A fundamental unseriousness

If it had the slightest interest in such things, chavismo could build an honest, cogent, powerful case against international intervention in Libya.

It could point out the thicket of contradictions that has led the United States to, at once, attack one Arab government (Libya) that is murdering its pro-democracy demonstrators while continuing to send weapons and “development aid” to another Arab government (Yemen) that is murdering its pro-democracy demonstrators.

It could note that Europe is now fighting an army equipped with European weapons bought with the proceeds of oil sales to Europe – a creature very much of its own making.

It could skewer the myth of “Arab support” for the intervention, pointing out the way governments busy violently squashing their own pro-democracy movements – Syria, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Bahrein – had the tremendous balls to vote to request a no-fly zone over a country doing the same thing – though, admittedly on a much bigger scale.

It could ask whether those governments aren’t simply working to deflect attention from their own authoritarian outrages by keeping Al Jazeera and the BBC focused squarely on Libya … and out of their hair.

It could point to the extraordinary position of the Saudi theomonarchy, which is now supporting two interventionist adventures at once: one to quash the democratic aspirations of Bahreinis, the other to stop Gaddhafi from quashing the democratic aspirations of Libyans.

It could note what a funny coincidence it is that the U.S. only seems to mount its enormously high horse to attack its enemies, but continues to support its allies as they do more or less the same thing.

Chavismo could, in other words, make a serious, honest, bracing critique of the U.N.-mandated intervention in Libya.

But it won’t.

In order to make that critique, it would have to face facts it remains ideologically committed to ignoring. It won’t because it lacks the intellectual integrity to squarely acknowledge Gaddhafi’s indiscriminate use of military weapons against civilians.

It won’t because it has chosen to potray a sophomoric, deeply ahistorical narrative of the conflict where the allies are only out to get Libya’s oil … as though Repsol, Wintershall, Total, Eni, OMV, Shell, the Oasis Group, Chevron, Marathon, ExxonMobil, and BP hadn’t been getting Libya’s oil just fine for the last eight years thankyouverymuch.

It won’t because Chávez remains determined to question the one aspect of the attack that’s actually beyond doubt: its international legality.

It won’t because it lacks even the modicum of seriousness it takes to act minimally responsibly on the international stage. Because it insists on treating the truth as a kind of play-doh to be moulded arounds its ideological pre-commitments.

It won’t, in the end, because Hugo Chávez’s principled refusal to let reality dictate terms to him is different from Muammar Gaddhafi’s only in degree, not in kind.