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Strategic alliance between Venezuela and Russia

The Council on Hemispheric Affairs, founded in 1975, is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan, tax-exempt research and information organization. It has been described on the Senate floor as being "one of the nation's most respected bodies of scholars and policy makers." Webdiarist Peter Hindrup kindly sought and obtained permission for Webdiary to reprint the Council’s recent press release.

A Fact of Life: Strategic Alliance Venezuela and Russia

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez met on July 22 in Moscow with his Russian counterparts President Dimitri Medvédev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. They seemed to enjoy every moment of the occasion, even though it was rather short when it came to hard developments. The encounter was arranged to formalize a military and defense alliance between the two countries, dubbed the “Alianza Estratégica.” The three leaders placed great stress on the importance of the meeting in which trade deals, arms sales, coordinated energy policies and the expansion of trade and joint financial services were achieved between the two nations.

By 2007, bilateral trade between Russia and Venezuela had reached 1 billion dollars and is now likely to expand exponentially. The Russian and Venezuelan leaders carried out negotiations for the acquisition of a large number of army tanks, which are viewed by the Venezuelan high command as being indispensable to the modernization of the country’s armed forces. Some Washington insiders believe that Caracas might be considering the purchase of the first of what could be several Russian submarines, as well as a number of AN-74 military transport aircrafts, while at the same time continuing with talks about importing a Kalashnikov rapid firing weapons’ assembly factory scheduled to be put into operation in Venezuela.

Moscow’s Challenge to the U.S.
What Washington has to fear is not so much Moscow’s projected arms sales to Venezuela, but that an increasingly sharp-tongued Russia is now planning to give as much as it receives to the U.S. Russia intends to show the U.S. their discontent over Washington desires to build a missile shield in Poland and the Bush administration’s encouragement to Georgia and the Ukraine to sign up with NATO. Meanwhile, Moscow can be expected to express concern for Venezuelan sovereignty and solidarity with Chávez and his populist, nationalist cause, in terms very similar to the bellicose foreign policy being undertaken by the Medvédev-Putin government towards Washington. Furthermore, the Bush administration must realize that it is probably viewing the first round in Russia’s notable reemergence in Latin American political and economic affairs, but this time its policy is fueled not so much by soviet ideology as by a relentless quest for natural resources, and that Moscow is prepared to direct at Washington’s expense, heavy assets as well as the time and attention necessary to elevate its geopolitical silhouette in the region.

Venezuelan-Russian Relationship Thickens
Since 2006, Venezuela and Russia have engaged in arms transactions including Kalishnikov assault rifles, Sukhoi fighter jets and a fleet of helicopters, generating mounting apprehension in Washington. Another tie between both countries has been the constant flow of military and technical personnel, offering and receiving specialized training, such as Russian technicians flying into Venezuela to instruct local mechanics, as well as assigning flight instructors to train Venezuelan pilots so taht they can operate recently acquired equipment.

The military relationship established between Venezuela and Russia raises questions concerning Chávez’s goal of achieving peace throughout Latin America, while he remains quite agitated over what he considers to be Washington’s hostile intentions towards his left-leaning government. The consolidation of the country’s military forces is being pursued relentlessly by Venezuela’s high command, and the process plays an important role in the Venezuelan president’s aspiration to spearhead the regional integration movement of like-minded societies, now being witnessed throughout northern South America.

The Implications of Moscow’s Parachuting into Latin American Diplomacy
The international community has been paying close attention to Chávez’s visit to Russia and Moscow’s impact on Venezuela’s future geopolitical capabilities and ambitions. In addition, the geopolitical situation between these two countries illustrates how Russian relations with Latin America are becoming more important by the day, not only because of its arms sales throughout in the region, but also due to the aggressive “resource diplomacy” that Moscow has been undertaking throughout South America. The continuing chilly relationship between Venezuela and the United States, along with Washington’s increasingly frosting relationship with Moscow, almost certainly will continue to contribute to the substantial strengthening of military and diplomatic connections between Russia and Venezuela. This prospect cannot possibly make the U.S. very happy.

