Tuesday, September 8, 2009

10 lessons we can learn from the rise of The Nasis

We have to learn from history........ always.
vdebate reporter

10 Lessons We Can Learn From The Rise Of The Nazis
by John Hawkins

Hitler did not rise out of a vacuum: Many people assume that another Hitler can rise up in any nation, but that's not necessarily so. Hitler's rise in Germany was not a forgone conclusion in Germany, but there were a number of conditions that made that country especially susceptible to it.
The Germans were a warlike people who were used to capitulating to authority and they had a long, rich philosophical bent towards hatred of the Jews and racial superiority. They also had minimal experience with democracy, a terrible economic crisis, the Versailles Treaty, which was an almost universally despised boot placed upon the nation's neck, and an independent military that played a powerful role in political affairs. Some nations, the United States included, have a character that simply precludes their being run by a "Hitler," no matter what the intentions of a leader may be.

All it takes for evil to win is for good men to do nothing: Many people are aware that Britain, France, Russia, and the other powers of Europe had the opportunity to stop Hitler, but the truth is that the German people had countless chances to do so as well.
When Hitler became Chancellor, the Nazi Party had never captured more than 37% of the vote and much of the rest of Germany considered them to be frightening gutter trash. In other words, 63% of the country didn't support Hitler and strongly suspected he was a dangerous man; yet they made no serious effort to stop him. On numerous occasions, Germany's political and military establishment were given excuses and openings that could have been used to bring Hitler down before he came to power and brought the nation fully under his control. Time and time again, people who knew better simply stayed quiet or decided to step aside rather than take a stand. The price Germany and the rest of the world paid for their failure to act is incalculable.
Take even non-reasonable claims seriously: Margaret Thatcher once said,
"It is one of the great weaknesses of reasonable men and women that they imagine that projects which fly in the face of commonsense are not serious or being seriously undertaken."
Hitler was not shy about telling people what he intended to do when he reached power. The first volume of Hitler's book Mein Kampf, which included a very rough blueprint of his plans, came out in 1925. Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933 and he swallowed Austria in 1938. Had Europe's leaders simply taken Hitler at his word about what he wanted to do and acted appropriately, he would have been squashed like a bug and humankind would have been spared another world war.
Watch what people do more than what they say: This one may seem to be a bit of a contradiction with the last one, so let me explain.
Surprisingly often, people with bad intentions will tell their followers exactly what they intend to do and then, when confronted by a power that could potentially stop them, whether it be another nation or just the voters who can put them out of office, they will simply lie.
So, if you're not sure what a nation or a leader truly intends, pay more intention to what they do than what they say. It takes a true fool to believe words over actions, but such fools were not in short supply during Hitler's day, nor are they uncommon today.
Diplomacy for its own sake is useless: There was no shortage of diplomacy between Hitler, his victims, and the great powers of the day. The problem was then, as it often is now, that so many people seemed to believe that diplomacy was an end unto itself. Hitler happily met with the representatives from other nations and either bullied them or told them what they wanted to hear. Then, he promptly did whatever he intended to do in the first place. That's why talk alone is meaningless and can even be detrimental if people mistake merely conversing for progress. If you have no carrots and sticks to bring to the table in order to produce the outcome you want, you are wasting your time.
Appeasement is a mistake: When you reward a behavior, it usually occurs more often. So, when a belligerent nation or group benefits from its belligerence, it should surprise no one when it continues to be belligerent. That principle applied to Hitler and it most certainly still applies today.
The mediocrity of political "leaders:" We have a tendency to believe that our political leaders are much better, smarter, and more capable than the average person. In some cases, that's true -- but today, as in Hitler's day, men like Churchill were rare as hens’ teeth while shortsighted, gullible, and foolish "leaders" were the rule. Those who are deeply skeptical of the competence and claims of their political leaders will find that history is almost always on their side.
Be very wary of people building power outside the rule of law: In 1923, Hitler tried to take over Germany with the poorly executed Beer Hall Putsch. Despite the fact that Hitler was convicted of High Treason, a sympathetic judge sentenced him to a mere five years, of which he only served nine months. Additionally, Hitler's own private army, the Brownshirts & the SS, assaulted his enemies, disrupted their political gatherings, and generally paved the way for his rise to power. This is an example of why allowing certain political groups and parties to be "above the law" can be a great threat to democracy.
There are things worse than war: More than 400 years before the rise of Hitler, Machiavelli wrote:
"One should never allow chaos to develop in order to avoid going to war, because one does not avoid a war but instead puts it off to his disadvantage."Had Britain and France acted when Hitler sent his troops into the Rhineland, threatened Austria, or even Czechoslovakia -- they could have stopped Hitler at little cost. While it's wise to fear war, it's better to go to war to eliminate a small danger than to allow it to metastasize into a dire threat to your way of life and simply hope against hope that you won't have to deal with it one day.
Everybody's not "another Hitler:" Know who's not another Hitler? Pretty much everybody who ever lived except for Adolph Hitler. Maybe you could get away with referring to Stalin or even Pol Pot as "another Hitler," but some off-hand comment in a speech or a policy people disagree with doesn't make a politician "another Hitler." Likewise, a 70 year old guy who gets testy with his congressman at a town hall meeting isn't a "Brownshirt" either. American politics could do with quite a bit less "You're a Nazi" rhetoric being tossed around by both sides.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Hugo Chávez's rival might be jailed in Venezuela

