Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Arms purchases in Latin America

I am glad a Latin American president is talking about this. From the joint press conference with Uruguayan President Tabaré Vázquez and Secretary Clinton:

PRESIDENT VAZQUEZ: (Via interpreter) With respect to the arms race, not only is our country worried, but we have already expressed time and again our position against an arms race. We believe that it is quite inconvenient to the region to devote such significant economic resources toward purchasing arms. And – but it’s a fact, and we can’t deny it, that the countries are buying weapons.

And to make things worse, our region is the region that has the worst distribution of wealth. So with – under those conditions, it is still worse to be devoting those resources to weapons. South America has millions of people living in poverty, and there are thousands of children that die across Latin America and South America because of child diarrhea or diseases that could be prevented.

So because of all these reasons, all that should lead the governments of South America to decide to devote more money to promote health, to promote education and education to prevent diseases; to spend that money, instead of spending it in weapons, spending it in housing, good housing for our people, and to further deepen investment, especially in the field of education.

So we should devote our energies and resources to fight against the real scourges of our societies, that are drug – such as drug trafficking and terrorism. That would be certainly a much better use of our resources.


Defensores de Democracia 12:16 PM  

The Guy that is buying Weapons, War Airplanes and Ships by the billions of dollars is Hugo Chavez. Oil for Weapons

This Madman is squandering all the Oil Riches of Venezuela while the Population starves or is in extreme poverty.

Scarcity of Milk, Meat, Beans, Sugar, etc ... Everything that Venezuela should be producing.

Chavez constantly threatens Colombia with War .... Colombia, a poor nation in oil compared to Venezuela.

But who feeds Venezuela ??? ... Colombian Agricultural Products and Livestock, close the border between Colombia and Venezuela ( as Chavez constantly threatens ) and you have riots in Venezuela because of scarcity of food.

How many Marshall Plans ( that rebuilt Europe after World War II )
has Chavez squandered ??

The Curse and Shame of Latin America is the Military. Madmen from Military Barracks want to change History. But they lack brains, their education is not above that of a Sargeant or Corporal and you can't imagine the Brutality of those people in those Barracks.

No wonder that Chavez, Correa and Ortega have such lack education and civility and that they prosper in Vulgarity, Threats, Punching bags and bogeymen to gather internal support of ignorants and fools. Total Verbal Intemperance !!

Vicente Duque

leftside 12:40 PM  

I agree with Vasquez's sentiment. But Vicente (and the mainstream media) is dead wrong for placing the blame on Venezuela. Chavez's military spending is actually DOWN 13% from his predescesors. This at a time when the national budget has almost tripled. And nevermind that much of the arms were needed because the US banned the sale of parts for many of Venezuela's existing weapons. And nevermind that Chavez's purchase of Russian equipment has already paid mighty dividends. ($4 Billion credit given to the mineral industry and a $30 billion Russian oil investment announced over the weekend in Moscow). There is this thing called reciprocity in world affairs. And nevermind finally, the fact that Venezuela's neighbor Colombia has already showed its fangs by bombing a neighbor, saying they'd do it again, and then accepted the US military onto their military bases. A military who has basically declared Venezuela an enemy.

Anonymous,  1:29 PM  

it's true that Chavez is hardly alone in this arms race thing. Why would Brazil need a nuclear sub? But it's pretty silly to pretend that Colombia is threatening its neighbors. The attack on Ecuador was on a FACR base.

leftside 2:53 PM  

But it's pretty silly to pretend that Colombia is threatening its neighbors.

Well, the region obviously disagrees, believing Colombia's secret deal with Washington poses "a threat to regional stability." UNASUR tried to get Colombia to share some details about the US-base agreement - and was told no. They also tried to get some guarantees that the US military equipment would not be used outside Colombia - and were told no. So what does Colombia have to hide that it would rebuff a reasonable unified request from all South American countries??

And on the day of this UNASUR meeting, Hillary Clinton tries to divert attention against Colombia by blaming Venezuela for a new arms race in Latin America. If the US was serious about stopping arms sales, it would stop being the largest provider of military equipment in the world. The US is just mad it did not get in on the action. Brazil's decision to go with France rather than Boeing was particularly galling (Brazil's deal was larger than all Chavez's Russian arms purchases combined).

Anonymous,  3:07 PM  

Who cares if the region disagrees? I am making an analytical argument, not a political one.

Defensores de Democracia 5:15 PM  

The Curse and Shame of Latin America is the Military.

This is Past, Present and Future.

Study the History of Latin America and you will see the Brutality, Sadism and Imbecility of Military Juntas and Military Regimes.

No Wonder that the Region is so backward Economically and Politically.

The Worst elements of Society as despots. In Latin America if someone failed in School to be a Doctor, Lawyer or Engineer, then he was still good enough for Military Camp.

Read the "Autumn of the Patriarch" of Garcia Marquez or the books of Mario Vargas Llosa ( about the Military )

My Prediction :

This is going to get worse. The madmen are going to get more alliances with Rogue Nations ( or Scoundrel Nations ). Nuclear Power, Nuclear Reactors, Enrichment of Uranium, Plutonium or whatever thing ....

