Venezuela’s inimitable Hugo Chavez has been having quite the busy summer. In between renewed crackdowns on the media, utterly totalitarian measures to usurp power from the democratically elected opposition, along with new evidence pointing to his support of FARC and narco-trafficking compliance, the Venezuelan president has also found time to denounce new conspiracy plots from the evil empire in Washington to invade Venezuela and topple his Bolivarian revolution.
The main evidence he cites is a new agreement between Colombia and the United States on a military base … which by the way does not mean there is an increase in U.S. personnel. Caracas Chronicles, one of the best blogs on Venezuela in English, has a very good post on the topic, pointing out something very similar we see in Russia – what my friend David Satter has described as the Kremlin’s need to constantly create external enemies, and portray itself as “the besieged fortress.” Once again it seems that Russia and Venezuela share so much more than high murder rates, oil, and a fondness for large arms transactions.
Nobody with a passing acquaintance of the Obama administration’s foreign policy, or the US’s budgetary constraints, military capabilities, political realities or strategic interests could take such an idea seriously. There’s so much that’s wrongheaded and bizarre about the claim, there’s very little point in even going through all the various reasons why it’s simply not believable.
We need to be perfectly up-front about that as we dissect Hugo Chávez’s claim that the recent US Military Agreement with Colombia (which does not open US military bases there and does not lead to a sharp spike in the presence of US military personnel there) is some kind of prelude to a US invasion of Venezuela.
Once we discard the pretext, I can think of two possible reasons why Chávez might react quite as strongly as he has to a stepped up US military presence in Colombia. It’s one of two things.