One-sided critique of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez argues that he poses a danger to the stability of the United States and world.
Democratic pollster Schoen (Declaring Independence: The Beginning of the End of the Two-Party System, 2008, etc.) and political consultant Rowan explore the personal and professional life of Chávez as a way of building their case that he is as much of a threat to the United States as Osama bin Laden. Chávez’s humble beginnings and career in the military fueled his resentment toward the powerful within Venezuela and their allies abroad, especially in the United States. Chávez found willing mentors who helped him rise through the ranks and forge alliances with Latin American leaders such as Fidel Castro and Daniel Ortega. The Venezuelan president has used his nation’s large supply of oil as a weapon to gain influence and respect in places where he might otherwise be ignored, the authors note. His deals with Joseph Patrick Kennedy II, who runs a company that provides fuel to low-income residents in the Boston area, have prompted many American liberals to praise Chávez as a humanitarian. Schoen and Rowan contend it is all a ruse and that he wants nothing more than to destroy the United States. “With Hugo Chávez commanding the Venezuelan pipeline, America is facing an unprecedented and unrecognized threat,” they write. “When asked about the looming scythe over our heads, State Department officials merely shrug, though the U.S. military’s threat assessment rule is to analyze an adversary’s capabilities first and intentions second.” While many of the authors’ points are well taken, sensationalistic prose detracts from their effectiveness and at times gives this work the feel of a book-length version of an article in a tabloid or conservative-opinion journal. One of the main targets of Chávez’s ire, President Bush, is about to leave office, but the authors don’t discuss what impact the new administration will have on his actions toward the United States.
Informative, though extraordinarily opinionated.