As Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez boarded the vessel, his beefy bodyguards tried to follow him up the gangplank. They were stopped by their equally beefy Russian counterparts. The Venezuelans, who presumably spoke no Russian, tried to push their way through. The Russians, who presumably spoke no Spanish, fought back.Why are they thuggish (a word she deployed twice)? From the description, it doesn't seem like either side did anything that the Secret Service wouldn't do. Is being the bodyguard of a president with authoritarian leanings a thuggish occupation in and of itself? By that logic, would a Secret Service agent go from being heroic (or at least admirable) under Kennedy to shady a few years later under Nixon, and then back to admirable for Ford and Reagan?
And yet -- the lingering image of those thuggish bodyguards, shouting at one another in mutual incomprehension, remains weirdly appropriate.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Anne Applebaum slips this passage into a column about Russia's forgettable imperial designs: