Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Robertson: Assassination Cheaper than War

In an odd move, Pat Robertson, host of the 700 Club, called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. (Chicago Sun-Times: Robertson: Assassinate Venezuela's president). Robertson called Chavez a "terrific danger" to the US and went on to say, ''You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war . . . and I don't think any oil shipments will stop.''

Calling Chavez a "terrific danger" may be a bit overstated. He's becoming extremely vocal in his rhetoric against the US, but that rhetoric appears to be an act of desperation on the part of the besieged Venezuelan leader. Despite his public outcry, oil shipments to the US from Venezuela have not stopped, nor are they likely to. On the verge of civil war, Chavez needs all the money he can get and he's not about to cut-off supply to one of his largest purchasers.

US policy n Venezuela is one of playing each side against the other. We have been selling arms to Chavez to ward off the rebellion for the last couple of years, now. At the same time, however, we've also been covertly supporting the rebellion on the hopes that Chavez will be overthrown in favor of a more moderate leader. (Chavez has strong ties to both Cuba and Iran, something the US would like to see change under a new government.)

Aside from oil, there is little to interest us in Venezuela. Chavez's fears of a US invasion are largely unfounded. We have enough to keep us occupied in the Middle East and North Korea without looking for action in South America. For now, it would appear that US policy down south will be to let nature run its course. That's bad news for Chavez, who really does need the threat of a US invasion to rally support back in his own country. Without it, he may well find himself on the wrong end of a political coup.


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