The following is a statement released on Wednesday by religious broadcaster Pat Robertson in the wake of his controversial statements made on Monday regarding Venzuelan president Hugo Chavez:
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va., August 24, 2005--I want to take this opportunity to clarify remarks made on the Monday, August 22nd edition of The 700 Club where I adlibbed a comment following a very brilliant analysis by Dale Hurd of the danger that the United States faces from the out-of-control dictator of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez. In this story, Col. Chavez repeatedly claimed that Americans were "trying to assassinate him."
In my frustration that the U.S. and the world community are ignoring this threat, I said the following:
Thanks, Dale. If you look back just a few years, there was a popular coup that overthrew him; and what did the United States State Department do about it? Virtually nothing; and as a result, within about 48 hours, that coup was broken, Chavez was back in power. But we had a chance to move in. He has destroyed the Venezuelan economy, and he's going to make that a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism all over the continent. I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war, and I don't think any oil shipments will stop. But this man is a terrific danger, and this is in our sphere of influence, so we can't let this happen. We have the Monroe Doctrine, and we have other doctrines that we have announced, and without question, this is a dangerous enemy to our south, controlling a huge pool of oil that could hurt us very badly. We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don't need another 200-billion-dollar war to get rid of one strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.
Is it right to call for assassination? No, and I apologize for that statement. I spoke in frustration that we should accommodate the man who thinks the U.S. is out to kill him.
Col. Chavez has found common cause with terrorists such as the noted assassin Carlos the Jackal, has visited Iran reportedly to gain access to nuclear technology, and has referred to Saddam Hussein and Fidel Castro as his comrades. Col. Chavez also intends to fund the violent overthrow of democratically elected governments throughout South America, beginning with neighboring Colombia.
As I report the news daily from around the world, I am acutely conscious of the fact that our nation is at war. Not only are there active wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but there is a war of terror being waged against civilized nations throughout the world.
We are in the midst of a war that is draining vast amounts of our treasure and is costing the blood of our armed forces. I am a person who believes in peace, but not peace at any price. However, I said before the war in Iraq began that the wisest course would be to wage war against Saddam Hussein, not the whole nation of Iraq. When faced with the threat of a comparable dictator in our own hemisphere, would it not be wiser to wage war against one person rather than finding ourselves down the road locked in a bitter struggle with a whole nation?
The brilliant Protestant theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who lived under the hellish conditions of Nazi Germany, is reported to have said:
"If I see a madman driving a car into a group of innocent bystanders, then I can't, as a Christian, simply wait for the catastrophe and then comfort the wounded and bury the dead. I must try to wrestle the steering wheel out of the hands of the driver."
On the strength of this reasoning, Bonhoeffer decided to lend his support to those in Germany who had joined together in an attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler. Bonnhoffer was imprisoned and killed by the Nazis, but his example deserves our respect and consideration today.
There are many who disagree with my comments, and I respect their opinions. There are others who think that stopping a dictator is the appropriate course of action. In any event, the incredible publicity surrounding my remarks has focused our government's attention on a growing problem which has been largely ignored.