CGI Update

It seems the real action is on the eastern shore of the island — Hugo Chavez spoke to the UN General Assembly and called George W. Bush the devil. Daniel Trotta reported for Reuters

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called George W. Bush “the devil himself” and told the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday the U.S. president had left the smell of sulfur hanging in the chamber from his appearance the previous day.

The U.S. rival and close ally of Cuban leader Fidel Castro used his speech before the assembly to accuse the United States of myriad evils such as helping render the U.N. Security Council worthless by robbing small nations of power.

“The devil himself is right in the house. And the devil came here yesterday. Right here,” said Chavez, who also called Bush a “world dictator.”

Speaking from the same podium from which Bush had addressed the assembly on Tuesday, Chavez said “it smells of sulfur still today, this table that I am now standing in front of.”

“The hegemonistic pretensions of the American empire are placing at risk the very existence of the human species,” Chavez said. “We appeal to the people of the United States and of the world to halt this threat which is like a sword hanging over our heads.”

I can’t see how Chavez’s rhetoric helps anybody, but I thought you would get a kick out of it.

“We’re not going to address that kind of comic strip approach to international affairs,” said US ambassador to the UN John Bolton, as he adjusted his cape. Then Bolton leaped into the sky and flew across the East River, yelling “Your ass is MINE, Voinovich! Captain Zemo doesn’t forget!”

And here I am stuck in the basement of the Sheraton, blogging.

I am continuing this first-hand blog coverage of the “urgent issues and innovative solutions” panel at the Clinton Global Initiatives conference; see earlier post here. I’m spending so much time on this panel that I’m missing the afternoon working sessions, but there was a lot said that I wanted to be sure somebody wrote about.

Remember awhile back when ABC’s Brian Ross reported that Osama bin Laden had been offered sanctuary in Pakistan? Musharraf said this agreement was not made between the government of Pakistan and terrorists. Rather, it was an agreement between a jirga (consultative council) of tribal elders in North Waziristan and the Taliban. Government officials were represented in the negotiations, but it’s actually the jirga‘s agreement, according to Musharraf. The basic provisions of the agreement are these:

1. Members of al Qaeda may remain in North Waziristan as long as there is no al Qaeda activity either in North Waziristan or across the border in Afghanistan.

2. Same thing goes for members of the Taliban.

3. There must also not be attempts at “Talibanization” in North Waziristan. “Talibanization” was defined by President Musharraf as a mindset that rejects music and television and enforces strict codes of conduct and appearance, such as making all men wear beards. The Taliban may not force other people in a community to abide by their rules, in other words.

There were no follow up questions on this point, so one asked Musharraf if this agreement might give sanctuary to Osama bin Laden if he popped up in North Waziristan and abided by the rules.

Musharraf said this agreement is already working. Yesterday some Pakistani Taliban crossed the border into Afghanistan to do mischief. Local tribal leaders who were signatories to the agreement arrested ten of these Taliban and turned them over to the Pakistani government.

Musharraf spoke at length at what he called “misperceptions” about terrorism and Islam. The turmoil began with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Pakistan joined the West in this fight against Soviet expansion. Pakistan’s contributions to the Cold War were critical to defeating the Soviets, he said.

But now we suffer from the fallout, he said. We helped the West, but in 1989 we were left high and dry to fend for ourselves. We took in 4 million refugees from Afghanistan, including Muhajadeen, and we got no assistance from the West. Then the Taliban formed. On top of this, he continued, we have problems on our eastern borders with terrorism in Kashmir. Our national fabric was destroyed by the fallout from Afghanistan, and we got no assistance whatsoever to rebuild it.

The real problem is not terrorism, he said, but extremism, and you can’t defeat extremism militarily. Instead, one must address problems in the “environment,” by which I infer he meant society and culture, so that the environment is no longer conducive to growing terrorism. Muslims feel they are being targeted by the West, which fuels alienation, which fuels extremism. Incidents like the infamous Danish cartoon flap only rubs salt in the wounds. Further, the extremists are convinced that modernization is westernization. Yet there is nothing in Islam that forbids modernization. And since Islam encourages making decisons by consensus, it is not in theory hostile to democracy.

Al Qaeda and the Taliban are very different, from Musharraf’s perspective, because the Taliban has its roots in the people of Pakistan, whereas al Qaeda are foreigners. This makes the Taliban a more intractable problem for Musharraf.

And the absolute foundation of Muslim unrest, said Musharraf, is the “Palestinian dispute.”

I see that Dave Johnson has posted about this morning’s panel also. And here is a real boring “MSM” story about the conference so far.

10 thoughts on “CGI Update

  1. Chavez has the right tone and aggressiveness toward Bush, however colorfully, that the Democrats lack. Hugo and George are great foils for each other, each brash in their own way. Chavez could give the Democrats some pointers. Anybody who’s been in a street fight could. I’m glad Bush didn’t get the last word at the UN.

  2. Wow Maha your bloggers lunch with BC made #4 on countdown tonight. Jane from FDL was a guest…

    Its pretty cool a lunch you had last week made national news…I hope you get a chance to see the clip someplace.. maybe Jane will have it?

  3. More on topic: I heard someone tonight suggest that Chavez’s remarks were anti American.I didn’t get anti Ameican from his remarks I got anti bush. I hope the American viewer is smart enough to recognize the difference, but I won’t hold my breath.

    I was also a bit suprised by Oberman whoI believe said that Chavez sounded like falwell?…and early in the evening , I happen to catch the first few minutes of brian williams ,talking to David Gregory expressing his shock that Chevez and the Iranian president were ALLOWED to come here and speak out against bush..someone needs to remind poor brian that NBC news and the constitution seem to have very different ideas on what free speech is. It is a right in this nation, not a privilge.

  4. I fell off my chair when I came to Bolton flying off into the sky. great.
    I gotta say with Chevez little stand up at the UN if they locked him in a room with Bushyboy I’m sure he’d have ol’ smirky in stitches.

  5. We haven’t had this much fun since Khruschev took off his shoe. Chavez is so determined to be a needle in Bush’s collar. It is funny

  6. RE:

    We helped the West, but in 1989 we were left high and dry to fend for ourselves.

    There were two things about the Afghan-Soviet war that I never understood

    – why the US supported Islamic insurgents over democratic one ? It’s not just that we trained Ben Laden, it’s that we did not train the democratic opposition.

    – Why, after the Fall of the USSR, we didn’t come in with a plan to make Afghanistan a land of milk and honey ? We did this in in Europe after World War II, and elsewhere since, why didn’t we (Bush I or Clinton) come in and say, now that we won, we will help you put back the pieces. Instead, we basically left them to rot.

    Lost opportunities, to be sure, but things I certainly wondered about at the time.

  7. Oh, and about Chavez, did anyone hear Bolton say that there was no freedom of speech in Venezuela ? From what I understand, there is a very noisy and unrestrained opposition press there, so that struck me as the lie direct, not that the 6:00 O’Clock news here in DC questioned it.

  8. – why the US supported Islamic insurgents over democratic one ? It’s not just that we trained Ben Laden, it’s that we did not train the democratic opposition.

    The reason is well known – we did NOT control who the money went to. In order to maintain plausible deniability we gave the money to Pakistan and THEY chose who got how much.

    Why, after the Fall of the USSR, we didn’t come in with a plan to make Afghanistan a land of milk and honey ?

    Because we were stupid and shortsighted.

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