Wednesday, April 28, 2010

National security fantasies--Venezuela and Iran

Last week the idiots over at the Center for Security Policy, a Washington, DC-based think tank, sponsored a briefing in the U.S. Congress on the growing threat to U.S. national security posed by Latin America and Venezuela in particular. The event featured a well-rounded panel of paranoid delusional right-wing douche bags, including the one and only Otto "ignoramus" Reich and the illustrious Republican Rep. Ileana "bat shit crazy" Ros-Lehtinen, the ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

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.
Yes, yes. This would all be absolutely hilarious if it wasn't also dangerous. Believe it or not, people actually listen to these idiots! What's more, they react aggressively when confronted about their so-called evidence. Reporters from Telesur were at the event and asked the panel if there was enough evidence to justify their militaristic tone--noting that it all sounded very much like during the buildup to the invasion of Iraq, when the case for war rested on made up evidence about WMDs.

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.


  1. Just finished reading both your & Setty's pieces.
    Maybe I'll read Boz later.
    But I have to say: Much ado about nothing?

    Whenever the Israelis lose sleep over something, the spigot gets turned & Washington rains money.

    Right now, the nightmare is Iran.
    And why not?
    Instead of suffering from Zimbabwe levels of isolation & starvation, the IRGC's running Iraq & Lebanon (everything from advisors to garbage collection). They'll probably get "the bomb" (or stop a 1mm from the finish line).

    This fear spawns new fellowships.
    You & Setty are just citing wonks looking to earn their endowment money.


    Having said all that...

    Isn't it obvious that Venezuela & Iran have some sort of military cooperation?
    If so, I have to ask: What's wrong with that?

    Seriously, did we expect the FAN (who haven't operated in any theaters), to just pick up this "asymmetric warfare" fad on their own?

    Look around the world, and you'll find a poverty of experience on the issue.
    Reading theoretical leaflets & biographies of Vo Nguyen Giap can only take you so far.

    Fact is, the IRGC are the only standing force who've successfully implemented "asymmetric warfare" as a national security strategy. And if they were selling Quds Force field advisors as products, the 2006 Lebanon-Israel war would be their superbowl ad.

    I wouldn't be surprised if Chavez whipped out the credit card for that purchase.
    And if someone does come up with hard evidence, neither should any of you.

  2. Nicely done. Sometimes you just can't write about this stuff without dropping some vein-bulging f-bombs.