In the year of our Lord 1987 i was junior political science major at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. I was one of 13 members of our Model United Nations team, and we had just decided to ask for the right to represent Venezuela. This isn't because Venezuela was the best we could hope for, but having played the United States in 1986 we needed to take a year off before playing the Soviet Union. You see, we were good. Really good. Almost the entire team went off to do graduate work and Wendall went into the State Department. During my three years on the team we were named Outstanding Delegation three times.
The reason we asked for Venezuela was that back then Venezuela was one of the world's behind the scenes players. Venezuela was almost always chosen as a member of the Security Council. They were liked by everyone from the first world to the non-aligned movement. Somehow Venezuela found a way to express the feelings of the developing world without pissing off NATO or the Eastern Bloc. They were moderate, thoughtful, and on the right side of everything. Representing Reagan's America or Gorbachev's Soviet Union I would have had problems with at least some part of their foreign policy. With Venezuela I was always on the side of truth and justice. When there was an agreement, Venezuelan diplomats were often found quietly at the center of it.
With this past it is only natural the Hugo Chavez's Venezuela would wish to return to the Security Council. They were regulars once and acceptance there would help demonstrate the legitimacy of his govenrment. The goal seemed achievable despite the Bush Administration's barely veiled contempt for Chavez, George Bush's most lasting achievement may be to have turned America into the most-hated nation on Earth, and enough people would like to tweak America's nose that Venezuela stood a good shot for that reason if no other.
Then Chavez gave his speech where he called Bush 'The Devil" and threw it all away.
I agree with a lot of what Chavez said. No president in our history has done more harm to Americam or the world, than George Walker Bush. Even James Buchanan cannot bear the same blame, if for no other reason than the die had already been cast when he assumed office as a caretaker. By 1856 war was probably inevitable. Americans were no longer talking to each other but past each other, much as they are today. Bush's arrogance, partisanship and ideological blindness have divided our country, His blatant militarism and impracticality have led us into one unwinnable war and possible defeat in the one war he did win. Calling him the Devil isn't accurate, but it's a lot more accurate than what Fox calls him.
Chavez also has reason to dislike Bush, who backed a failed attempt to depose him.
Nevertheless, fire-breathing speeches and name calling are not the act of statesmen. Statesmen put aside personal animosity and concentrate on the common good. Chavez gave a firey speech that no doubt will make him more popular in the streets from Caracas to Beirut. But rabble rousing has nothing to do with statesmanship.
My first political science professor, the late Joe Bindley, used to define politics as 'the art of the possible.' You are there to get something done for the people you represent. Venezuela in the Security Council stands for more than Hugo Chavez's opinions, or simple rage. It stands for the world. In 1987 Venezuela understood this. In 2006 Hugo Chavez demonstrated that it does not. While righteous anger feels good, it accomplishes nothing. And right now the world needs accomplishment more than ever.