According to this panel of experts (i.e. dumbasses who told their unpaid interns to google the words "Iran" and "Venezuela"), "Chavez’s expanding ties with Iran and Hezbollah and other terrorist groups" represents a "growing threat" to U.S. national security. You see, these experts had "evidence" and they "cited" it. And by "cited" I mean they simply assured the audience of its existence.
Well, while we're on the topic of "evidence", General Douglas Fraser, the commander of the U.S. Southern Command, had this to say yesterday:
"We see a growing Iranian interest and engagement with Venezuela. ... It's a diplomatic, it's a commercial presence. I haven't seen evidence of a military presence."Whatever. The briefing's write-up gives you a good sense of the level of paranoia in that room last thursday. One fella by the name of Norman Bailey, commenting on Iranian industrial investments in Venezuela, stated:
“The tractor factory doesn’t make tractors, and the cement factory doesn’t make cement. The tractor factory makes weapons, and the cement factory is used for the export of cocaine.”This guy was also extremely concerned about non-stop, 24/7 flights between Tehran and Caracas, which apparently “are permanently full."(!) He also claimed that Iranian experts have installed mines in Venezuela's major ports and refineries in anticipation of a U.S. invasion.
And these were only some of the claims made during the briefing that made it into the Center for Security Policy's website. But fortunately, maladjusted just so happened to be on the scene and had the (dis)pleasure to witness the panel's other dumb claims:
- Iranian missionaries are converting entire indigenous tribes in Venezuela to Islam (oh the horror!).
- Iran's nuclear program=nukes in Venezuela.
- Islamic/Bolivarian-Communist drug traffickers could (will?) blow up the Panama canal.
Of course, Otto Reich considered this type of questioning "harassing" and threatened to have the reporters removed from the room after verbally attacking them. The other panelists were only marginally more gracious, some managing to mumble something about the Reyes laptops proving all their claims conclusively.
In any case, the point is that these people can't be reasoned with and their paranoid national security fantasies are dangerous. These people, no matter the claims to the contrary, have not shaken off the Cold War mentality. During the event Otto Reich warned, and I quote, of Venezuela's "military buildup financed by the Soviet Union--oops--I mean Russia."
I don't care what your opinion of Chávez is. You can hate him and think he's a populist-whatever for all I care. But influencing the foreign policy of the world's most powerful nation through fear mongering and imagined threats most certainly makes the world a worse place.
I seem to have written virtually the same post as Setty's Notebook, although far less seriously than he did. Boz seems to have also chosen to write about this in a more serious tone than yours truly. I commend both of you for having the restraint to write about this bullshit without resorting to mockery and insults as I did.