An arrest warrant was requested for Maracaibo Mayor Manuel Rosales. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez had previously threatened to wipe his rival from the political map. Manuel Rosales, who stood against Chávez in the December 2006 presidential election, attributed the arrest warrant to 'an order from Chávez' and said he would fight it on all fronts.

CARACAS -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez took a big step closer Thursday to his stated goal of putting his former rival for the presidency, Manuel Rosales, behind bars.

A prosecutor in the western border state of Zulia said she would request an arrest warrant for Rosales, the former state governor, who in November was elected mayor of Maracaibo, the state capital. The charge is ``illicit enrichment.''

Rosales, who stood against Chávez in the December 2006 presidential election, winning just less than 40 percent of the vote, attributed the arrest warrant to ''an order from Chávez'' and said he would fight it on all fronts.

In December, Chávez announced that he was ''determined to put Manuel Rosales in jail.'' Before the November election, he had threatened to launch ''a military plan'' against Rosales if he won. He has also threatened to ``wipe [Rosales] from the political map.''


Rosales, 56, was governor of Zulia from 2000 to 2008. In April 2002, he signed the infamous decree issued by the de facto president, Pedro Carmona, dissolving all branches of government but the executive, after Chávez was briefly ousted in an ultimately frustrated coup. The Venezuelan leader has never forgiven him for what he considers an act of treachery.

The arrest order now goes to a judge for a hearing within the next three weeks. If convicted, Rosales could face between three and 10 years in jail.

The specific charge, first leveled in 2004, is that Rosales failed to account for $66,000 in income, which the mayor says came primarily from his private activities as a rancher and was declared to the tax authorities.

It is just one of a number of accusations against him that have been raised, or revived, since Chávez warned three months ago that he was determined to jail him. In December, legislators in the national assembly, which is dominated by Chávez supporters, determined that the mayor was ''politically responsible'' for irregularities in the state lottery.

Pro-Chávez legislator Mario Isea has accused Rosales of having $11 million invested in several companies in Miami, supposedly the product of illicit enrichment.

Although the courts and the prosecution service are nominally independent from the executive, in practice they have a record of doing the president's bidding.

Last year, the New York-based watchdog Human Rights Watch said Chávez had, ''effectively neutralized the judiciary as an independent branch of government'' -- a charge emphatically denied by the government, which accuses the organization of anti-Chávez bias.


Political commentator Fausto Masó attributed the threat against Rosales to a desire on Chávez's part to ''inspire fear.'' But he added that the gamble was a risky one.

''Rosales isn't going to leave the country,'' Masó told The Miami Herald. ``And this could cause trouble in Zulia.''

Already, the opposition-run state, which has a history of resistance to central-government control, is up in arms over Chávez's decision this week to send troops to seize ports and airports across the country that for the past 20 years have been run by state authorities.

The move, which the opposition considers a blatant violation of the 1999 constitution, has provoked a strong reaction from opposition mayors and governors, who on Wednesday announced a united front in defense of the constitution and a plan for mass rallies.

''For the first time, we're seeing the [opposition] mayors and governors united,'' Masó said.

``And the tone of their speeches is much more aggressive now.''


Chávez has problems on other fronts, too, notably a growing number of labor disputes, affecting sectors of the economy as diverse as the industrial belt in the southeastern state of Bolívar to the hospitals and the Caracas metro.

Last week, 14 labor organizations from both sides of the political divide came together to form a Labor Union Solidarity Movement in response to verbal attacks on the unions by the president.

In the past, Chávez has shown a tendency to react to difficult circumstances by provoking conflict. It was this that almost proved his undoing in April 2002. But Masó points out that he sometimes retreats.

''Up to now, when he faces real difficulties, he backs down,'' Masó said.

