When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

24 January 2006

Two worth reading in Foreign Policy

A few articles in the most recent Foreign Policy that are worth a read:

How The French Fight Terror

In 1988, the FBI invited Alain Marsaud, then France’s top antiterrorist magistrate, to speak about terrorism to the bureau’s new recruits at its academy in Quantico, Virginia.

Marsaud, now a conservative lawmaker, told the audience of would-be feds of the deadly threat that radical Islamist terrorist networks posed to Western societies. His talk was an unmitigated flop. “They thought we were Martians,” recalls Marsaud, who chairs the French Parliament’s domestic security commission. “They were interested in neo-Nazis and green activists, and that
was it.”

Marsaud’s experience goes to show just how far Washington has come. Since Sept. 11, 2001, the United States has moved swiftly to overhaul its counterterrorism policy, and has hit some bumps in the road. The recent revelation that President George W. Bush mandated domestic spying has caused a political uproar, even among Republicans. Yet questions of spying, security, civil liberties, and privacy are not new to France, which found itself in the cross hairs of Middle Eastern terrorists well before the United States did...

Hugo Boss

As the 20th century drew to a close, Latin America finally seemed to have escaped its reputation for military dictatorships. The democratic wave that swept the region starting in the late 1970s appeared unstoppable. No Latin American country except Haiti had reverted to authoritarianism. There were a few coups, of course, but they all unraveled, and constitutional order returned. Polls in the region indicated growing support for democracy, and the climate seemed to have become inhospitable for dictators.

Then came Hugo Chávez, elected president of Venezuela in December 1998. The lieutenant colonel had attempted a coup six years earlier. When that failed, he won power at the ballot box and is now approaching a decade in office. In that time, he has concentrated power, harassed opponents, punished reporters, persecuted civic organizations, and increased state control of the economy. Yet, he has also found a way to make authoritarianism fashionable again, if not with the masses, with at least enough voters to win elections. And with his fiery anti-American, anti- neoliberal rhetoric, Chávez has become the poster boy for many leftists worldwide...

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