Thursday, August 12, 2004

Before the invasion of Iraq, I observed that's not as if Cheney and Rumsfeld are just Bush I retreads trying to redo the Gulf War. It's important to remember they're older than that. They are, in fact, Nixon administration retreads trying to redo Vietnam --- a war where technical superiority and early large set-piece victories (the lonesome cry of the cold war hawk: "The Tet offensive was a military defeat for the Viet Cong!") didn't exactly prefigure success...

Fast forward to today. As Venezuela prepares to vote on the future of its President, Hugo Chavez, rumors are swirling. And oddly enough, the most extreme have the U.S. planning covert action, based on a transplant of the Vietnam-era domino theory, with Chavez and Castro in the unlikely roles of Ho and Mao (or whoever was supposed to be backing the Viet Cong... was it Brezhnev? I forget), preparing to topple the governments of Bolivia, Colombia and Peru to create a "Latin American socialist superstate."

But fear not! Fortunately, on examination by cooler heads, these prove to be mere contingency plans "based on rumors circulating in the anti-Chavez camp" -- who are of course completely independent of the U.S. government and would not be toeing a U.S. line. Fortunately for the oil industry at any rate, because for the moment at least, ironically enough, they'd rather keep Chavez:

"Winning the referendum would be more constructive to stability in the oil markets in the short term because the markets know what they have," said Lawrence Goldstein, president of the Petroleum Industry Research Foundation, a New York-based research group. "There would be a continuity in policy. It's better than uncertainty." ...

"Chavez has become more and more open about his animosity toward the United States," said Antonio Szabo, a former executive at the state oil company here, Petroleos de Venezuela, and now chief executive of Stone Bond Technologies, a Houston software and energy consulting firm. "But he has shown no animosity toward the companies."

More: A fuller translation of the El Mundo article from Spain which started this all off is here (via Kevin Drum).


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