The new fact of life facing Washington is that Russia will be a growing factor when it comes to relating to the left leaning governments in the region, who are seeking autonomy from U.S. policy makers, which Washington is sure to deem dangerous, but which Moscow considers just fine.

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Ireland's invasion of Great Britain

Angela Ryan: "But just ignore the Georgian invasion and Russian retaliation....after all, Azerbaijan was only going to attack the independent region of its own and Armenia if the Georgian assault proved successful – and wouldn't that have been a fire starter."

Excuse me, but wasn't Georgia more or less entirely incorporated by Russia for most of the 20th and several centuries prior to that?

What next? Ireland's "invasion" of Great Britain? Tibet's "invasion" of Russia?

Honestly, the Cold War is over, so we don't need to automatically justify everything Moscow does anymore. Or even China, for that matter.

Cold war illusions rise again, just as Clean Break suggested

Well Eliot, I suspect that we both have memories of the Cold War threat and few have missed popular culture interpretations of what would happen in a full-blown war between those so intent on ruthless battle with no holding back any weaponry. Some classics were the likes of On the Beach and for kids was Wargames.

You will note in the Israel a Clean Break, those ("Neocons") trying to persuade both Israel leaders and the US to follow their White Paper include ramping up the Soviet-like era propaganda to encourage arms sales and the need for Missile Shield and such would please the senators so supported by them and gain their support to "get with the program".

Almost everything in that Paper has been attempted. It is not surprising that we keep hearing the likes of Kagan calling for the US to take military action against Russia in this Georgian enterprise – and the Polish FM, from AEI, doing the deals for the missile placings in Poland.

How would the USA respond to Russia putting something similar in, say, Cuba?

Lucky all this tension, billions just this year on the missile shield. Nice windfall for a Military Industrial Complex that had been faced with huge losses with the post Cold war peace. There have also been some recent revelations about the arms deals going on in Azerbaijan and Georgia involving US senators and unsavoury persons. Russia and Britain have also gained billions from the arms sales, and we are about to part with billions for our US bought weaponry and missiles.

It is not hard to see that an arms industry needs world tensions, especially involving those who can afford to buy up big. If one wants to ramp up tension with the US one places missile systems in Cuba. If one wants to ramp up the Russians one puts them in surrounding ex soviet states. The space jocks like to tell conferences that the next world war will be fought in space before anyone knows....using the platforms etc, so heck, put more money there too.

When countries with powerful militaries threaten other countries then the latter will seek weaponry and alliances – simple. The greater the power of the threatening nation, the more powerful the alliance perceived to be needed, or nuclear weapons.

In a world where there is accountability and diplomacy and legalities observed there is, in theory, no need for any of this.

Unfortunately Iraq and Afghanistan (and Haiti, Somalia, ...) show there is no accountability for US allied aggression under the PNAC and Clean Break plans currently influencing foreign policy – hence the seeking of alliances and savage weaponry by those threatened.

I suspect that you, Eliot, are no keener than I for the MIC to drive the world’s foreign policy to the brink of nuclear war. That is why I personally see the empowerment of international legal authority as a method to prevent such if administered to all member states equally, with no immunity or veto for superpowers.

Obviously a pipedream, but the alternative is return to brinkmanship or empire as we are at present. The empire chance has gone now unless Russia/Putin group are eliminated. China also may chose to go it alone soon too.

Eliot, I had no doubt you would have been perfectly aware of most of this.

But without games, I wonder about your opinion on some things.

I find a few things interesting. Why do you think the Georgian FM was so vocal about Israeli military support and training recently (but hardly mentions the USA)?

Why do you think Saaskashali did this? (I can only imagine what will happen to him now, but he will probably just get "hit".) Did he or his advisors really think the Russian response would not be overwhelming? If so what is the real agenda? (There is an article suggesting the last NATO meeting gave Saaskashali the go ahead.)

Russia has laid much of the responsibility for the fighting on Washington. Dmitry Rogozin, Russia's Special Envoy to NATO, linked Georgia's attack against South Ossetia with NATO's recent summit in Bucharest stressing that they dropped a hint to the Georgian President: Georgia will get NATO admission, and Mikhail Saakashvili understood he could launch the attack.

Rogozin added, “Though NATO does not want to show it truly sides with Saakashvili, at the latest summit the President got a permit to start a military operation.”

Was the recent attempt at regime change in Turkey related? (What would the fate of Armenia et al been if the regime had been changed and the Azeris gone ahead – as perhaps planned if Georgia were successful – a gamble?)

Why the blatant BBC bias? Why was Britain the apparent prime mover allegedly so opposed to a ceasefire on August 9 in the UNSC? I wonder how much the Brits are involved in this, knowing their background regarding the oligarchs and Chechnya support record. Is the US government being blamed unfairly for a foolish confused UK sporting shoot jolly good not our backyard tough luck chaps, but let’s blame the Yanks and Israelis for a lark eh what?

Who were the foreign covert persons caught by Russia two weeks before this? reported July.

And home they go, hopefully safely:

Regarding the military personnel, EUCOM stated that they are not engaged in the conflict and are removed from where the fighting is happening.

In addition to the trainers, 1,000 soldiers from the Vicenza, Italy-based Southern European Task Force (Airborne) and the Kaiserslautern-based 21st Theater Sustainment Command, along with Marine reservists with the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines out of Ohio, and the state of Georgia’s Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 121st Infantry recently participated in "Immediate Response 2008."

That exercise, which had the U.S. troops operating from Vaziani, concluded on Thursday. That base, near the capital of Tbilisi, was bombed by Russian aircraft over the weekend, Georgian officials said.

As for the roughly 2,000 Georgians currently deployed to Iraq, they are now being redeployed to their home country for support. The first of those soldiers departed Iraq over the weekend, according to the military.

The Georgians had made up the third-largest contingent of foreign troops in Iraq.

Why is the US moving their fleet where they are (?) blockading Iran at this time? A deal? Action elsewhere? Pressure? Posturing?

Definitely it is going to be a cold winter for some European countries. It might get a bit hot for Ukraine regarding the anti-aircraft batteries used and the port issue for the Russian fleet and so on, and ,should they continue to join NATO, it seems Eric Blair's prediction is coming true, NATO, vs SCOC, vs? – all stirred up for the MIC profits.

But heck, the Israeli coach of the Russian something or other sport team shook hands with the Iranian team, cheers, now build on it you guys..........perhaps there is value in meeting without weaponry to forge respect and relations....hope with the hoops.


ps sorry Geoff about not answering your question last time about the Ekky trade, presume you easily found the references, most were in JP and Haaretz, of course.

pps sorry Eliot not to reply to your query. Here are some references

Here is about the nuke triggers to Pakistan, here is about the Israelis dressed up as fundamentalist Afghani Moslems:

On January 12 Indian intelligence officials in Calcutta detained 11 foreign nationals for interrogation before they were to board a Dhaka-bound Bangladesh Biman flight. They were detained on the suspicion of being hijackers. "But we realised that they were tabliqis (Islamic preachers), so we let them go," said an intelligence official. They had planned to attend an Islamic convention near Dhaka, but Bangladesh refused them visa. Later, seemingly under Israeli pressure, India allowed them to fly to Tel Aviv.

Where's the catch? The secret circular that warned of a possible hijack

"They had landing permits at Dhaka, but that's not visa," said a diplomat in the Bangladesh High Commission in Delhi. "We decided not to entertain them anymore because we cannot take chances."

The eleven had Israeli passports but were believed to be Afghan nationals who had spent a while in Iran. They had secured landing permits for Dhaka and one-way tickets on Bangladesh Biman's Calcutta-Delhi route through a Delhi-based travel agency.

"We have a right to deny travel facility to a passenger even if he has a valid ticket on security grounds," said a Bangladeshi Biman official who did not want to be named. To the Bangladesh Biman officials the eleven, who were all Muslims, appeared "too murky".