More threats to security everywhere.

The Panama Canal is so close to the Intemperate Voices of Constant Threats of Aggression.

The Nations that have Oil are also under a Big Curse .... No Wonder that Iran and Saudi Arabia are so backward in every sense.

Add Venezuela to the list of Cursed by Imbecility.

Vicente Duque

leftside 7:11 PM  

Who cares if the region disagrees? I am making an analytical argument, not a political one.

You made an argument that Colombia and the US are not a threat to their neighbors. Well aren't their neighbors in a better position to judge this than you and me? I am sure Iranians of all stripes do not believe their country is a threat to the United States. But the US sees things differently - rightly or wrongly. You can not divorce politics from international relations.

But on your objective point, imagining some conflict between Colombia and Venezuela does not require a whole lot of imagination - considering the wreckless accusations Colombia and the US have been making against Venezuela (harboring and aiding terrorists). After all, didn't the US declare that this is justifiable reason to launch a war? Obama has not denoucned this justification and in fact is using it to expand the war in Afghanistan. Furthermore, Obama has not closed down the CIA desk devoted to Venezuela. This is an aggressive act on its own. And then Colombia and the US sign an agreement broadening military cooperation to include counter-terrorism and do not let anyone in on the details. Nor will they committ to keeping the US hardware and personnel in Colombia.

Justin Delacour 7:22 PM  

If you're really so concerned about an arms race, Greg, perhaps you should post something about how the establishment of several U.S. military bases in Colombia will only exacerbate the problem. Incidentally, President Vazquez doesn't like the U.S.-Colombia base plan either.

Anonymous,  8:03 PM  

Justin, once again you are factually in error. The bases in question belong to Colombia. There are not now, nor will there be in the future, US bases in Colombia according to the agreement. The number of US military in Colombia stays the same. The moving of the Ecuador group to Colombia is for anti-drug efforts. Hence this is a kind of rotation rather than an escalation of US military presence. If you count the loss of presence in Ecuador it represents a potential decrease in US presence in South America. Really bad analysis.

Justin Delacour 10:30 PM  

The number of US military in Colombia stays the same.

If you believe that, I've got a bridge to sell you.

The only thing U.S. officials are claiming is that the number of troops and civilian contractors won't surpass the cap of 1,400. However, the cap is more than double the number of U.S. troops and civilian contractors that are in Colombia right now. (The Washington Post has reported that, as of June 19, there were 268 U.S. military personnel and 308 U.S. citizen contractors present in Colombia).

So I would suggest that you try doing your homework.

Anonymous,  11:48 PM  

Perfect, just the answer I expected.

I left that there to show everyone how you operate. Rather than answer my simple factual charge on the US vs. Colombian base, you avoid the simple act of reformulation. I know perfectly well about the cap but I phrased it that way so everyone could see just how your blind ideology and nasty partisanship leaves the truth as wreckage. Any reasonable person would admit that the bases are to be under Colombian sovereignty just as I am doing in saying the cap is the correct formula for understanding the US presence.

Before you go on to say that the bases are de facto US bases, please consider that when asked to leave Ecuador, the US did.

leftside 4:00 AM  

The sad fact is that no one knows exactly know what authorities the US military does or does not have at these (technically Colombian) bases.

mike a,  10:50 AM  

Some of the comments here are from people as delusional as Chavez himself. Both the US and Colombian governments have clearly stated that the American troops will be there to help defeat the FARC and to continue to fight the war on drugs. As long as Colombian neighbors steer clear of those two areas of focus, they have nothing to worry about. I suspect the whining is because both the Ecuadorian and Venezuelan governments are involved in each discreetly.

As for the other leaders who have complained, it plays well to their populations, plain and simple. Does anyone really think Brazil or Chile sees 1500 American troops in Colombia as a threat to their security?

Nell 11:22 AM  

Technically, the bases in Colombia at which the U.S. troops will be long-term guests will not be U.S. bases. Neither was Manta in Ecuador.

But there is no measure by which the move from that one airbase to seven bases in Colombia -- three air, two naval, and two army -- is not an expansion.

The unwillingness of the U.S. government to provide much information or assurances about troop numbers and roles, particularly of aircraft, does nothing to reduce regional anxieties about U.S. military intervention.

The reactivation of Fourth Fleet patrols in the last year (for the first time in more than 50 years) adds to the rational basis for concern.

So, yes: militarization Bad, spending on social needs Good. But U.S. government actions and policies are a contributing factor to regional militarization.

Anonymous,  11:30 AM  

Actually no Nell. That would only be true if Colombia's neighbors had a reasonable worry that the bases posed a threat to them. Of course they don't. They may pose a threat to narcoterrorists and their supporters though.

Nell 12:12 PM  

This graphic shows the relative scale and intensity of defense spending in 2007 and 2008 among Latin American governments. Once data for 2009 is available, an updated version would be illuminating.

@Anon: 1 - The Manta base was, supposedly, dedicated to counternarcotics flights over the eastern Pacific. All three of the air bases that will host U.S. planes have the Andes between them and the eastern Pacific. So either that mission is being cut back, or it was never the sole mission of Manta-based planes. In any case it is beyond dispute that U.S. aircraft at the three Colombian bases are there for a different purpose.

