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The United States Response to Worsening Relations with Venezuela

Discussion in 'World Politics' started by BigRob, Oct 12, 2008.

  1. BigRob

    BigRob Well-Known Member

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    Just a few proposals I came up with given the current situation in Venezuela. Feel free to comment on, support, disagree with any of them. Just point out why you do so.

    Also, I know it most likely is controversial to sell arms to and pursue better open relations with Chavez, but at this stage in the game, I think containing Russian expansion in South America is more important than the short term damage Chavez could do.

    Find much more information and the sources I borrowed for the background in the CRS Report.

    The proposals came independent of that report however.



    Background:
    The United States has traditionally maintained good relations with Venezuela, however the regime of Hugo Chavez is threatening this relationship. Venezuela is the fourth largest supplier of oil to the United States, behind Canada, Mexico, and Saudi Arabia. This oil relationship has played a very large role in the United States position towards Venezuela because the United States remains the largest consumer of oil in the world.

    As stated above, the election of Hugo Chavez in 1998, as President of Venezuela, has put a negative connotation on relations with the United States. Concern has been growing over Venezuela’s arms purchases, relations with Iran, Cuba, and recently Russia, the attempts to spread populism to neighboring nations, as well as a concern over human rights.

    Venezuela maintains that they are purchasing arms for defensive purposes against United States aggression in the region. This includes contracts to buy 24 Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets, 50 military helicopters, 100,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles, a license to build a factory to produce Kalashnikov rifles in Venezuela, and several submarines. Part of the explanation for this is that the United States refuses to sell arms to them any longer.

    Particularly worrisome is the relationship that Venezuela has with Iran and Russia. While their relationship with Cuba can be problematic, it does not compare with the other two. The close partnership between Iran and Venezuela is troublesome to the United States because we do not want Iranian influence in our backyard. Also, given that Venezuela is such a large supplier of oil, while Iran does not supply any oil to the United States, there is speculation that should the United States attack Iran, Venezuela will cut off the oil supply to America.

    In recent days the relationship with Russia has come into the spotlight as well. Not only does Russia supply Venezuela with large amounts of weapons as noted above, but they also sent two long-range bombers to the country to conduct training missions in September 2008. In addition to this, a joint Russian-Venezuelan military exercise is scheduled to take place in the near future, presumably in response to the show of force in Georgia by the United States.

    On top of these problems, Venezuela has actively been trying to unite other South American nations against the United States. Chavez has tried to exert influence in Bolivia, Peru, Nicaragua, and Ecuador, however his attempts have not always been successful. One of his major accomplishments however was the creation of the Bank of the South, which is intended to give an alternative to the largely US funded IMF and World Bank. Given that the United States focus has not centered on South America is recent years, Chavez has been able to capture a growing anti-US sentiment in the region that the United States should be aware of.

    Proposals:
    The first thing that the United States needs to do is ensure that all the focus is not put on the Middle East while Venezuela puts together a group of anti-US countries right in our own backyard.

    Aside from that, there are many other solutions that we can enact. First, the United States should replace Russia as the arms supplier to Venezuela. If there is any merit to the claim that Russian equipment is being purchased because the United States will not sell any, then we must address that immediately. To prevent continued Russian influence in the region, we need to continue to sell arms to Venezuela. This will not endanger our relationship, but rather it will allow us to understand exactly what the Venezuelan military capabilities are. On top of this, it will allow US companies to make money from these sales.

    Next, the United States should actively work through pro-US nations, and through our own programs, to foster American ideals in Venezuela. They can do this through radio, newspapers campaigns, and word of mouth. Also the United States should actively encourage the opposition parties in Venezuela to unite behind a single candidate in the upcoming elections in November. Chavez has suffered some defeat with his popularity lately and this could be a valuable tool. His referendum in 2007 was defeated, and his popularity is being diminished due to domestic problems like housing, food shortages, and widespread poverty. If the United States can touch on this sentiment, Chavez could easily be voted out of office by a united opposition.

    Given this background, the United States can feel relatively secure in the fact that Chavez will not cut off the oil supply to the United States should we follow these policies. He has made the threat before, but it has never actually materialized. Given the poor domestic economic situation for many people in Venezuela, it is questionable whether the economy in Venezuela, or Chavez himself, could handle a closure of the oil flow. Given this information, oil could be used as a tool against Venezuela to put pressure on the country for closer ties.

    Recent Russian expansion into Georgia and now South America must also be addressed now. While Russian expansion into Europe might be unpreventable if NATO is not willing to make changes, the United States can actively work to keep Russian expansion out of Venezuela and South America on its own. The United States should work to pursue better relations with Chavez, or with his opposition, so that Venezuela will remain more tied with the US than with Russia. This can be done by opening weapon sales, as mentioned earlier, or also through some form of a security guarantee, much like we offered to Cuba in the Cold War. This would have to be coupled with much more intense diplomatic efforts to other South American nations to ensure that we do not send the message of appeasement.

    The United States should make more development money available to South American nations to counteract the role that the Bank of the South is playing is curtailing American influence.
     
