I have to say that I would find Anne Applebaum’s criticism of American celebrities who say nice things about Hugo Chavez to Communist supporters of the Soviet Union were contemporary Venezuela to, um, resemble the USSR in some salient way. Applebaum writes that “Venezuela is easier to idealize than Iran and North Korea, the former’s attitude toward women not being conducive to fashion models, the latter being downright hostile toward Hollywood.” Another way of phrasing this would be that it’s easier to adopt a non-indignant attitude toward the government of Venezuela because it is, in fact, a much better government than the ones they have in Iran and North Korea.
Similarly, surely the author of a book called Gulag is aware that the mass repression of the Gulag was a major aspect of the Soviet system and that it’s absent from Venezuela. Meanwhile, has Applebaum written any columns condemning businessmen or politicians who travel to the capitals of America’s friendly dictators in Cairo, Riyadh, Dubai, etc.? Shouldn’t a person interested in Americans who help prop up authoritarian governments be trying to come up with something to say about Pakistan ?