2 - The U.S. Defense Department has an explicit strategy of developing forward operating locations -- places with U.S. basing arrangements but without the overhead of full U.S. bases -- all over the globe. They are referred to and conceived of as "lily pads": jumping-off spots for intervention in their region. The Colombian bases fit the profile of such "lily pads".

So every government whose capital is within the flight range of the Colombian bases has a reason to seek assurances about what aircraft will be deployed, what roles they will play within and outside Colombia, and what guarantees the rest of the region will have that stated limitations will be respected.

Anonymous,  12:54 PM  


That's conspiratorial nonsense. If the US decided they wanted to invade Venezuela they could do so in a heartbeat, and none of the russia weapons would stop that for more than 5 minutes.

The reality is that the US has no interest in invading anyone in South America and they have shown that if they are asked, they will leave. So to argue that the reason there is an arms race is because of the US is silly.

Justin Delacour 12:57 PM  

Actually no Nell. That would only be true if Colombia's neighbors had a reasonable worry that the bases posed a threat to them. Of course they don't.

Notice that there isn't any logic to anonymous' argument. His argument goes something like this. If big bad Hugo buys big bad Putin's weapons, he's fueling regional anxiety because God only knows what he could do with those weapons. If, on the other hand, the U.S. sets up a bunch of base-sharing arrangements in a Latin American country that is openly hostile to its neighbors, this should generate no regional anxieties whatsoever because the U.S. never has anything but the most benevolent of intentions.

I hate to break this to you, anonymous, but that's not how the real world works. In the real world, any sort of move that augments any party's military capabilities will generate security concerns among its neighboring rivals.

As for the cap on U.S. personnel in Colombia, it's important to note that the "cap" provides no sort of security guarantees to its neighbors because the cap is not negotiated multilaterally. The cap was established by the U.S. Congress, which means that the cap can be increased at the discretion of Congress, regardless of whether other countries in the region like it or not.

Justin Delacour 2:08 PM  

So to argue that the reason there is an arms race is because of the US is silly.

Nobody has said that the U.S. is the sole source of tensions in Latin America. That's certainly not my view. What I'm saying is that the U.S.-Colombia base-sharing plan exacerbates tensions in the region. If that weren't the case, we wouldn't be hearing statements like this one from Brazil's foreign minister:

"Colombia may not yet totally have understood the degree of discomfort it has caused in other countries. Maybe that’s why it hasn’t yet agreed to the necessary guarantees as strongly as we would like."

leftside 4:54 PM  

The more I think about Hillary's hypocritical statements on the "arms race" in Latin America the madder I get. It is like the largest drug cartel leader in Colombia demoaning the increased use of drugs in Venezuela or something. I mean, come on. The US sells more arms and perpetuates more arms races than anyone else in the world. It is, of course, political - a jab at Venezuela will always be taken. But it is also a bit of sour grapes I believe. The fact that these purchases are not being made from US corporations.

Relatedly, Bolivia was turned down trying to buy surveillance aircraft (to spot drug production) from the US recently. Then when they went to buy a comparable aircraft from the Czech Republic, the US vetoed that deal as well (the result of some bilateral US-Czech agreement). And then the US has the nerve to say Bolivia is "failing demonstrably" in the drug war. This despite, the most obvious of facts to the contrary. When the DEA was working in Bolivia pre-Evo in 2004 and 2005, the total cocaine confiscated was 8.7 and 11.5 metric tons. In 2007 the figure was 18.7 and in 2008 it shot up to 28.9. Already this year, they've nabbed more coke than any year the DEA was involved and Bolivia was certified as doing a great job. What a joke.

Justin Delacour 7:58 PM  

I completely agree with Leftside on this one. The U.S. can't set up military bases all around the world and devote more to military spending than the next fourteen biggest military spenders combined and then point to Venezuela as the source of arms races. The argument is plainly absurd.

If Greg and company are really concerned about arms races, they ought to consider shining a mirror on their own country's practices.

Anonymous,  11:13 AM  

No, your argument is silly. The US military acts as a giant global insurance company funded by US taxpayers. To be a credible country in that role, its military must be many, many times larger than others. The wealthiest countries in the world, who have the most to lose from ambitious tyrants, insist on international order. They would not feel safer should the US pullback from the Middle East, East Asia, the Horn of Africa and Europe. At the end of the day Kuwait and Saudi Arabia depend on the US to protect them from Iran (as the US did from Iraq in 1990). The South Koreans, Taiwan and Japan from China and the North Koreans. The idea that the US military strength is causing an arms race because of its size is belied by the arguments presented here on this page. No country has been a military rival to the US in Latin America since 1898. Cuba's dependence on the USSR included. In the nineteenth century the rival was the UK. The idea that we threaten countries by having cooperative anti-drug and anti-terrorist agreements (a so-called rival or realist interpretation) assumes a rough equivalence in force strength and some demonstrated interest in the US using it in Latin America. The latter only is debatable. UNASUR can talk but not much else. They are not united. They don't have the military capacity nor political cooperation necessary to stand up to the US. The leaders of Latin America understand, even if many won't say so publicly, that the threat of an arms race is largely among Latin American countries themselves. If conflict breaks out, the victimized country will, as in almost all the other regions of the world, probably depend on the US-led international system to bail them out. The destabilizing element in Latin America is not Colombia's agreement with the US.

