Another podcast with Brian

Brian Micklethwait and I did another podcast this evening. Areas covered included Peru, Columbia, Italy, the U.K. and the U.S.A..


More from Columbia

Reuters (permalinks are rubbish so I don't use theirs) reports:
BOGOTA, Colombia (Reuters) - Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, a key U.S. ally in Latin America, swept to an emphatic election victory on Sunday, rewarded by voters for confronting guerillas, paramilitaries and drug traffickers in a country bloodied by years of conflict and crime.

In Colombia's most peaceful election in years, Uribe won a second four years in office with 62 percent of the vote.

The key to Uribe's expected success was a crackdown on the right-wing militias and leftist FARC rebels, who use the profits from supplying cocaine and heroin to U.S. consumers to sustain their insurgency.

The story goes on to explain why Mr Uribe should lose the guerrila war, by not being beastly to the Communists.

Gateway Pundit has a more positive view of the events, from a U.S. perspective:
Pro-American President Alvaro Uribe, whose father was killed by guerillas 22 years ago, won big in his re-election attempt as Colombian President.

Pierre Rousselin in Le Figaro (sorry the link is broken, try searching "debats" page for 30 May 2006) offers a robust endosement of President Uribe's re-election:
La présidentielle a été un plébiscite pour la politique de fermeté du chef de l'Etat. Réélu dès le premier tour avec un record de 62% des voix, Alvaro Uribe sort considérablement renforcé du scrutin. Les Farc, qui, à la différence des précédents scrutins, avaient appelé les électeurs à se prononcer contre le président, subissent, de leur côté, une grave déroute politique, notamment dans les zones qu'elles prétendent contrôler. Leur cruauté et leur refus obstiné de tout contact avec le gouvernement ne pouvaient conduire à un autre résultat. Il remet à leur juste place les prétentions politiques d'une organisation mafieuse pour qui l'idéologie stalinienne n'est plus qu'un paravent.

Rough translation: Presidential election was plebiscite about the tough policies of Uribe. Outright winner in the first-round [so no second ballot necessary] with a record 62% of the vote. FARC, unlike previous elections had called on the population to vote against Uribe [instead of boycott - they must have REALLY been scared of him]. FARC was routed in the areas it claims to control. The group's cruelty and lack of negotiation was bound to lead to this. FARC exposed as a mafiosi outfit with pretensions of Stalinism.

Accusing Stalinists of being fakes is pretty wild! Only in France.


Have I missed anything?

A destroyed society.

Politicians loot. Vote for bigger looters. Politicians loot even more. Rebels who are even worse than the politicians kill. The army kills too. Vote for really bad looting politicians.

Blame the U.S.A.. Vote for the most anti-U.S. candidate possible. The candidate loots even worse than everyone else so far. Blame the U.S.A. Support a rebel who kills anyone.

The economy is a disaster (no kidding!). Politicians blame the U.S.A.. Vote for them. Politicians carry on looting. Vote for the officer who tried to take over by force. The officer cancels elections and kills more people. The officer loots even worse than the others (but kills anyone who talks about it).

Run away to the U.S.A..

Complain that the U.S.A. does not adopt the same political-economic system that is familiar from the home country. Blame the U.S.A.. Campaign to turn the U.S.A. into part of Mexico.

Then, repeat all of the above.

Peru is a basket case. The election will make things worse, unless people start acting responsibly. There are few incentives to do so however.

Daniel Hannan writes:

On the far Left stands Alan García who, as president between 1985 and 1990, suspended foreign debt payments and nationalised what remained of the private sector, including the banks. The result? An absolute decline in national wealth, mass unemployment and 7,649 per cent inflation.

On the even further Left stands Ollanta Humala, a cashiered ex-officer who sees Velasco as his role-model. Humala combines socialist economics with aggressive nationalism and a millenarian appeal to the indigenous peoples. His violent rhetoric has left opponents wondering whether, if he were to win, there would be any more elections.

Why have Peruvians put these two men in the final? Precisely because they have had enough of politics and politicians. They have been systematically looted by every regime they can remember.

They have seen a country that has colossal natural wealth - tin and copper, petrol and fisheries, silver and gold - reduced to pauperism. Such is their mood that, the more obnoxious a candidate seems to the governing caste, the more they want to support him.

They are voting, not in the hope of sensible economic reform - they have long given up on that - but as a howl of protest against the system.

Update: Thanks to Brian Micklethwait for correcting an embarrassing spelling mistake.


How to create a conspiracy theory

Give Ariel Sharon the wrong injection and put him in a coma at the start of an election campaign.

Warner still looks like a good outside bet

Hillary Clinton remains the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. presidential election in 2008. If she doesn't get the nod, my consistent guess has been that Mark Warner, the Virginia Governor who stood down with over 80% approval ratings in a broadly Republican state is the best pick.

Here, My DD publishes a somewhat glowing plug for Mr Warner.

Warner has been tracking a clear second place for several months now. Unlike John Edwards, who stood down as Senator in North Carolina (to avoid getting beaten in 2004), I would expect Warner to be an asset in the South.

There are solid (if only in terms of national name-recognition) and well-funded alternatives: John Kerry and Al Gore immediately spring to mind. Anyone offering good odds that Mark Warner will not get either the President or Vice-President nomination should be taken on.

Moment of glory

Ok so it was over a month ago, but I made top billing on Pyjamas Media. And the hit-counter went beserk.

I still think the Democrats won't win either House in Congress this autumn, although the Republicans seem to be helping them as far as humanly possible.

Do the Rights Brothers have it right for George Bush?

You can be sure that there isn't a British rock band that is technically as good as this, nor that has such a pro-Bush, pro-Blair line. The camera work on the video seems better than amateurish too.

The Right Brothers project the U.S.A. more accurately than the MSM (now there's a surprise). It's a safe bet that anyone with brains on the Al Qaeda payroll sees the U.S. economy doing a lot better and the U.S. military as more effective than Reuters or the AP do. It's probably fair to say that among Al Quaeda operatives, stories of U.S. military atrocities and torture (to the extent that they are real) do not come across as a sign of moral weakness.

Interesting times...