush is about "freedom to" - to make one's own life.

"Che wanted a return to a simpler, communitarian life where there was no property and the individual was absorbed in a protective, collective whole," Mr. Lopez says. "Bush stands for a freedom for the individual, but it is a freedom exposed to competition, conflict, and without protection from failure. At a time of globalization and increasingly complex living," he adds, "the discourse of Che Guevara has a certain attraction."

The challenge for what Mora y Araujo calls a "current" would-be liberator is that he is judged against the backdrop of current events - a fact that exposes Bush to charges of hypocrisy that Che the myth doesn't face. For example, Mora y Araujo says, people look at Iraq and conclude there is no freedom.

And there is the example of the US. "Bush is no longer just the post-9/11 president, he is now the post-Katrina president," says Oscar Raúl Cardoso, a political analyst and radio talk show host here, referring to the "gaps" in American society exposed by the hurricane. "People hear that Bush's tax cuts benefited the wealthiest 4 percent of the population, then they see what Katrina revealed," he says. "There are some people in Argentina who lend an ear when Bush talks about freedom," he adds, "but the majority by far has a hard time swallowing it."
Guevara good; Bush bad. Right.

The President has earned his share of criticism. His administration faltered in addressing the post-Katrina mess in NOLA from the Federal end. Cronyism, in the form of Michael "Brownie" Brown, reared its ugly head and reached it's sickening nader in the Miers fiasco. A power-drunk Republican Party, in charge of both houses of Congress, hasn't met a spending bill it doesn't like--and no veto's in sight. Add to that the resistance of the administration to an anti-torture ammendment, the disclosure of CIA-sponsored--and classified--prisons and the indictment of "Scooter" Libby, and "whoa, Nellie!" What a tangled web this President weaves. And let's not even add Iraq into the mix!

It's difficult to imagine a more dysfunctional performance from a world leader. Clumsy misstep after clumsy misstep has been the recent order of the day. In the end, however, these are the stumblings of an honorable man that attempts to implement policies with the best of intentions.

Then, there's Che.
hrough his first-hand observations of the poverty, oppression and powerlessness of the masses, Guevara decided that the only remedy for Latin America's economic and social inequities lay in revolution. His travels also inspired him to look upon Latin America not as a collection of separate nations but as a single cultural and economic entity, the liberation of which would require an intercontinental strategy. He began to develop his concept of a united Ibero-America without borders, bound together by a common 'mestizo' culture, an idea that would figure prominently in his later revolutionary activities.


Guevara exhibited great courage, skills in combat, boldness and intrepidity, an outstanding self-discipline, and high expectations towards himself and others, and soon became one of Castro's ablest and most trusted aides. He also took the responsibility for the execution of several informers, deserters and spies in the revolutionary army.


Che Guevara became as prominent in the new government as he had been in the revolutionary army. In 1959, he was appointed commander of the La Cabaña Fortress prison. During his six months tenure in this post (January 2 through June 12, 1959[5]), he oversaw the trials and executions of many people including former Batista regime officials, members of the BRAC[6] secret police, alleged war criminals, and political dissidents. The amount of executions vary with source. Some sources say 156 people were executed, while others claim more. Cuban journalist Luis Ortega, who knew Che as early as 1954, writes in his book "Yo Soy El Che!" that Guevara sent 1,897 men to the firing squad. In his book "Che Guevara: A Biography," Daniel James writes that Che himself admitted to ordering "several thousand" executions during the first few years of the Castro regime.[7] Pierre San Martin, a political prisoner, recalled in a November 1996, El Nuevo Herald article, that he along with multiple other prisoners witnessed Che personally execute a 12 year old boy for trying to defend his father from the firing squads.


Prior to the Cuban Missile Crisis, Guevara was part of a Cuban delegation to Moscow in early 1962 with Raúl Castro where he endorsed the planned placement of Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba. Guevara believed that the installation of Soviet missiles would protect Cuba from any direct military action against it by the United States. Jon Lee Anderson reports that after the crisis Guevara told Sam Russell, a British correspondent for the socialist newspaper Daily Worker, that if the missiles had been under Cuban control, they would have fired them.
(Emphasis mine.)
Che Guevara killed countless numbers of people in order to manifest his twisted totalitarianism. He would have killed hundreds of thousands, if necessary. His fanaticism would make an Al Qaeda suicide bomber blush.

And the good folk of Argentina find President Bush wanting compared to him?

If this isn't evidence of how sadly Reasonable the world has become, I don't know what would be.