Justin Delacour 3:14 PM  

No country has been a military rival to the US in Latin America since 1898.

So your argument is that, unless other countries were to reach a level of military parity with the United States, U.S. military spending could not be said to create security concerns for other countries? That doesn't even make sense.

In fact, one reason that we see some increased military spending in the developing world is that a number of developing countries are seeking to counter-balance against American power.

Anonymous,  3:41 PM  

No Justin, you don't make any sense. Other than some rogue states (Iran, for example) developing countries don't pretend they arm themselves against the US. In fact, in many parts of the world, developing countries want the US military presence, for the reasons outlined above.

The Latin American arms race has nothing to do with the US and everything to do with Latin American politics.

Justin Delacour 4:15 PM  

No Justin, you don't make any sense. Other than some rogue states (Iran, for example) developing countries don't pretend they arm themselves against the US.

We're not just talking about Iran. Russia has an explicit policy of counter-balancing against the United States. So does Venezuela.

And by the way, counter-balancing doesn't necessarily imply an open rivalry. Countries will naturally think twice about officially declaring themselves to be counter-balancers, but there is evidence to suggest that countries like Brazil and China are also subtly counter-balancing against American power.

Unipolarity is unsustainable because it creates too many economic and security risks for lesser powers. That's why we will continue to see the gradual development of counter-balancing alliances.

Anonymous,  4:24 PM  

China at least has some claim to being a superpower in the long-term. Russia is simply a third-world nation with nukes that can't accept its not a major power anymore.

Venezuela is neither and has no reason to fear a US military intervention and, in any case, the weapons it has been buying are useless against the US, which could destroy them in 10 minutes. None of the weapons any of these countries have bought would make so much as a dent on the US.

The reasons for Latin America's arms race lie in Latin America. No need to blame anyone else.

Defensores de Democracia 4:42 PM  

It is the Greatest Absurdity to say that Colombia poses a threat against its neighbors. Nothing in the History of Colombia reveals any aggressivity against Neighbors.

The Killing of Super Terrorist Number One ( For Western Hemisphere ), Super Criminal and Murderer Raul Reyes marks an important date in this controversy. The killing of someone that had no qualms to murder Children, Women and the Old.

And for many years before that date three Monsters Chavez, Correa and Ortega were constantly agitating public aggression against Colombia.

I am talking about Microphone and TV Aggression. They were constantly harassing and threatenings the Colombian Government.

And lending support to the FARC Terrrorists in the form of Weapons, Sanctuary, Terrorist Training Camps, Diplomatic Support, etc ....

Only a blind and deaf man can deny these many outbursts of hatred before the TV Cameras. And their henchmen and minions were even worse.

The Proofs are trillions, only there are people that don't want to see them. Uribe complained many times of how Ecuador gave sanctuary to Reyes and his training camps before killing the bastard.

The American State Department is not famous for being a school of fools. They may have even better brains than the CIA or the U. S. Army. They know how to analyze events and crisis.

They know in microscopic detail this story of Aggressions, Hypocrisis and Lies of those Madmen, Monsters and Ignorants, whose only studies and intellectuality comes from the most Brutal and Despicable Military Barracks.

They know that in Colombia the press constantly attacks the Government since 1957. To levels that are unimaginable elsewhere in the Andean Countries, and probably in Latin America.

The State Department also knows that Elections in Colombia are more pure and tranquil that elsewhere in those countries. In fact Uribe had no campaign in year 2006 and was elected by a Big Landslide with little efforts, advertising or spending ( if any ).

I am not applauding Uribe or asking for a third term ( which I don't approve ).

I am just asking for respect for Truth, and abandoning so many lies about the Wonders of Chavez, Correa and Ortega.

These guys are extremely despicable and whoever thinks that they are "Democratic" doesn't know the facts.

And whoever thinks that they are a little tiny nuissance to the USA is very naive and innocent.

Vicente Duque

Justin Delacour 4:56 PM  

Venezuela is neither and has no reason to fear a US military intervention and, in any case, the weapons it has been buying are useless against the US, which could destroy them in 10 minutes.

But we're not just talking about the prospect of direct U.S. military intervention. Colombia's military buildup --which vastly exceeds Venezuela's-- creates certain security risks for Venezuela. Some of Venezuela's purchases are oriented toward that risk, which obviously cannot be separated from the United States' grand strategy because the United States has immense influence over Colombian policy.

Moreover, your statements are far too sweeping. Yes, the United States could wipe out most of Venezuela's conventional capabilities, but countries like Venezuela and Cuba don't train for conventional warfare against the United States. They train to wage asymmetric warfare (i.e. guerrilla warfare) against an occupying force.

Asymmetric warfare could create real problems for the United States, as we've seen in the Middle East. The whole purpose of developing these sorts of capabilities is to dissuade the United States from directly intervening in the region.

