In This Review

The Threat Closer to Home: Hugo Chávez and the War Against America
The Threat Closer to Home: Hugo Chávez and the War Against America
By Douglas Schoen and Michael Rowan
Free Press, 2009, 240 pp

The recession must be taking its toll at the Free Press, for this limp stab at political sensationalism by two U.S. political consultants is emasculated by its unsubstantiated assertions and careless logic. Their book largely a cut-and-paste job, Schoen and Rowan fail to shock with any fresh revelations. Certainly, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is a shrewd and dangerous demagogue, and his recent successful campaign to win a referendum allowing him indefinite reelection has established a new benchmark for the unabashed mobilization of state resources to turn out the pro-government yes vote. But does the "real threat" to the United States come from Chávez's links to Iran and Russia, as the authors allege, or rather more from the alluring ideological alternative he poses to a market-driven globalization that is self-imploding before our very eyes and his underreported but pervasive influence within many Latin American countries? Furthermore, Schoen and Rowan's proposals for a new Alliance for Progress-cum-Marshall Plan are utterly passé, and hard-pressed U.S. consumers are unlikely to applaud their suggested self-inflicted cutoff of the flow of Venezuelan oil. The authors are correct, however, to criticize the Bush administration for its surprising passivity in the face of the Chávez threat, even if they fail to offer actionable advice to the new administration.