  2. PLC1

    PLC1 Moderator Staff Member

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    A few thoughts:

    While President Chavez has been outspoken about the US, remember that his attempted changes to the Constitution, making him dictator for life, failed. Chavez will fade into history sooner or later, just like every world leader.

    Venezuela needs to maintain a strong enough military to defend itself against neighboring Colombia. There is no way it could defend itself against an all out attack by the US.

    Venezuela, however much its loud mouthed president may talk about US hegemony, whether or not he intimates that Bush is the devil, is not a threat to the US. Sooner or later, his socialistic ideas will fail, as socialism always does, and Venezuela will pursue a more moderate economic policy. We don't have to spread US influence in order to accomplish such an outcome.

    Oil is sold on the world market. It matters little who sells it to whom. The total world production and consumption will determine the price in the long run.

    There is no way that Iran is going to have any great influence in Venezuela. The two cultures are just too dissimilar for such an alliance to have any kind of lasting effect.

    My 2 cents.
     
  3. BigRob

    BigRob Well-Known Member

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    Agreed, I think I pointed that out. The reason for this is because a lot of his "base" did not vote because they were upset over domestic conditions. I do not think we can write off Chavez staging a complete take over just yet. I think its a golden opportunity for the United States to attempt to unite the opposition parties in Venezuela and get rid of Chavez once and for all.

    Agreed, so we should sell them the weapons as opposed to Russia selling them the weapons. At least we would make the money that way, and Russia could not come down and do a "show of force" as we are seeing now.

    I agree that they themselves are not a major threat to the US, just to US influence in the region, as I laid out I think.

    It is also problematic for the the United States to have Russia gaining so much influence in our backyard. Chavez has successfully spread his form of populism to a few other nations in the area and is attempting to do so in other nations.

    While they may collapse long term, short term this is very problematic.

    It would make a difference if Venezuela shuts off their oil flow, which was the threat. Not shut it off to the US, but shut it off in general. That would be the problem.

    I appreciate the response. I also think that you are right, Iran will not have major influence over Venezuela, their relationship is mostly built on anti-US sentiment. That said, this is problematic should the US take action against Iran, if both nations opt to shut down their oil exports. (Which has been threatened) I do not think they will, but if made desperate enough, it would be an option for them.
     
  4. PLC1

    PLC1 Moderator Staff Member

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    Of course we'd be better off to sell Venezuela arms ourselves, rather than have them purchase them from the Russians. We'd make money on the deal, for one thing, and would keep Russian influence to a minimum. It does sound kind of nuts on the surface to sell arms to a wannabe dictator who hates the US, but when you look at the whole picture, it makes a lot of sense. We'd also know what arms they have and don't have, just in case there ever were any military action necessary.

    As for Iran or Venezuela or any other oil exporting nation shutting off the supply, that would be a whole lot like cutting off one's nose to spite the face. Such a move would result in economic collapse of the nation making it.

    What the US had better do, and soon, is solve the problem of energy independence. The sooner we accomplish that feat, the sooner we won't have to worry about some rogue nation having us by the short hairs. Of course, that's a long term solution, and not one that is going to be easy by any means.
     
  5. The Scotsman

    The Scotsman Well-Known Member

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    ...........ouch!!!.......rethink your geopolitics, you'd really peev the Columbians if you did that and you've invested too much money to alienate them! The US DOD recently vetoed a sale of F-16s and spares to Spain in case the Spanish sold them on to Chavez!

    Nah.....let the Russians sell them their out of date, clapped out cast offs and maintain you relationships with your allies in the region! Chavez is full of s**t, he's trying to impress his buddies in Ecuador and Nigaragua by forming a pact with the Russians.

    Did you know that a Russian Naval Task force is on its way to carry out maneuvers in the Caribean?


    U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said "oh...they've managed to find some ships that can make the journey!"
     
  6. Libsmasher

    Libsmasher New Member

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    I never cease to be amazed at your peerless ability to get things 100% ass-backwards. :D Chavez has spent millions and millions of dollars arming and encouraging the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) - a group that is considered a marxist terrorist organization not only by the US but even the EU, and is trying to overthrow the demcratically elected government.
     
  7. PLC1

    PLC1 Moderator Staff Member

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    Two posts, both with the same stuff! Wow, it must be so, since you've repeated it.

    FARC predates Chavez by quite a few years, BTW.

    Venezuela sees its neighbor, Colombia, with a strong military and not too friendly government, so it wants to:

    A. Sit down and sing Kum bah ya with them, or
    B. Make sure that an invasion would be costly, or
    C. Appease them

    Since Venezuela is a leftist nation, your own point of view on leftists would have them choose either A or C, or both, right?

    Of course, their support of FARC is just poking the bear, and is inadvisable. I never said that Chavez was smart or a good leader, just that he sees the need to be armed against Colombia, just like a good rightist would do.

    Right?
     
