Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Washington is taking on Hugo Chavez

It turns out that Washington is aware of Hugo Chavez, down in Venezuela, and is taking steps to contain him

According to the [april 26 NY Times] story, which clearly was intentionally leaked to The Times by the Bush administration, the United States has concluded that there is no way to improve relations with Chavez and that, in short, he must go. Washington is considering a program of destabilizing Venezuela, which could include financing institutions and political groups that oppose Chavez. Since this has been a basic model for dealing with regimes in Washington's crosshairs for several years, the report can be taken seriously. Moreover, it was timed to coincide with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's departure for a tour through Latin American states, where her agenda included discussions on Venezuela with other regional leaders. Any attempts to build a campaign against Chavez in Latin America likely will hit a wall, since doing so not only would involve giving governments in that region a reason to care about the Washington-Caracas rift, but reversing a growing trend of anti-American sentiment and leftist economic policies that have been taking root for several years already. Moreover, it is difficult to overlook the fact that Chavez — former coup plotter and radical revolutionary though he may be — was democratically elected by the Venezuelans. What is by far the most interesting aspect of this growing crisis is that it is occurring to begin with. The threat from Chavez, whatever it is, was always there. What has changed most perceptibly is the American view of the world. Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the United States has been obsessed with its confrontation with the jihadists. The Bush administration not only had no time for Venezuela before, but the last thing it wanted on its plate was another crisis when it was having trouble dealing with the Muslim world. Now, the Bush administration clearly feels it has that war under control and is now prepared to embark on other adventures. Just how much risk and how many resources the United States is prepared to put behind a push to oust Chavez is unclear. Some of this could be simply talk, intended to satisfy internal political constituencies in the administration. Nevertheless, that the Bush administration is prepared to confront Chavez now is a measure of its confidence concerning al-Qaida and the major war.
George Friedman, who authored the above quotation, seems to believe it may take a lot more than this "freeze" to affect Chavez, but I'm just happy the administration is doing something. Previous posts: Worries in Latin America More on the scary Hugo Chavez Is Venezuela's Chavez facing internal risks?