A world tour by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez took him to Belarus, Russia, Iran, Vietnam and Qatar.
While in Russia in late July he used his petrodollars to purchase a shopping cart full of fighter jets, helicopters, Kalishnikov assault rifles and even a submarine. To top off the list he also purchased a license to build a Kalishnikov factory in Venezuela.
Observers surmise the rifles will be exported to resistance groups in Peru and Colombia. The U.S. State Department has expressed concern that with this massive amount of arms going into the region, a serious imbalance will be created.
President Chavez is an outspoken critic of the United States and is presently courting other nations with ideologies that differ from the Bush administration. Russia’s relations with America have recently cooled, and President Vladimir Putin is willing to create links with Chavez as a gesture of independence and solidarity with another anti-American state.
Venezuela is seeking a seat on the United Nation’s Security Council, and some feel this is possible. A seat for President Chavez on the council would give him a stage from which he could oppose every U.S. initiative and serve as a voice for all other states that oppose American policy and wish it to fail.
President Chavez is far from a direct threat to Washington. The United States is Venezuela’s main customer for exports, so it is unlikely he wants to sever all relations. But such an accumulation of arms creates instability in Latin America. At some future point this could escalate into another major front, something America, and the world, does not need.
Anytime we see a growing anti-American force, it spells potential trouble, not just for U.S. interests, but for the global stability that leads to productive commercial growth among the nations. It is also another marker on the road to the prophesied American decline. This will not be good for anyone.
—Sources: AFP, Reuters