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Venezuela: Dictatorship for Dummies

Venezuela: Dictatorship for Dummies
by Mary Anastasia O'Grady

Optimists have long theorized that Venezuela's Hugo Chávez would meet his Waterloo with the burst of the petroleum bubble. But with oil prices down some 75% from their highs last year and the jackboot of the regime still firmly planted on the nation's neck, that theory requires revisiting.

It is true that popular discontent with chavismo has been rising as oil prices have been falling. The disillusionment is even likely to increase in the months ahead as the economy swoons. But having used the boom years to consolidate power and destroy all institutional checks and balances, Mr. Chávez has little incentive to return the country to political pluralism even if most Venezuelans are sick of his tyranny. If anything, he is apt to become more aggressive and dangerous as the bloom comes off his revolutionary rose in 2009 and he feels more threatened.

Certainly "elections" can't be expected to matter much. Mr. Chávez now controls the entire electoral process, from voter rolls to tallying totals after the polls have closed. Under enormous public pressure he accepted defeat in his 2007 bid for constitutional reforms designed to make him president for life. But so what? That loss allowed him to maintain the guise of democracy, and now he has decided that there will be another referendum on the same question in February. Presumably Venezuela will repeat this exercise until the right answer is produced.

All police states hold "elections." But they also specialize in combining the state's monopoly use of force with a monopoly in economic power and information control. Together these three weapons easily quash dissent. Venezuela is a prime example.

The Venezuelan government is now a military government. Mr. Chávez purged the armed forces leadership in 2002 and replaced fired officers with those loyal to his socialist cause. Like their counterparts in Cuba, these elevated comandantes are well compensated. Lack of transparency makes it impossible to know just how much they get paid for their loyalty, but it is safe to say that they have not been left out of the oil fiesta that compliant chavistas have enjoyed over the past decade. Even if the resource pool shrinks this year, neither their importance nor their rewards are likely to diminish.

Mr. Chávez has also taken over the Metropolitan Police in Caracas, imported Cuban intelligence agents, and armed his own Bolivarian militias, whose job it is to act as neighborhood enforcers. Should Venezuelans decide that they are tired of one-man rule, chavismo has enough weapons on hand to convince them otherwise.

Yet the art of dictatorship has been greatly refined since Stalin killed millions of his own people. Modern tyrants understand that there are many ways to manipulate their subjects and most do not require the use of force.

One measure that Mr. Chávez relies on heavily is control of the narrative. In government schools children are indoctrinated in Bolivarian thought. Meanwhile the state has stripped the media of its independence and now dominates all free television in the country. This allows the government to marinate the poor in Mr. Chávez's antimarket dogma. His captive audiences are told repeatedly that hardship of every sort -- including headline inflation of 31% last year -- is the result of profit makers, middlemen and consumerism.

The Orwellian screen is also used to stir up nationalist sentiment against foreign devils, like the U.S., Colombia and Israel. The audience has witnessed violence in Gaza through the lens of Hamas, and last week Mr. Chávez made a show of expelling the Israeli ambassador from Caracas.

Investments in revolution around South America may have to be pared back as revenues drop. But outreach to Iran and Syria is likely to continue since those relations may serve as a source of financing Mr. Chávez's military buildup. In December, the Italian daily La Stampa reported that it has seen evidence of a pact between Caracas and Tehran in which Iran uses Venezuelan aircraft for arms trafficking and Venezuela gets military aid in return. This month Turkish officials intercepted an Iranian shipment bound for Venezuela that reportedly contained materials for making explosives.

Despite all this, the most effective police-state tool remains Mr. Chávez's control over the economy. The state freely expropriates whatever it wants -- a shopping center in Caracas is Mr. Chávez's latest announced taking -- and economic freedom is dead. Moreover, the state has imposed strict capital controls, making saving or trading in hard currency impossible. Analysts are predicting another large devaluation of the bolivar in the not-too-distant future. The private sector has been wiped out, except for those who have thrown in their lot with the tyrant.

The drop in oil revenues may impoverish the state, but the opposition is even poorer. Organizing a rebellion against a less-rich Chávez remains a formidable task.

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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Venezuela 'spy' law draws protest

A new intelligence law brought in by Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez has caused concern among rights groups who say it threatens civil liberties.

Mr Chavez argues the law will help Venezuela guarantee its national security and prevent assassination plots and military rebellions.

The new law requires Venezuelans to cooperate with intelligence agencies and secret police if requested.

Refusal can result in up to four years in prison.

The law allows security forces to gather evidence through surveillance methods such as wiretapping without obtaining a court order, and authorities can withhold evidence from defence lawyers if it is considered to be in the interest of national security.

