Skip to comments.Chávez arming to fight attack by U.S.
Posted on 02/12/2005 7:28:32 AM PST by David1
CARACAS - Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has long been known for his harsh anti-Bush rhetoric. But now he's stepping up military plans and weapons purchases to match his combative tone, and he is worrying U.S. policymakers.
Within the past two weeks the leftist populist leader has called himself a ''socialist'' and ''Fidelista,'' and offered a muscular new course for his self-described ''revolution'' on behalf of Venezuela's poor.
''I propose that we move to the offensive, just like the imperialists have moved to the bloody and ruthless offensive. If you don't believe me, look at Iraq . . .'' Chávez told a news conference in Brazil late last month.
''We have to embrace socialism as a thesis,'' he continued, in what observers said was his most direct public reference to his socialist views. He later added that any attack on Cuba or Venezuela ``would be an attack on both.''
Chávez has called President Bush the devil and worse, and he regularly blames Washington for a 2002 coup attempt against him. Critics brand him a would-be dictator, but Chávez has won two democratic elections and fended off a recall referendum just last year.
Still, his latest comments worry U.S. policymakers, mostly because they coincide with his push to obtain new weaponry and forge a new national military doctrine that would prepare his country for a war of resistance against a possible U.S. invasion.
Simultaneously, Chávez has said he is placing the 50,000 soldiers of the military reserve directly under his control and organizing his civilian supporters into armed militias to be known as ``popular defense units.''
OIL A COMPLICATION
Although U.S. officials have dismissed the idea of a military attack on Venezuela, they have expressed concern over Chávez' new stance since Venezuela remains the fourth-largest supplier of oil to the United States.
Earlier this week, the State Department's assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere affairs, Roger Noriega, challenged Chávez's efforts to create the militias and his purchase of 40 Russian helicopters and 100,000 AK-47 assault rifles.
Noriega told a TV interviewer that the weapons could end up in ''the hands of some criminal and irregular groups'' -- an apparent reference to leftist guerrillas in neighboring Colombia with whom Chávez has been accused of sympathizing.
Vice President José Vicente Rangel responded swiftly to Noriega's comments, saying they had ''the deliberate goal of provoking Venezuela'' and that the new guns would replace old weaponry.
The heightened U.S.Venezuela tensions coincide with new strategies for bilateral relations in both countries.
After years of Washington's trying to avoid confrontations with Chávez, a new U.S. ''policy review'' is expected soon to recommend trying to isolate Venezuela from its neighbors.
''We've tried to establish common ground with the Venezuelan government,'' Noriega said in the television interview. ``But, unfortunately, President Chávez has sabotaged our efforts.''
For his part, Chávez has been trying to extricate Venezuela from the U.S. economic sphere of influence by forging ties with countries such as China and Argentina and hinting that he may sell Venezuela's U.S. gasoline and refining business, Citgo.
But it is Venezuela's attempt to procure arms and create militias that has made the U.S. government jumpy.
''Even if these are to replace the older weapons, where are these older models going to go?'' wondered one State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity. ``They're old. It doesn't mean they're useless.''
Other deals include the purchase of the 40 helicopters and the possible purchase of 50 Russian-made MiG 29 fighter jets. Media reports from Washington say the United States has petitioned Russia to rethink the sales.
While some officials worry that the AK-47s could end up in Colombian rebels' hands, others believe the weapons acquisition is a reasonable part of Chávez's shift in military doctrine.
As described by Gen. Melvin López, head of the National Defense Council (Venezuela's equivalent to the National Security Council), the new doctrine would focus on an ''asymmetric war'' -- a conflict between a superior and an inferior fighting force, like those in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Under the new doctrine, the only way to fend off a superior enemy is by using guerrilla tactics -- hence Chávez's efforts to create militia groups and bulk up reserve units.
In recent statements, López said asymmetrical war would involve ``the participation of the whole population; adapting ourselves to the geopolitical [situation] of the country.''
Chávez recently said the new popular defense units would comprise 10 to 500 members each and would fall outside the normal military hierarchy and directly under the president's command, in effect creating Chávez's own, private revolutionary army. They are to be organized ``in the barrio, in the factory.''
If the ''imperialists'' intervene in Venezuela, Chávez added, ``they will face the people . . . ready to defend their sovereignty, their country and their dignity.''
Venezuela's new strategy comes from the same roots as 'the prolonged popular war of Mao Zedong, Ho Chi Minh and Vo Nguyen Giap in Asia, and `the war of all the people' in Cuba,' '' said one of the Chávez government's ideologues, Mexico-based academic Heinz Dieterich.
Cuba has long projected the ''war of all the people'' not only as the strategy it would use to wear down and eventually defeat a possible U.S. invasion but as the kind of aggressive posture that might even deter a U.S. attack.
That is not far from the vision of Gen. Alberto Müeller, a studied military tactician as well as a former senator and Chávez campaign aide. Müeller is expected to be named to the special government commission that will put the country's new military doctrine in writing.
In an interview with The Herald, Müeller said the new doctrine of ''decentralized defense'' was to signal the United States not to attack.
If he's arming himself, then I'm sure he's planning something that he expects to prompt a US response.
This man is simply insane. Do the people of his country recognize this?
"We have to embrace socialism as a thesis''
Fidels pal. Yes, 80% of the people are poor so let`s take even more money that isn`t there, after all I guess money grows on trees in Venezuela. Screw capitalism and globalism! Let`s use monopoly money!
About as much as the former governments did, maybe more as oil prices have risen.
He has diverted funds from the middle and upper class to the lower masses.
He is just using the same tactic Castro has been using for the past 45 years to entertain his own people and make them forget about their own hardships. Now he is using the same fear of "US invasion" as Castro has used for the past 45 years. I was expecting this for a long time since he is such a Castro butt kisser.
Isn't this same fella that Jimmy Carter embraced his election and had a lovefest with?
Barrett M82A1 .50cal BMG = "Reach out and touch someone long distance".
This guy has manure for brains;
Too bad he holds a country's reins.
Thinks he's Napoleon or Charlemagne;
He's cer-ti-fi-a-bly insane.
The Cuban experience is a good comparison. They attempted several failed adventures in other countries but were not successful, due in large part to US support for the targets.
IMO One big difference in this case is that Cuba is an island, constrained by geographical fact. Venezuela is not so constrained and will have an easier time infiltrating and/or supporting dissident groups in already unstable neighboring countries.
His biggest mistake is to fall in with Castro.
The land expropriations is a biggie too.
These are the two big things that could swing against him.
"Do the people of his country recognize this?"
Many do, yes. And they tried hard to get rid of him, unfortunately they did not succeed.
He is a stinking commie, but there are still too many of them. The thug, Mugabe, has just about ruined Zimbabwe; and Chavez bids to ruin Venezuala.
Once again, let us give thanks we live in the USA. And let us continue to work hard to keep it free, especially free from Communism. And from Islamofacism, the growing scourge.
...not to forget, D. Ortega did the same schtick, over and over, during his term ruining Nicaragua.
He's not as smart as Castro. He's just imitating Castro. I'm guessing he'll self-destruct.
This has all the ingredients of a Woody Allen re-make.
And yet every socialist country also has its nomenklatura of high government officials that has special privileges and benefits available only to it.
Venezuela, having learned nothing from the past or present, wants to go that failed direction?
Was Ortega the one that came in after the revolution?
Because from what I hear from people before it was not much better. Torture chambers, money stolen from relief funds, even blood donated to help in an earthquake was sold on.
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