From Chamberlain to Kerry

Former Venezuela Presidential Chief of Staff Beatrice Rangel analyzes the similarities and differences between former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain.

Perhaps no one has been as misunderstood as Neville Chamberlain, the British Prime Minister whose tenure saw the rise of fascism in Germany and Europe.

His last name turned into an adjective to describe a person who trades with evil. He is much maligned as the author of the Munich Treaty which gave Nazi Germany the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia.

Chamberlain is depicted as the master of appeasement and derided as a cold feet warrior.

Very little however is said of his life after leaving 10 Downing Street. And for someone with a tainted reputation one would expect a life of seclusion and solitude. This was not the case. Mr. Chamberlain enjoyed the love of his constituents and the respect of his society until he departed toward new horizons as Snoopy would put it.

This mismatch between historians and the people of England can only be explained on two counts.

First, Mr. Chamberlain like a fine British gentleman of his age could not care less for the rest of the world. For him the only and sole locus of politics was home. Henceforth he aimed at concentrating in domestic reform. Paid vacations, coal nationalization, trade facilitation, subsidies to entice slum dwellers to maintain their home and rent control were far more important issues in his mind that whatever the Europeans were doing in mainland.

He further believed that internecine fighting was part and parcel of European history into which Britain had no cards to play. And his isolationist country men and women seemed to agree with him in a significant proportion hence, the respect for his policies.

This belief was, of course, shattered as soon as Hitler had the idea of dispatching the Luftwaffe to London every evening. By the time the Brits came to grips with the true nature of the Nazi regime, they were at war with it. And they won thanks to the time they had to prepare themselves and the U.S. alliance.

The Chamberlain dilemma was most recently confronted by U.S. Secretary of State Kerry who, faced with rising totalitarianism in the hemisphere, decided to set his eyes on other horizons. And he traveled incessantly to the Middle East, a region facing violent problems since the times of Nebuchadnezzar.

Needless to say that during his tenure both the Palestinians as well as the Israelites engaged in an atrocities contest that left his mediation efforts at the very least scathed and the very worst without any believers.

Meanwhile Europe was hit by radical Islamic terrorist acts while narcotrafficking and terrorism began to nestle in the Americas.

Savvy exploitation of the many power boosting nodes created by globalization, such as invisible means to transfer money, cheap launching gadgets for bombs and missiles, access to drug money and through that to arms, terrorists and organized crime, decided to settle in the region.

And because of Kerry’s obsession with getting a Nobel peace prize for brokering the hundred and tenth Middle East Peace Accord, the region was completely neglected during his tenure.

Would it not have been for Vice President Biden, who took upon his shoulders to set limits to the Venezuelan sponsored PetroCaribe, the Caribbean basin countries may not have even reinitiated cooperation with the U.S. in fighting organized crime.

In his distraction, Kerry failed to seen totalitarianism‘s true colors and thus thought that it was possible to reinstate democracy in Cuba and Venezuela through dialogue.

Both regimes saw in his belief a great opportunity to gain time and sat to talk.

And we now learn that while the whole U.S. diplomatic machinery was ready four years ago to start setting the limits to totalitarianism, Secretary Kerry withheld such judgment in favor of dialogue.

As the news about the treacherous humanitarian crisis raging in Venezuela floods our TVs, we think how many lives could have been spared would there not have been any dialogue.

And there is where the difference with Chamberlain comes clear. Chamberlain spared British lives by buying time to allow his country to prepare for war. Kerry bought time for totalitarian regimes to continue their destructive path.

Published by Latin American Herald Tribune on Monday February 20th, 2017

*The opinions published herein are the sole responsibility of its author.*