Indian intelligence officials, too, were surprised by the nationality profile of the eleven. "They are surely Muslims; they say that they have been on tabligh (preaching Islam) in India for two months. But they are Israeli nationals from the West Bank," said a Central Intelligence official.

He claimed that Tel Aviv "exerted considerable pressure" on Delhi to secure their release. "It appeared that they could be working for a sensitive organisation in Israel and were on a mission to Bangladesh," the official said.

With a less India-friendly government in Dhaka, Pakistan's ISI could step up its help to the insurgents in the northeast.

Angela's right. It was entirely predictable.

Angela Ryan: "...arms dealers – missile shield, usual ordinance, radar testers etc, all who like any blood bath or threat of such, and AEI and Hudson Institute groups, McCain group regularly visited and put Saask in power – nearly shot down last summer too, military trainers US marines/and Israeli mercenaries already mentioned"

So, I guess President Dimitri Medvédev's and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's arms shipments to Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez under the “Alianza Estratégica”  are no longer acceptable in your view, too, now?

Yeah, right.

But you are absolutely correct. Aspects of this development in Georgia were entirely predictable. See my comments below;

"Denounce US imperialist meddling in Russian internal affairs"

- August 11, 2008 - 9:40am, and;

"So, it's okay by you, Michael, that NATO takes in a few more former Soviet Republics, then?"

- on July 28, 2008 - 2:30pm.

What the "game" needs is fewer hackneyed slogans and time-worn leftovers from the cold war passed off as "analysis', doesn't it? But don't hold your breath waiting.

Let the games begin,war industry one, diplomacy/peacekeepers hit

Jenny: “That one certainly crept up on us all did it not?"..

No it didn't actually, Jenny, it has been on the cards for quite a while and accelerating over the last month particularly. It has been repeatedly noted as a potential flash point area for nooklear war.

Whether it does help the billion buck missile shield selling project or doesn't depended on how it went. All the same, one has to admire the selling effort of the shrill anti-Putin team led by Anne Applebaum (hubby Sitoski AEI member, Polish FM/defence, missile fear salesman extra-ordinaire and Polish assets dealer for Murdoch) and echoed by the BBC which has a bizarre loss of reality in their reporting of this issue that echoes the WMD fiasco.

So, interests:

-BTS pipeline (oil companies, Israel-Ashkelon dream, India-energy source hopes, usual mercenaries – this time named as Israeli ex-generals and their teams);

-arms dealers – missile shield, usual ordinance, radar testers etc, all who like any blood bath or threat of such, and AEI and Hudson Institute groups, McCain group regularly visited and put Saask in power – nearly shot down last summer too, military trainers US marines/and Israeli mercenaries already mentioned;

-anti-Putin rabble – oligarchs kicked out and their lackeys like Rothschild group/Khodorsky pals, Berezovsky et al, and Murdoch as usual loving a good war spin;

-and Polish and other ex-soviet nationals educated to fear Russian dominance again and preferring honest American dominance and the wars that leads to instead.

Brings out the usual warwhore crowd, doesn't it? Yet this time the peacekeeping forces didn’t run away and leave the people to be murdered as in Rwanda and other sad areas like Bosnia. Let us hope the? Butcher of South Ossetia, Saaskashali is held to account for his war crimes of raining missiles down upon a city during peace time. And if the ethnic cleansing is true then add that to the crimes. (Even Israel has condemned the Georgian action and halted military aid to that country! The moral high ground led by Israel is a delight for once. Let us hope it is a leadership that continues in that vein. Must really piss off the Likud, though.)

So will there be an international tribunal and a war crime trial? If the accusations are true, that Georgian forces launched multiple missile launch attacks upon the South Ossetia capital where the peacekeepers were and hitting their barracks (killing 10), then bring it on! Was it planned beforehand, was that why the regime there engaged US and private Israeli military support over the last few months, were any assurances given, who authorised the attack itself, will NATO still take Georgia now it has shown to be such a" loose cannon" literally? Why is the Georgian FM trying to directly implicate and dirty the Israeli government in this action?