One part of the law, which explicitly requires judges and prosecutors to cooperate with the intelligence services, has caused concern among legal experts.

"Here you have the president legislating by decree that the country's judges must serve as spies for the government," Jose Miguel Vivanco, Americas Director for Human Rights Watch, said.

US 'interference'

"The president is constantly calling opposition leaders coup-plotters and pro-imperialists, and that makes me suspect this law may be used as a weapon to silence and intimidate the opposition," said Alberto Arteaga Sanchez, a specialist in constitutional law.

"Among other problems with this law, any suspect's right to defence can be violated, and that's unacceptable," Carlos Correa, a leader of the Venezuelan human rights group Provea, said.

Mr Correa compared the law to the Patriot Act in the United States, which gave US law enforcement agencies greater powers to intercept communications and investigate suspected terrorists on American soil in the wake of the attacks on 11 September 2001.

Mr Chavez - who called the US Patriot Act a "dictatorial law" - denied the Venezuelan law would threaten freedoms, saying it falls into "a framework of great respect for human rights".

Mr Chavez used his decree powers to overhaul Venezuela's intelligence agencies, replacing the Disip secret police and the DIM military intelligence agency with the General Intelligence Office and General Counterintelligence Office, both under his control.

Interior Minister Ramon Rodriguez Chacin said the revamp was needed to combat "interference from the United States".

In December, Venezuelans rejected a package of constitutional changes aimed at cementing socialism into Venezuelan law which would have given the president the chance to stand for re-election as many times as he wished.

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Chávez Decree Tightens Hold on Intelligence

Chávez Decree Tightens Hold on Intelligence
Published: June 3, 2008

CARACAS, Venezuela — President Hugo Chávez has used his decree powers to carry out a major overhaul of this country’s intelligence agencies, provoking a fierce backlash here from human rights groups and legal scholars who say the measures will force citizens to inform on one another to avoid prison terms....

More on: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/03/world/americas/03venez.html?pagewanted=1&ei=5087&em&en=a87db9acdf2722c3&ex=1212638400

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Friday, November 16, 2007

A constitutional 'reform' could complete Venezuela's transformation into a dictatorship.

Mr. Chavez's Coup. A constitutional 'reform' could complete Venezuela's transformation into a dictatorship.
Thursday, November 15, 2007; A24
TENS OF thousands of Venezuelan students marched to the Supreme Court in Caracas last week to protest the new "socialist" constitutional reform that President Hugo Chavez is preparing to impose on the country. On their return, students from the Central University of Venezuela were fired on by gunmen who roared onto the campus on motorcycles. Nine were hurt; university officials later identified the shooters as members of government-sponsored paramilitary groups. That's just one example of the ugly climate of intimidation Mr. Chavez is creating in advance of a Dec. 2 referendum that he expects will formally confirm him as de facto president for life and give him powers rivaling those of his mentor, Fidel Castro.
Mr. Chavez's apologists like to dismiss the Venezuelan forces opposing his deconstruction of democracy -- which include the Catholic Church, the private business community and labor unions as well as students -- as a corrupt elite. So it's worth noting what some of Mr. Chavez's long-standing allies are saying about his constitutional changes.
The political party Podemos, whose members ran for parliament on a pro-Chavez platform, call it "a constitutional fraud." Mr. Chavez's recently retired defense minister, Gen. Raul Isaias Baduel, said it was an "undemocratic imposition" and that its approval would amount to "a coup."
In fact, Mr. Chavez's rewrite would complete his transformation into an autocrat. It would lengthen his presidential term from six to seven years and remove the current limit of two terms, allowing him to serve indefinitely. He would have broad powers to seize property, to dispose of Venezuela's foreign exchange reserves, to impose central government rule on local jurisdictions and to declare indefinite states of emergency under which due process and freedom of information would be suspended. As a populist sop, one provision would reduce the workday from eight to six hours; that benefit, the state's control over national television and the voting process, and the apparent intention of many Venezuelans to stay away from the polls are expected to deliver the necessary ratification.
The strength and courage of the resistance to Mr. Chavez is nevertheless growing. Despite the attacks by government goons, students have continued to march by the thousands. Bloggers have posted photos and videos of the government-sponsored violence. Opposition leaders have continued to speak out despite being labeled "traitors" by Mr. Chavez and harassed with death threats. Venezuela is on the verge of succumbing to a dictatorship that will isolate and retard the country, maybe for decades. It's encouraging that so many of its people aren't prepared to give up their freedom without a fight.

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