No society, no politics

The BBC ran a story yesterday that I felt illustrated a particular shortcoming of US foreign policy:

The US defence secretary has accused Cuba and Venezuela of fomenting unrest in Bolivia, which has led to the overthrow of two presidents since 2003.

Rumsfeld, it would seem, would like to lump Venezuela in with Cuba as ‘nation non gratis’ to the US, a move which is only likely to improve the standing of President Chavez within his country. But that was not what was so striking.

Is it possible that foreign policy figures like Rumsfeld have no conception (are unable to conceive) that there is such a thing as domestic dissent against neoliberal policies?

As Nick is so well documenting, the Bolivian people have plenty of reasons to resent the policies imposed on them from above and to revolt as they have over the past months. But it rather feels as though, to Rumsfeld, any populace that is rising up against the policies his government advocates must be responding to external agitation from another government.

For Margaret Thatcher there was no such thing as society, for Rumsfeld there is no body politic, no “we the people.” (anywhere outside the US, at least).

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1 comment

  1. Hi James, I was going to blog on this. I think as you suggest it shows a very blind view of what’s going on. People can’t possibly be campaigning against the impact of policies that have made them poorer. It must be outsiders. Reminds me of a quote, I think by Rumsfeld, that the problems in Iraq are caused by foreign fighters. Of course he was not referring to US troops.