Monday, June 9, 2008

Chavez Knows His Game in Colombia Is Up

Chavez is a thug, but he's not a total moron. This is the reddest-handed he's been caught so far directly supplying FARC, the narco-guerillas who effectively hold part of what says "Colombia" on maps. Recall that there was a threat of war between Colombia and Venezuela more recently, before, because it was discovered that Venezuela was directly financing Colombia rebels - and that was announced by Interpol, not the U.S.

Why the antagonism against Colombia? Colombia has an American-friendly government, and Chavez has made his career by building an anti-American axis in Latin America, with Cuba, and to a lesser extent Bolivia and Ecuador, though you don't hear Evo Morales spewing foaming-at-the-mouth anti-US rhetoric like Sr. Super-Peligroso Chavez. Chavez may score points in some quarters with his one-liners but most of the time they fall flat, as in the time my personal favorite monarch King Juan Carlos of Spain told Chavez to shut up on live television last November.

In Venezuela Chavez has "liberated" his people from U.S. influence by doing things like, for instance, making it illegal to criticize him (ask his ex-wife) or publish embarassing statistics about his destruction of the economy. It also means being one of the few nations to support China's purges in Tibet that wasn't a direct Chinese satellite state. In any event, after this latest fiasco, Chavez knows he doesn't have a leg to stand on, and what's more knows it's clear he's behaving more imperially with other Latin Americans than the evil Americans. So at the drop of a hat he hangs FARC out to dry and backs off his de facto invasion of Colombia. If I were a Latin American who had admired Chavez for his stand against U.S. imperialism, I would start to wonder whether Chavez was driven by actual Bolivarian, pan-Latin idealism, or just cynical self-aggrandizement. After all, Japan had its "Asia for Asians" policy in the early 1940s, and we saw how well that worked out for China, Korea and the Philippines.

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