Or do only African and white-bearded Bosnian Serbs get charged for war crimes, slaughtering civilians ethnic clearing etc?

Well, let us see if this all gets Polish missile shield bucks now. What a cost!

And why has the BBC coverage been so biased? What is the reason, were there black ops involved here, or military contracts, or was it because of the pipeline, or the background anti-Putin UK stance – since they took the oligarchs’ and bankers’ losses and their footy teams are owned by such, or their little spy devices were so embarrassingly displayed from that Moscow park......or was it that Moscow leaked recording of the "Hey Blair" Bush sweater knitting cuddle, sooo embarrassing while Lebanon was being bombed....or that airplane contract missed, or that desperation about oil supply now the North sea is .....or that little Basra expose during the invasion.......and that Milan incident...and that ex-SBS military 7/7 leak.......and that BP tweaking .....and Saudi pipeline issue....and Turkey resilience......and that memory of Chechnya terrorists happy in London....so many reasons, so many needs for couple therapy, will they ever kiss and make up? Is it terminal?

Let us hope they do before the Sochi Winter Olympics – already moved this month ...."Environmental concerns"....Putin, always the diplomatic speech.

I do wonder whether he has brought his queen out too early this time as some have also wondered elsewhere.....

Yes, Jenny, have been busy watching and don’t actually give much of a stuff for the "Olympics" held in Communist fascist China. And some of our athletes were not able to compete as they brought the games into "disrepute". The Iraqis were held back due to "government interference". Some were not given a visa due to their political stance on issues...journalists not accessing Amnesty sites and then we hear that no Chinese can access Amnesty sites. Pathetic and the only thing that is clear to see is the air you breathe, no difference.

Sport has become the opium of the masses and it sure dulls them down.

But just ignore the Georgian invasion and Russian retaliation....after all, Azerbaijan was only going to attack the independent region of its own and Armenia if the Georgian assault proved successful – and wouldn't that have been a fire starter.


Let the games begin.

Georgia, thousands of miles from American continent...

And here it is.... 

"Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, commenting on the Russia-Georgia conflict, has accused the United States of making a "serious blunder" in pursuing its interest in the Caucasus region.

He also said the US charge that Russia was committing aggression in Georgia was "not just hypocritical but shows a lack of humanity".

"By declaring the Caucasus, a region that is thousands of miles from the American continent, a sphere of its 'national interest,' the United States made a serious blunder," Gorbachev said in an opinion piece to be published in the Washington Post on Tuesday...."

Venezuela, thousands of miles from Eastern Europe, good.

Georgia, thousands of miles from American continent, bad.


Denounce US imperialist meddling in Russian internal affairs

Sorry, I thought I'd just get a word in about Georgia before the "peace" movement made it official.

Michael de Angelos: "While they meddled endlessly in South America they at least kept up a front but their attacks upon Chavez (democratically elected) have been appaling."

The government in Georgia is democratically elected, too, of course.

So, are we all square now about Russia supplying weapons to Hugo Chavez?

Being drunk may be easier

Jenny, something that we can agree upon without qualification!

The best is over, we, that is those of us who are in our late 60's early 70's have lived through the most wealthy period in history. We missed the hell of WW11, though some of course have been caught up in lesser, but no less nasty if you were in them affairs.

We grew up in a world where the community built for the future, here, New Zealand, The US. From the sixties on the Western world grew increasingly richer. Living standards reached levels that our parents, and grand parents could not have dreamed about, and would not have understood the need for. Yet beginning about this time ‘we’ not only failed to maintain the infrastructure that we inherited, even more damningly we failed, broadly speaking to invest for future generations.

Collectively we have run up dept, as individuals and countries. New York drainage is through tunnels. The tunnels are failing and New York not only has no idea of how to fix them, nor do they have the money. It is not New York alone, it is just one example that I can think of. There is a solid piece on the state of the US finances, The Real State of the US Economy: Henry Paulson Has Lost Control Over US Finance by William F. Engdahl, which I understand is to be posted on Webdiary,— Richard?

