Opinion, by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Curmudgeon, notwithstanding his cantankerous moniker and his grumpy grousing about the world, still believes he is a good guy and that there should be other good guys out there. Unfortunately, the good guys have all gone missing in most of the headlines these days, both international and domestic.
We’ll deal with other countries first, to get a few things off our chest, and then turn to Brazil, which has recently abdicated any claim to “good guy” status.
The current horror in the Gaza Strip has proven one thing — neither Hamas nor the Israeli government cares a whit about human life. Hamas denies Israel’s right to exist, Israel denies Palestine’s right to exist. Both sides continue to slaughter each other, according to their respective abilities. In their views, there are no “innocent bystanders”; everyone on the other side is a bad guy. There are no good guys there.
Moving northward, Ukraine and Russia, both plutocracies rather than democracies, have squared off against each other in turf wars. Russia’s irredentist warlord Putin blatantly seeks to “reclaim” “lost” territory. Ukraine, albeit anxious to protect its own plutocrats, has seemingly offered little resistance. There are no good guys there, as evidenced by the downing of flight MH 17.
One set of bad guys downed a commercial airliner, almost surely by mistake. The plane crashed in territory held by Russian surrogates, who refuse to let anyone near the crash site to search for victims. Why have they refused? Because the Ukraine armed forces have tried to retake the territory where the plane fell, and have been bombarding sites nearby. The result is that almost as many civilians have been killed in eastern Ukraine as have been killed in Gaza. There are no good guys there.
The government of Brazil has publicly taken sides in both Gaza and Ukraine. It has refused to criticize Hamas. It has refused to criticize Putin. Why? One reason may be a determination to assume a position contrary to that of the United States, or perhaps to ally itself with the BRICS mirage.
Another may be economic—Russia and the Arab world are far bigger importers of Brazilian products than Ukraine and Israel. Yet another may be the upcoming elections—there are far more voters of Arab descent in Brazil than there are Jewish voters.
The Curmudgeon submits that Brazil, by its refusal to condemn bad guys, is no longer a good guy on the world scene. But even in Brazil the good guys have absconded.
Everyone knows that the governments of Venezuela and Argentina blatantly lie about the parlous state of their economies; moreover, both of them seek to punish anyone who points out the truth. Brazil had not descended into that sinkhole until recently.
However, when a Banco Santander report pointed out (correctly) that the stock market index varies inversely to Dilma’s re-election chances, Dilma and Lula unsheathed their long knives, loudly demanding that Santander fire the “offending” employee; Santander cravenly caved.
Had Dilma and Lula been good guys, they would have contested the report with history from 2002, when Lula was elected notwithstanding the same predictions of disaster: the economy didn’t worsen, it improved. But when you side with mendacious bad guys like Putin, Kirchner and Maduro, you risk being contaminated. There are no good guys here either. And that’s a shame.
Michael Royster, aka THE CURMUDGEON first saw Rio forty-plus years ago, fetched up on these shores exactly 36 years ago, still loves it, notwithstanding being a charter member of the most persecuted minority in (North) America today, the WASPs (google it!)(get over it!)