So, yes, the United States could destroy Venezuela's Air Force, but its stockpiles of Kalashnikovs are a different story altogether.

Anonymous,  5:01 PM  

But the rifles are not the issue in terms of money. The tanks and the planes are. They are useless against the US.

And no, it's completely ridiculous to claim that Colombia is a security threat to Venezuela. It's exactly the opposite. Venezuela is the security threat by supporting the FARC guerrillas. Where do you think all those rifles are going to?

leftside 7:43 PM  

"Venezuela is a country with huge amounts of oil and natural gas, and Chavez was the victim of a coup, so it's normal that he is getting prepared," (Lula da) Silva said in an interview with Brazil's Radio Guaiba.

Anonymous,  9:41 PM  

Colombia, for many complex historical reasons, faces an existential threat. The idea that the money Colombia spends to fight FARC and narcos creates a threat to Venezuela is just wrong. The ideological (and material) support given to the various rebel groups by neighboring countries over the years justifies the spending much more than the reverse. Venezuela, if it indeed still faces the threat of a coup, is hardly protected by arms spending on expensive planes, tanks and ships. Guerilla warfare? WTF?

Those that argue Colombia threatens Venezuela are still arguing that the principal threat is among Latin Americans. The US, yet still more so under Obama, has no taste for an invasion (and occupation) of a South American country. Except for the gunboat diplomacy of Panama 100 years ago, there is no US record of occupying a South American country even by imperialists such as T. Roosevelt.

Anonymous,  9:50 PM  

Leftside, the Lula quote is as much for domestic consumption as a frank appraisal of international arms spending. These statements express solidarity (understanding) with the international left w/o any cost. Brazil, due to its size, has nothing to fear from Venezuela. The government says these things and deflects criticism from Lula's leftist critics who complain of his government's capitalist economic orientation.

Anonymous,  10:12 PM  

Costa Rica has no military and is a sovereign country that maintains friendly working relations with the US. The situation works perfectly well for Costa Ricans because the country doesn't enter entangling alliances that would threaten its sovereignty. The US respects the international position that Costa Ricans have chosen even when it objects to US policies in world affairs (or the hemisphere).

Defensores de Democracia 12:15 PM  

Colombia is a Big Horrible Threat against Venezuela - Soon to invade Venezuela in a Blietzkrieg

Yes, and also it is true that Poland was a Horrible, Big, Humongous threat to Germany in 1933, the poor Nazi Germans.

Some Bad Germans from the Junker Nobility convinced the Old and very ailing Marshall Paul von Hindenburg that it was necessary to appoint Hitler as chancellor of the Reich because Poland ( with warrior horses and lots of poverty ) was a threat against the Powerful German Panzers, Messerchnitts, Luftwaffe, etc ...

That decision to appoint Hitler was devastating for the three million of Polish Jews.

You see the power of lies .....

Recently Pat Buchanam ( that was a Republican Presidential Candidate and also a bureaucrat ) has been defending the Junker Fallacy that Poland was a threat for Germany and that Hitler had to inveade Poland ( Panzers against old underfed horses ).

Pat is very racist and antiSemitic as the Anti Defamation League of the Jews has repeatedly expressed in documents.

So six millions Jews died in Europe because of lies and there are also lies today, not only Pat.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's statement that the Holocaust was "a myth" is "totally unacceptable", the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement ( of course, Russia doesn't want anything with the stench of Hitler and Nazis )

So it is very sad what happened to poor Poland invaded by the powerful Wehrmach and the PanzerDivisionen and fighting with all underfed horses and swords against the armored vehicles.

The aging General Erich Ludendorff was for a time a strong supporter of the early rise of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. After learning of Hitler's appointment as Chancellor, he expressed his disappointment to German President Paul von Hindenburg: "By appointing Hitler Chancellor of the Reich, you have handed over our sacred German Fatherland to one of the greatest demagogues of all time. I prophesy to you this evil man will plunge our Reich into the abyss and will inflict immeasurable woe on our nation. Future generations will curse you in your grave for this action."

I am also amazed at the Lies in some forums about Colombia mobilizing big armies against Venezuela and Ecuador.

It is exactly the opposite. The Despicable Military Barrack Ignorant Dictatorss of these two countries have mobilized armies to the borders with Colombia and have issued tons of TV threats.

And I have seen the Venezuelan Mothers weeping in anguish for their soldier sons.

An ignorant Venezuelan Woman knows more than an arrogant naricissistic military dictator. They know how their sons will perish in the Colombian Harsh Selvatic Mountanious Territory.

Look to the TV and Radio stations that have been closed by these two military tyrants : Chavez and Correa.

A total barrage of lies. .... I am astonished that someone inside the United Stats of America may believe such garbage.

Vicente Duque

Anonymous,  12:01 PM  

The US respects the international position that Costa Ricans have chosen even when it objects to US policies in world affairs (or the hemisphere).

Apparently you never heard of Ronald Reagan. Reagan pressured Costa Rica to side with it against the Sandinistas and had a compliant hand with President Monge, but the public wanted change and voted in Oscar Arias who resisted this pressure and actually brought peace to Central America.