Collectively, throughout the wealthiest period in history we have not only spent all we could get our hands on — I hesitate to say earned, though of course many have — we have not even maintained what we had.

Are we really leaving our descendants a better world? Are we leaving them a world that is as good?

Of course I am aware of the huge advances in medicine and science. I am one of the many who would have been long dead without the advances made. Computers, the net, tv, but look at the whole of what makes up life.

However, I do not share the view that facing this world as a youngster is more difficult that it was in our time. This world would suit me. The opportunities are myriad, it very much easier to do ‘startups’ than when I was young. The difficulties I see are for those who by temperament want a job, to work in some structured, reliable environment

Paul asked Jenny if she gets as depressed as he does when he looks at what goes on in the world. Last night I watched The rape of Nanking which I taped some time ago. People! They really do make me sick.

Back when Howard was last elected a friend of mine, who somewhat shamefacedly said: ‘Peter’ I don’t care what happens to Lebanese, I just want more of the financial success that I have now’. His father was a Lebanese.

Some years back, while walking through the Cross one night a Lad, nine, ten, came up to me from a group huddled on a step on the footpath. ‘Do you want me?’ Waving for his younger sister, ‘do you want my sister?’ ‘My mother?’ What sort of a world leaves people that bloody desperate? In a society as wealthy as ours?

Walking from the Cross home to Bondi Junction —- I have always walked at night — I caught up with a young girl and as I drew level she said: ‘ hello, I’m Rosie, I’m thirteen and I’m not cracking it’. The smile she had lit up the night. As we walked up through Paddington I was told of her family — professionals, psychiatrist and some other doctor — but then she said that somebody was giving her heroin, for ‘nothing’.

Subsequently I did some digging, found out who, that it wasn’t some street dealer, but somebody much further up the chain. I went to the cops. They did nothing. I went to the Wayside Chapel, where they have worked with kids on drugs for many years, they surely had some contacts, some pull, somewhere, but when I said ‘drug dealer’ I was talking to an empty room. Rang a friend in South Australia, ASIO, and though he got somebody to ring me, it came to nothing. Rosie’s brother, ex-druggy and a bikie got her out. If there is anything funny in it, he went looking for her and she was on the street near the Fountain. Furious, he snapped at her, ‘are you working?’ That bloody smile, and a denial. At that point somebody walking past asked: ‘How Much?’ And she whipped around and answered: ‘$10' — or some such.

Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, bloody atrocities with absolutely no justification possible for any of it.

Excess fruit from my Grandmother’s orchard was always delivered to the local creche. Our family always had a welfare child because my mother believed that there should always be a baby in the house. In time of flood, common in Poverty Bay, my father always loaded a share of the winter potatoes and pumpkins and delivered them to the flood headquarters.

I do not understand not helping, not sharing, or throwing things out that others might use. I do not understand not turning up when there is a flood or a fire and doing what you can. I do not understand the concept of not doing anything unless you are going to be paid for it. It seems to me to be miserable world to inhabit.

Perhaps fascinating, as opposed to "fun"

Paul, I did.

My comment that I thought life might be fun wasn't intended to imply that I liked the situation, or that I thought it would be fun for so many others.

The fact is the problems in the US are far deeper, and far longer running than the horror wrought during the Bush administration.

As you may have gathered from my post in Driven to desperation, I don’t believe that things need to be, or ought to be as they are in the world.

Unfortunately the further one digs the worse things become. “Power” and the delusions of grandeur, especially when supplemented by religious fervour, twist and drive people. The results are never anything but ugly.

no help here, either.

Just watching an somewhat loaded epic about the nihilist New Russia on SBS. Even allowing for the fact that its probably right-wing funded, there is absolutely nothing in this doco to indicate that the new Russia is going to be of the slightest use in helping sort the world's problems, either.

 A new ruling class firmly rooted in nineteenth century values.

Seems you are right there Paul

Paul: "There is absolutely nothing in this doco to indicate that the new Russia is going to be of the slightest use in helping sort the world's problems, either."

