'New populists' vs. the West
Date: Sunday, February 12 2006
Topic: Canadian Politics
'New populists' vs. the West By Howard LaFranchi, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
Fri Feb 10, 3:00 AM ET
WASHINGTON - Some might call it the axle of anti-American populism.
With linchpins in Tehran on one end and Caracas on the other, a new brand of international populism is rising by fanning flames of division between Western powers and the "powerless" of the developing world.
Leaders, from Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez, are winning points at home by striking a nationalist and anti-American pose. Their method: Use the international stage to rail against what they see as a disconnect between the values espoused by the world's sole superpower and its actions.
• Mr. Ahmadinejad consolidates his domestic political power and wins support among several countries caught in America's cross hairs by pointing out that Washington accepts the nuclear status of Pakistan - which it needs on its side in the war on terror - while opposing Iran's program, which Iran insists is for power-generation only.
• Mr. Chávez, espousing a philosophy of "democratic socialism" in any international forum that will listen, accuses the United States of trying to overthrow his own democratically elected government. He fires up sympathetic crowds by branding "US imperialism [as] our real enemy."
Yet for all their heated rhetoric, the two leaders have a vision for the world, one that seeks to end the "sole superpower" reality. Beyond simply opposing America's robust exercise of power - a sentiment increasingly found in the developing world, especially - their aim is to join political forces to provide a significant counterweight in the international arena.
[Why can't that be Canada's aim as well? Why are other countries doing this? -- NSay]
[Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on February 14, 2006]