Anonymous,  7:17 PM  

Yes I remember very well how happy I was that Arias challenged Reagan and led a peace process. Nevertheless, the US financially supported Costa Rica even though the government had shifted its diplomatic orientation. The main point is that while there are difficulties in going against strong US pressures it can be done. There are many such examples.

Anonymous,  8:46 PM  

No, Reagan threatened to withhold aid, but caved when Arias wouldn't. In addition, Reagan had zero credibility in Central America, especially after Iran Contra.

Anonymous,  10:01 PM  

Reagan was under the gun with Iran Contra and then after 1986 the Republicans lost the Senate (D55-R45). To say he threatened to withhold aid and then caved assumes he alone was making decisions on foreign aid. Irrespective, the main point remains true. Despite different foreign policy orientations, the US govt. did continue to aid Costa Rica during the Arias presidency.

Justin Delacour 10:46 PM  

In addition, Reagan had zero credibility in Central America, especially after Iran Contra.

What in the hell are you talking about?

Reagan's threats against Central America were very credible to millions of Central Americans because Reagan backed up his threats with violence. The Reagan Administration wielded massive power over Central America by dent of the fact that the Administration expended massive resources on the fight against the Sandinistas and the FMLN.

It is precisely because of this sort of history that a number of Latin American states will understandably prepare themselves for the worst vis-a-vis the United States. The Latin American left understands all too well that the United States is chock full of ultra-rightist looneys who would just assume bomb Venezuela into smithereens if they thought it would serve their purposes. The fact that the party of the looneys has occupied the American presidency for 20 of the past 30 years does nothing to reassure the Latin American left. U.S. preoccupations with the Middle East have probably spared Latin America a lot of grief over the past decade, but Latin America has no guarantees that the next 10 years will be as tranquil as the past 10.

Until the United States' unilateral militarism ceases to be a threat to the developing world, you can't expect the targets of U.S. hostility to just get on their hands and knees and pray.

Anonymous,  11:09 PM  

Credibility on the subject of a peaceful settlement in the region. Reagan had none.

Deep breaths into a brown paper bag should help. Perhaps a more thoughtful reading in the future would help.

Justin Delacour 11:38 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Justin Delacour 12:13 AM  

With regard to the other anonymous, your point seems to be that, if a country stays within the bounds of acceptable (i.e milquetoast) defiance like Costa Rica, the United States might let it be. First off, the point is questionable. In keeping with one of the anonymous' points, there's actually a book --called Hostile Acts-- that documents how Costa Rica was treated quite poorly by the Reagan Administration.

But more importantly, your point provides nothing in the way of security guarantees to a country like Venezuela because Venezuela is not Costa Rica. Venezuela offers full-throated opposition to U.S. unipolarity. It's not interested in staying within the bounds of milquetoast defiance, so it's naturally going to prepare for the worst vis-a-vis the United States.

Anonymous,  12:25 AM  

Lula permits Embraer to sell 25 Tucanes military jets to Colombia. The planes are effective for fighting low grade battles against the FARC. The FARC is tapping Venezuela's Middle East allies (Hezbollah and Syria) through its intelligence agency to acquire surface to air missiles and shoot down the planes (as well as the Blackhawk helicopters from the US). Yet only the US gets blamed for the military escalation in Latin America. As Reagan used to say about the Soviets, the problem isn't the nuclear weapons, its that we don't trust each other. Latin Americans are doing a fine job of creating any arms race that may exist.

Anonymous,  12:38 AM  

Well, Justin, if you think Venezuela and its allies will challenge US "unipolarity," you are quite wrong. "Throatiness" is what Colbert would call Chavez's method. Instead Chavez will bankrupt the country first. Every populist digs his own grave with unachievable rhetoric and ridiculous spending.

Justin Delacour 2:03 AM  

Well, Justin, if you think Venezuela and its allies will challenge US "unipolarity," you are quite wrong. "Throatiness" is what Colbert would call Chavez's method. Instead Chavez will bankrupt the country first. Every populist digs his own grave with unachievable rhetoric and ridiculous spending.

Oh, but you underestimate the powers of populism. Chavismo is likely to be around for a long long time because it has a huge and militant class base. And you're forgetting something else. This is the era of peak oil. Since we've depleted half the world's oil supply, the days of $11 a barrel are likely to be over until such time as the world moves away from its dependence on fossil fuels. It will take a long time to end our dependence on oil, so it isn't likely that Venezuela is going to fall apart any time soon.

Now, granted, Venezuela alone cannot counter-balance against American power, but a growing alliance that includes Russia, China, Brazil, Iran, and Venezuela IS gradually altering the distribution of power in the world.

Like I said, unipolarity is not sustainable. It's better that folks come to reconcile themselves with the basic fact that the "unipolar moment" is just that: a moment.