You would appear to be right there Paul. We are now looking at the possibility of all out war between Russia and Georgia. That one certainly crept up on us all did it not? While we were glued to the Beijing opening ceremony Russian tanks were heading into Georgia and its planes reportedly bombing its cities.

Another flood of refugees no doubt. Never ends really.

no longer even the pretence

Jenny, do you get as depressed as I do when you follow what goes on in the world?

All I can say is, I'm not a little one having to grow up into it. Our lot have had the best of it.

Yes Paul, the best is over

Yes Paul: I had a friend here the other day - same age - and he was sitting there saying - thank God our time was now, and we are not just starting out on our life journey. I agreed totally with him.

I look at the babies in the family and wonder just what the world will be like for them, and worry about that. 

This business in Georgia could get right out of hand. If they want independence in that Ossetia enclave then why the hell not let them have it. If a bit of a country wants a divorce then surely it is better to give it, rather than kill each other over the issue. Beats me. 

Seems to me the Georgians could be playing with fire. They could lose everything over this.   

No more love at your command

Good post, Peter Hindrup.

Amazing, how quickly things can change when they seem so static.

The twenty years since the fall of the Berlin Wall seems a good example. We had reached the "End of History” according to Fukuyama. The US was now alone at the top of the food chain, the Eastern Block was stuffed, the Chinese trapped in medievalism and Western Europe too disunited to do anything except be good Mittel Europeans. Neo liberal market theory had it that nation states no longer mattered and we would be one huge shopping mall in no time at all, anyway.

And for a while it did I seem the case. Until US hubris caused it to entertain one clumsy adventure too many in the middle east and lose control there, as well as fracturing its fragile, wasteful casino capitalist consumer mall economy, thus allowing patient rivals who had bided their time after setbacks a chance to get back into defending their interests on the global stage.

One place where the mice played while the cat was away was long taken for granted was Latin and South America. And for survival, given the eventual notoriety of US School of the Americas, CIA, and eventual numberless Marines intrusions, those who found their interests inimical to those of America made common cause with other US rivals for self-preservation.

Does this mean we are infatuated with Hugo Chavez, Raoul Castro, et al? Not necessarily. But these can hardly be worse than US sponsored scum like the Somozas and Pinochet. And it is true that Chavez' interests now part company with the US and its interests, as much because they are not willing to accommodate him as he is them. So for the little guy it becomes a matter of survival.

But then, right across the world, the US now suffers for its off-handed behaviour toward those it disdainfully has looked down on or complacently treated as conveniences for its own benefit. Instead these nations look to Russia and China, or Mid eastern countries who have somehow survived previous interference. Also Japan and even Western Europe are considered as alternatives, for weaponry and alliances, not with the US but to protect themselves against it, on the basis of behaviours recent and not so recent.

This includes bodgy arms deals for junk that never works, as our country has also discovered on so many occasions in recent times.

The upshot is, now our rivals to the north buy the deadly new SU 16 warplanes while we are stuck with semi-obsolete expensive Hornet junk we have to buy from the US because of our treaty obligations. As a result, defence experts go ballistic (pun), our pockets are once more picked to prop up the likes of Lockheed-Martin and Halliburton, and our very security is in question.

Interesting times

Paul, how the world has changed! When Bush took over few would have thought that the US was vulnerable, and fewer still would have given any credit to the view Israel was not firmly in control, and unbeatable in the Middle East.

Today neither is seen as untouchable militarily, and financially the US is surviving economically by the good graces of its creditors. (Lot of self interest here, pulling the plug will involve facing the fact that they — the creditors — made really poor investment decisions).

The reaction to 9/11 — a mere smack in the mouth, along with the shambles that followed the drowning of New Orleans has demonstrated to the world just how little substance this mythical unbeatable beast has.

South America has changed almost beyond recognition, and the world’s supplies of energy are firmly in the hands of the ‘have-nots’ and the slave/downtrodden/compliant states.

Japan pays all the costs of the US presence. The population detests the presence but for strategic reasons the government has held on. But for how long do you cling to a fading power, a power that no longer has the air of invincibility?

