I'm a bit concerned: he's getting worse and he's getting dangerous. The clowning is taking many twists and turns that should have us starting to worry about where this is all leading. This letter and Chavez's genocide comments only add to that worry. There wasn't much condemnation of Chavez's very untrue and ridiculous comment but ironically GWB's comment re Islamic–Fascists gets immediate reports from offended Muslims condemning what is essentially true!Little surprise then that last week saw tit-for-tat envoys/ambassadors being recalled.
Back in May when Chavez came to London Red Ken said this: "For many years people have demanded that social progress and democracy go hand in hand, and that is exactly what is now taking place in Venezuela." And I have tended to agree with the way he is sowing the oil. However I stressed that his clowning on the international stage was tedious and unnecessary; now it is becoming more threatening.
First we had the 'mad' Mercosur Summit (from The Economist) where Bolivia was invited to join [Evo Morale's] voice would strengthen the stridently anti-American chorus led by Mr Chávez. Mercosur is becoming an anti-imperialist "political block", says Pedro da Motta Veiga, a trade consultant in Rio de Janeiro. It may now split between a pragmatic camp, led by Brazil, and Mr Chávez's ideological one.
While the world was focused on the tragic events taking place in Lebanon and northern Israel, something very disturbing happened in South America last week.
MERCOSUR: ¿Se Han Vuelto Locos? (Spanish version) So, have the Mercosur countries all gone bananas? Yes. So says Alvaro Vargas Llosa Special to washingtonpost.com (same, in English)Forget the fact that Chavez is offering to supply natural gas to the Southern Cone countries through a 5,000-mile pipeline. What are really driving these countries are an inferiority complex, ideological adultery and an economic misconception. Not only that but...
Adding insult to the injury, Mercosur invited Fidel Castro to the summit and signed a "trade" deal with him that was more political than commercial.
This summit performance was followed by Mr. C’s embarking on a two-week world tour: Chavez wants to become a world power broker as a member of the Security Council. The seat would also make him the voice of Latin America at the U.N., naturally the USA favours the Guatemalan bid; his world tour to gather allies for a geopolitical counterbalance to the U.S.
First however, he went to Russia to buy arms, a Weapons Deal Represents Kremlin's Assertiveness to Counter U.S. Influence says the Wall Street Journal. "The arms deal appears to be a move by Mr. Chávez to keep his military commanders fat and happy as he vies for regional leadership in Latin America. During his presidency, the Venezuelan navy and air force in particular have been starved for new equipment because Mr. Chávez doesn't trust the officers in those services."...'nuff' said!
"Moscow sees little prospect for a military or strategic alliance with Mr. Chávez, but the timing of his visit was meant to send a message to Washington,"...basically if the US can be best buddies with Georgia we can do the same with Chavez...it’s all a game. Also these arms deals don’t threaten the USA directly (militarily) but they will play some part - a negative influence? - in the balance of the region, "particularly since, as the State Department has observed, the weapons exceed Venezuela's defensive needs."
His visit also took him to Belarus where the EU have extended sanctions but where Hugo says:
"Belarus is a model of a social state, which we are also building,"
And he is perfectly happy to express his wishes for a pact against the US. "The number of countries in the world which resist the forces of dictatorship is growing," said Lukashenko, standing alongside him [Chavez] at the military academy"...'resist the forces of dictatorship'...oh the irony! The Washigton Times Editorial on July 28 (Chavez, Putin and Tehran) put it very well (hehehe):
"That Mr. Chavez made a new friend in Alexander Lukashenko means only that the isolated Belarussian dictator may now count his friends with two fingers instead of one."
More from that editorial later. All that said possibly the most worrying is the Iranian connection. Not that being there is bad in itself (no problem there, been a few times myself) or even trading/ increasing trade between the two countries... in his recent visit he was on about anti-imperialism (no change there then) but Chavez also said this:
"We will stand beside Iran in every time and occasion and under every circumstance,"
When Chavez and the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad met with the 'supreme leader' Ayatollah Khamenei the Ayatollah said "Today all the Arab and Muslim nations are supporting Hezbollah. Since it is resisting America and the Zionist regime, the leader of Hezbollah has become the people's favourite person all over the world," Remember here that recently Iranian troops were among the Hezbollah combat dead...in fact remember also that Iranian engineers were at the missile launch in North Korea. On the tour [Chavez] had "originally intended to visit North Korea as part of his global whistle-stop tour but Venezuela's National Assembly did not ratify a stop off in Pyongyang on this occasion. "I'm relieved he's not going to North Korea this time," a Venezuelan official said. "The timing would have been difficult given that North Korea is in the spotlight of the international community." Back to Iran...and as Iranmania.com tells us:
Referring to President Chavez stances on the world issues, Ayatollah Khamenei said they reminded the stances of Simon Bolivar, the Latin American Revolutionary figure. President Chavez, for his part, by expressing pleasure over his new visit to Iran, called Bolivarian revolution of Venezuela as a brother of the Islamic revolution in Iran. He emphasized the necessity of consolidation among countries with the same stance and opposed to the US policies and pointed out that such countries should expand their cooperation and increase their ability and potentials and never be frightened by the US threats.
Simon Bolivar?!! What an insult to that great man and all those South Americans whom he helped liberate. Back to that Washigton Times Editorial “Chavez, Putin and Tehran”
Mr. Chavez's relationship with Tehran... "is more threatening. The two regimes have previously discussed joint military exercises. Mr. Chavez has been vocal in his support of the Iranian nuclear program, and the two countries have reached several agreements, including one that would allow Iran access to known Venezuelan uranium deposits.""The majority of Mr. Chavez's antics are innocuous. For as much as the populist president lambastes America, his regional influence, as well as domestic power, ultimately derives from oil, and the United States is Venezuela's largest export market. Washington is right not to let him become the focus of policy in South America, but the worrisome nature of his dealings requires continued scrutiny."
This point about the US being the largest export market should be more worrying, perhaps it is but being played down. Recent developments, do however, point to the fact that Venezuela is rapidly and efficiently expanding its international relations and influence in the energy sector. If a pipeline heading west from Venezuela is constructed, could China become the new large consumer of Venezuelan oil? This last from the mining section of South Africa’s Business Day – with interesting news, towards the end of the article, of Chavez’s visit to Vietnam and Mali (one of the more understandable trades) – Oil for gold...more 'sowing the oil'...at least in a good way this time!