Anonymous,  7:05 AM  

OK, at least now we are not talking about the non-existent Latin American unity challenging US hegemony. I would bet that the capitalist response to "peak oil" will make this a shorter moment than so-called "unipolarity." The US has many strong allies around the world who have a vested interest in the success of the post WWII system. A much greater stake than they have in seeing the US fail. As for the Brazilians, they are prospering under the US-led international system. Their success doesn't have anything to do with Iran, Russia and Venezuela. Only similarity is they are commodity producers. The Brazilians are not joining any anti-US coalition, they are pursuing their national interests. Russia, Iran and Venezuela are political and social systems that are, in varying degrees, rotten at the core. Anti-Americanism nor a base class isn't going to sustain the system without violent repression. You are conflating short-term economic phenomena with forming powerful international alliances that remake the world. The only international alliance system that has such transformative power is still led by the US. Even if our role declines, something I view as normal, the liberal system will still be run on the same principles. Rogue states (Iran) will not have much influence. Russia and Venezuela, less extreme certainly but not responsible states, will be marginalized. Brazil and China will step up to the plate and exercise regional leadership within the context of the international system.

Name just one country in history that has used a populist base class to create an enduring threat to the international system? Please don't say the USSR!

Justin Delacour 12:52 PM  

The US has many strong allies around the world who have a vested interest in the success of the post WWII system.

Sure, but those powers --Western Europe, Japan, etc.-- are in relative decline, just as the United States is. Due partly to the contradictions of capitalism itself, the old powers are in decline. Western capital is so easily lured by cheap labor that it is now tripping over itself to industrialize China, which is far from a "liberal" political system. At the end of the day, the old addage that "the capitalist will sell you the rope to hang him with" may not be so far from the mark.

I agree with you that some form of market economic relations will persist into the future, but the American variety of capitalism is clearly in peril.

(And by the way, a whole hell of a lot of people --including many Americans and Western Europeans-- think the U.S. political and social system has grown pretty rotten itself).

Name just one country in history that has used a populist base class to create an enduring threat to the international system?

But that's not even the argument. The point was about why Chavismo is likely to be around for a long time. Chavismo's class base constitutes only one tiny part of the broader counter-balancing alliance that IS under development.

Defensores de Democracia 1:03 PM  

The last post of "Anonymous" was excellent. He said :

"Even if our role declines, something I view as normal, the liberal system will still be run on the same principles. Rogue states (Iran) will not have much influence. Russia and Venezuela, less extreme certainly but not responsible states, will be marginalized. Brazil and China will step up to the plate and exercise regional leadership within the context of the international system."

I agree with everything in this last post.

I add that I don't believe in Santa Claus Economies and Free Lunch Economies.

Think of those sad economies where oil is a blessing ( or a curse ) and they buy the lowest classes with gifts, populism and demagogy.

They also add external enemies as bogeymen and strawmen to beat up and to escalate the verbal intemperance. This gains support for the oil dictators.

They begin to be smart and shrewd intervening in other countries, neighbors with less resources and less riches. They fuel guerrillas and terrorism, they back murder, kidnapping, etc ...

I can not believe that those countries are going to be enduring powers, or respected powers.

Leaders in Europe, the U. S. ... Asia and Africa, may get some gifts from these oil dictators, but they despise the tyrants and imprudent supporters of terrorism.

This is not new ! .... remember Muammar al-Gaddafi ( despot of Libya and stiil a dictator ! )

Vicente Duque

Justin Delacour 2:12 PM  

I add that I don't believe in Santa Claus Economies and Free Lunch Economies.

Oh, but under modern capitalist systems, there are many many people who get "free lunches." The dominant classes of Western societies are afforded all kinds of "free lunches" on account of the privilege into which they are born.

What you really mean is that you don't think the poor should get "free lunches" from the state.

Be more specific.

Defensores de Democracia 3:02 PM  

Real Clear World
September 21, 2009

The Chavez-Iran Alliance: A Menace to the Western Hemisphere

By Jaime Daremblum

Jaime Daremblum, who served as Costa Rica's ambassador to the United States from 1998 to 2004, is director of the Center for Latin American Studies at the Hudson Institute.

Some excerpts :

It is no exaggeration to say that Venezuela's burgeoning alliance with Iran represents the greatest threat to hemispheric stability since the Cold War. Both governments have supported international terrorist groups operating in South America (including Hezbollah). Both have embraced other terror-sponsoring regimes (such as Syria). Both have initiated an arms buildup. Both have pursued close military cooperation with Russia. Both share a visceral anti-Americanism and are committed to undermining U.S. interests throughout the Western Hemisphere. And, perhaps most ominous, as announced earlier this month by both governments, Venezuela and Iran are now collaborating on the development of nuclear technology.

Their relationship has grown steadily over the past several years, thanks to the aggressive outreach of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez. Yet for whatever reason, U.S. opinion leaders - politicians, journalists, and others - have tended to ignore or downplay it. In a recent speech to the Brookings Institution, longtime New York District Attorney Robert Morgenthau sought to change that. Morgenthau outlined the full extent of the Venezuela-Iran partnership, which has included everything from financial and economic collaboration to energy and military coordination.

Meanwhile, Iran continues to operate suspicious factories in rural, sparsely populated areas of Venezuela. As Morgenthau observed, it has been estimated that Venezuela could have 50,000 tons of uranium reserves. According to the Associated Press, a recent Israeli foreign ministry report suggested that Venezuela and Bolivia (which is led by Chávez crony Evo Morales) are now providing Iran with uranium. There is good reason to be worried that Iran is using its murky manufacturing presence in relatively inaccessible parts of Venezuela to advance its nuclear-weapons aims. The mere prospect that the Iranians could be conducting illicit nuclear activities in Latin America is highly alarming.

