Tribute to the military

Thursday, May 18, 2006

When Weapons Trade Turns Sour

Photo Credit: F-16 Net
Venezuelan F-16 [LMTAS photo]
Because of our latest problem with Chávez, regarding his plan to sell his aging fleet of F-16 aircraft to the highest bidder, one has to wonder why Venezuela has them in the first place. According to an article in the China Daily, dated January 11, 2006,
Venezuela purchased its fleet of 21 F-16 aircraft in 1983. U.S. officials have said the contract signed in 1982, does not obligate the United States to supply parts indefinitely to Venezuela or to upgrade the planes.
In 1983, Venezuela was one of the longest running democracies south of the border and was a friend and trading partner to the United States. The United States has a habit of doing well intentioned trade agreements and arms sales with our friends, only to later get it broken off, when the situation changes. One might say that our foreign policy has been a series of well intentioned follies of error.

Unfortunately, a good friend and ally has turned on us. Perhaps our State Deparment and Foreign Relations officials have been asleep. Perhaps out leadership does not know who their friends are. Who knows. Here is a country, Venezuela, whose relationship with the United States has soured because of its socialist leader.

Hugo Chávez did not show up as blip on the radar screen until 1992. According to Wikipedia online encyclopedia, Hugo Chávez, a former paratroop lieutenant-colonel who led an unsuccessful coup d'état in 1992, was jailed and later released. In December 1998, Chávez was elected President on a platform that called for the creation of a "Fifth Republic", a new constitution, a new name ("the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela"), and a new set of social relations between socioeconomic classes. In 1999, voters approved a referendum on a new constitution, and in 2000, re-elected Chávez, also placing many members of his Movement for the Fifth Republic political party in the National Assembly. Supporters of Chávez call the process symbolised by him the Bolivarian Revolution, and organise themselves in open, local, participatory assemblies called Bolivarian Circles.

By 2001, Chávez was in the pocket of Fidel Castro and courting Iran. In May 2001, Mr. Chávez followed the Cuban leader, who was in Tehran and decided with the Iranian leaders to jointly combat the United States. In that 2001 visit, the Iranian Press Service reported at the time that:
Mr. Chávez had friendly relations with Communist Cuba, but unlike Tehran and Havana, maintained also close relations with Washington, that has imposed trade embargo against both Islamic Republic and Communist Cuba. President Chávez met all senior tenors of Iranian leadership.

Denouncing the US "hegemony" and stressing on Iran’s opposition to "all forms of pressure and oppression", the staunchly anti-US Khameneh'i noted that Latin American countries had resisted the hegemony of the United States thanks to the support of their people. Khameneh'i added, "Latin America has a profound and independent identity and culture and must be protected."

Chávez for his part stressed that the war against imperialism and hegemony was a "common point" between Iran and Venezuela.

According to a memorandum of understanding signed by Chávez and Khatami, the two states set up a high commission on expansion of the bilateral political, economic, cultural and scientific relations between the two countries
Since 2001 the problems with Chávez have become worse. He has spiraled down the toilet along with Venezuela - United States relations. Watch out. It is likely as the problems with Venezuelan - United States relations worsen, Democrats such as, Clinton, Madeline Albright and other liberal pundits will undoubtedly point to President Bush as the "yeehaw" president who alienated the United States from their global village. As you can see, the warning signs have been there for several years.

Stay tuned for additional articles on the weapons trade program.

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