And what of the other countries where the US have bases, in most of which they are similarly detested by the population at large, but where the “hard currency” they brought was welcomed? For how long after the greenback becomes worth no more than the paper it is printed on?

Is there any logical reason that the US will not unravel with the same speed as did the USSR?

There is the Chinese curse: "May you live in interesting times".

I have, for much of my life, and I think it not much of a curse. Whatever time I have left looks like being fun.

sandwiches and a milkshake?

Peter Hindrup, it was a sad day when a bunch of slick hooligans hijacked the US political process, intent upon wreaking short term personal gain out the world's powerhouse regardless of any harm done to the American or any other people, now left to pay off the bills in different ways. The Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac bailout is only the latest example of so many recently to demonstrate the injury done to a misled people now plagued by mortgage foreclosures and deteriorating superannuation returns by criminals and vaudevillians like the Bushes, Cheney, Howard, Olmert and Murdoch.

But for the global poor, sharply rising staple food and fuel prices due to global economic mismanagement will ensure millions of extra unnecessary deaths.

Did you see the Latteline show early this week, where it was mentioned that hundreds of millions of people in India are living on 30 cents a day?

You have to laugh

Richard:  "They're not the only ones, eh Eliot?"

Well, of course not. But who else would think it worth gaoling journalists for criticising their would-be president for life in press articles "based on confidential sources"?

I mean, since the Catholic Church in Spain abolished The Inquisition, that is?

What a ludicrous buffoon Chavez is, and so laughably transparent. He's like a child. Do you recall this;

"The government of Colombia is capable of provoking a war with Venezuela to justify the intervention of the United States," said Mr Chavez, lambasting Mr Uribe during his weekly Sunday broadcast as "liar" and leader of a "narco-government"?

That was on 12 May this year.

Almost the moment I read the "narco-government" crack about Uribe, I realised that Chavez must himself have been dealing drugs in some huge way.

It was simply such a juvenile, fatuous and contextually inappropriate remark, I realised it was in liklihood a Freudian slip - Chavez actually projecting on to his opponent like a slow-witted child calling another "fat" or "stinky" in a playgroud argument. Plain to everyone, probably.

And yep,within days Hugo's was outed as a "narco - government" itself:

"THE President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, is facing serious allegations about his country's links to Colombian guerillas after Interpol bolstered the credibility of intercepted rebel documents.

The international police organisation announced that a two-month forensic investigation of laptops seized in a raid by Colombian security forces concluded they belonged to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)."

Now this is Hubris..."our father" who art in Havana

"Chavez considers Castro his political mentor and has succeeded the Cuban leader as the main opponent of the United States in Latin America. He called Castro "our father".

Now, that's Hubris. Then there's this...

"OPEC is anti-imperialist, anti-colonialist and a liberator for the development of our people in Latin America, Africa and Asia," he said.

OPEC as "liberator" of the poor. That's funny.

Then there's this in "democratic" Venezuela.

"The office of the prosecutor general has filed over 50 complaints against journalists although not for practicing journalism."

The problem was the journalists didn't support Hugo Chavez. enough according to this Marxist propaganda site.

"Many journalists claiming to be victims of persecution are also opposition activists who have used the media--apart from inciting to civil disorder and sabotage during the two coups--to attack public officials and military officers by making personal accusations based on confidential sources."

Tsk, tsk. Using the media to attack El Presidente Wannabe for Life.

Marxists never change, do they?

Richard:  They're not the only ones, eh Eliot?

Russian hubris strikes again

Michael de Angelos: "While they meddled endlessly in South America they at least kept up a front but their attacks upon Chavez (democratically elected) have been appaling."

So, it's okay by you, Michael, that NATO takes in a few more former Soviet Republics, then?

US hubris strikes again

Whatever happened to diplomacy in the US ?.

While they meddled endlessly in South America they at least kept up a front but their attacks upon Chavez (democratically elected) have been appaling.

What a combination - Venezuala and Russia. Between them they must have the lion's share of whatever oil is left on this planet.

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