At this point, there should no longer be any doubt that the Chávez regime is willing to aid terrorist organizations. Evidence of its support for the drug-trafficking FARC terrorists in Colombia keeps piling up. A recent U.S. Government Accountability Office report confirmed that the amount of cocaine transiting through Venezuela has increased "significantly," thanks partly to Venezuelan support for the FARC. This past July, Colombian military forces raided a FARC camp and discovered anti-tank rocket launchers that were originally made in Sweden and then sold to Venezuela. In another interesting development, a prominent newspaper in the European principality of Andorra, a famous tax haven known for its banking secrecy, reported this month that, at the behest of the U.S. Treasury Department, the Andorran government has frozen bank accounts belonging to people who are "close" to Chávez due to concerns over "the financing of terrorism."

Vicente Duque

Defensores de Democracia 3:49 PM  

Wall Street Journal
The Emerging Axis of Iran and Venezuela
The prospect of Iranian missiles in South America should not be dismissed


Mr. Morgenthau is the Manhattan district attorney. This op-ed is adapted from a speech yesterday at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.

The Emerging Axis of Iran and Venezuela

Some excerpts :

A recent U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) study reported a high level of corruption within the Venezuelan government, military and law enforcement that has allowed that country to become a major transshipment route for trafficking cocaine out of Colombia. Intelligence gathered by my office strongly supports the conclusion that Hezbollah supporters in South America are engaged in the trafficking of narcotics. The GAO study also confirms allegations of Venezuelan support for FARC, the Colombian terrorist insurgency group that finances its operations through narcotics trafficking, extortion and kidnapping.

In a raid on a FARC training camp this July, Colombian military operatives recovered Swedish-made anti-tank rocket launchers sold to Venezuela in the 1980s. Sweden believes this demonstrates a violation of the end-user agreement by Venezuela, as the Swedish manufacturer was never authorized to sell arms to Colombia. Venezuelan Interior Minister Tareck El Aissami, a Venezuelan of Syrian origin, lamely called the allegations a "media show," and "part of a campaign against our people, our government and our institutions."

Why is Hugo Chávez willing to open up his country to a foreign nation with little shared history or culture? I believe it is because his regime is bent on becoming a regional power, and is fanatical in its approach to dealing with the U.S. The diplomatic overture of President Barack Obama in shaking Mr. Chávez's hand in April at the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago is no reason to assume the threat has diminished. In fact, with the groundwork laid years ago, we are entering a period where the fruits of the Iran-Venezuela bond will begin to ripen.

That means two of the world's most dangerous regimes, the self-described "axis of unity," will be acting together in our backyard on the development of nuclear and missile technology. And it seems that terrorist groups have found the perfect operating ground for training and planning, and financing their activities through narco-trafficking.

The Iranian nuclear and long-range missile threats, and creeping Iranian influence in the Western Hemisphere, cannot be overlooked. My office and other law-enforcement agencies can help ensure that money laundering, terror financing, and sanctions violations are not ignored, and that criminals and the banks that aid Iran will be discovered and prosecuted. But U.S. law enforcement alone is not enough to counter the threat.

The public needs to be aware of Iran's growing presence in Latin America. Moreover, the U.S. and the international community must strongly consider ways to monitor and sanction Venezuela's banking system. Failure to act will leave open a window susceptible to money laundering by the Iranian government, the narcotics organizations with ties to corrupt elements in the Venezuelan government, and the terrorist organizations that Iran supports openly.

Vicente Duque

Defensores de Democracia 3:09 PM  

I don't support Airstrikes from the United States or Israel to Iran - Because it can kill thousands of Iranian Civilians by Nuclear Pollution and Contamination like in Chernobyl. And there may be other reasons .... - But some people seem to ask for that. -- The New York Daily News is very liberal and I am surprised to find an article touching that taboo of attacks on Iran and talking about Venezuela helping the Iranian Dictator.

Khadafy is whacky, but Iran's Ahmadinejad is the real threat - Venezuela and Russia - Chavez and Ahmadinejad Marriage - Daily News

Daily News
Khadafy is whacky, but Iran thug Ahmadinejad is the real threat
BY Josh Greenman
September 23rd 2009

Khadafy is whacky, but Iran thug Ahmadinejad is the real threat

Some excerpts :

Just this week in Tehran, Iran's nuclear program director boasted that new centrifuge technology will boost the country's uranium "enrichment power tenfold."

At this point, there are just two ways to make that Obama promise - to hold Iran "accountable" - mean anything: tighten sanctions, including on gasoline, or contemplate an air strike to take out its nuclear facilities.

Success on option one is a reach, given that Venezuela and Russia are likely to help Iran wriggle out of feeling real pain. Still, worth a try.

And if it doesn't work, there is one tool left, probably for Israel to pick up.

A crazy guy muttering to himself like Khadafy is one thing. A vicious plotter with a loaded gun is something else.

Vicente Duque

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