  8. Libsmasher

    Libsmasher New Member

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    Not relevent. :rolleyes:

    Another of your trademark incoherent statements. :confused:

    Uhhhh........let's see if I got this right: Chavez is trying to overturn the democratic government of the state neighboring his semi-dictatorship, so he better have a strong army, because they might get upset about his paid killers, and attack him? :rolleyes:
     
  9. Bunz

    Bunz New Member

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    I agree with Scotty here for the most part. Id rather them have some outdates MIGs, POS Kalashnikovs, and other Soviet garbage.

    In the meantime, the USAF is quietly increasing thier orders for the F-22s. A bunch of which are stationed at Tindale AFB in Fla. We have them stationed here in AK. They are the most amazing flying machine I have ever seen, and I am an aviation enthusiast.

    For the annual airshow we have up here, this year the Thunderbirds were the visiting headliners. While they always give an awesome show. The single Raptor they had give an exhibit just before the Thunderbirds did thier routine. The F-22 absolutely and beyond a shadow of a doubt blew them out of the water.

    In exercises that are reported about, single F-22s have been having little trouble
    "shooting down" up to 6 F-15s in very short order, without the Eagle pilots even seeing the F-22s.

    So I say let them have the MIGs, nothing but an easy target.
     
  10. The Scotsman

    The Scotsman Well-Known Member

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    Chavez is slightly bonkers....let's face it all his dogs aren't barking when it comes to international relationships. At a recent Spanish / South American conference the Spanish King after being subject to a tirade from Chavez lost his cool and told Chavez to "shut up".

    Chavez is a Socialist, he doesn't like America and doesn't like Colombia becuase he sees them as being a "Yankee Stooge" so he rails against them and supports terrorists....blahddy blahddy.....the guys a lunatic!

    As for the Russians.....well they'd align withselves with a group of drunken fishermen from Tristan de Cunha if they though it would make them look bigger in the eyes of the world. I think the Russians have less to gain out of Chavez than Chavez has from the Russians
     
  11. BigRob

    BigRob Well-Known Member

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    I would rather them buy our outdated garbage.

    We do not sell anyone the F-22. What we will sell them is the F-15. So it would seem we could sell F-15's to Chavez without actually giving him any advantage, all the while making money for the US instead of the Russians.

    In the 80's we sold Venezuela a group of F-16s. They need parts, we should sell them in my opinion.

    I think it is worth it to get Russia out of our backyard. Of course next Russia probably just goes to Bolivia, but they do not have loads of oil, so it really does not matter as much.
     
  12. Bunz

    Bunz New Member

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    I know there are quite a few F-4s out in the desert bone yard.
    I know, have you seen one in person yet? I am not joking when I say they are an amazing machine. With its thrust vectoring, it can cat walk like nothing else in service and the tail slides it pulled were awesome.
    Only our closest allies, and ones in potential hotspots have really managed to get the 15s. Japan, Korea, Israeli's and Saudi's have them.
    Considering its combat record, I would say that Chavez with 15s is unwise.
    If the details could be worked out, I wouldnt be opposed to this.
    Russia not being a player in the western hemisphere is wishful thinking. IIRC relations between Russia and Cuba are still strong. While this whole notion about being able to see Russia from Alaska is partly true, but blown way overboard in this election cycle, the Russians have ramped up thier encroachment over Alaska. In 2006 fishing in the Bering Sea, I was able to watch very clearly a TU-95 flying figure 8s. The media is reporting that it is happening more, but being on the west coast, and 600miles from Russia, that is the only incident I have seen with my eyes.
     
  13. Jarlaxle

    Jarlaxle New Member

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    Sell them spares for their F-16's.

    Sell them SABOTAGED spares, so the planes will fall out of the air after a few months.
     
  14. BigRob

    BigRob Well-Known Member

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    I doubt Chavez really wants those.

    I have seen them before, they are quite the impressive machine. I do agree with that.

    Yea, maybe not on the F-15, but I think it does not give Chavez an advantage over our F-22 no matter what we sell them.

    We also sell a lot of weapons to our allies, but we blackbox a lot of the technology. That way, they get the arms, but not the technology, which could be an option.

    Yea, I think it makes the most sense, we make the money, and they stop buying tons of Russian weapons in theory.

    I agree that Russia will always be a player, but I would prefer that they are a player in a play like Cuba as opposed to a place like Venezuela. Venezuela is much more important for our own strategic interests, therefore I would prefer we keep them closer to us, than allow them to be closer to Russia.
     
  15. PLC1

    PLC1 Moderator Staff Member

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    You have that right. His dogs are definitely not all barking when it comes to a lot of things, including his foreign policy.

    Even Chavez, however, sees a need to keep a strong enough military to defend against Colombia.

    No doubt, he is more than slightly bonkers.

    Yes, he did see the FARC as a way to make an underhanded attack at Colombia, and, by extension, the US. The US has had forces in Colombia for some time now, fighting that other war, you know, the war on drugs. The FARC has been fighting the government of Colombia for quite a while. It is, in actuality, a leftist revolutionary group, just the kind of people that Chavez can relate to, and the kind of group that the US is likely to oppose.


    What the Russians seem to think they have to gain from Chavez is a nation in South America that is sympathetic to Russia. Whether that will actually happen remains to be seen.
     
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