Archive for the ‘Chavez’ Category

Russia sends ships to awe Venezuela

November 26, 2008

Russian warships sailed into port in Venezuela on Tuesday in a show of strength as Moscow seeks to counter U.S. influence in Latin America.

Russia’s first such deployment in the Caribbean since the Cold War is timed to coincide with President Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to Venezuela, the first ever by a Russian president.

By Christopher Toothaker, Associated Press

The flagship of Russia's Nothern Fleet, heavy nuclear missile ... 
The flagship of Russia’s Nothern Fleet, heavy nuclear missile cruiser “Pyotr Veliky” (Peter the Great) is seen at a mooring in Severomorsk not far from the city of Murmansk, in 2007. Russian warships approached Venezuela Monday for upcoming joint maneuvers — Moscow’s first military presence in the region since the Cold War — as Washington closely monitored the situation.(AFP/Alexander Nemenov)

Russian sailors dressed in black-and-white uniforms lined up along the bow of the destroyer Admiral Chabanenko as it docked in La Guaira, near Caracas, and Venezuelan troops greeted them with cannons in a 21-gun salute. Two support vessels also docked, and the nuclear-powered cruiser Peter the Great, Russia’s largest navy ship, anchored offshore.

Chavez, basking in the support of a powerful ally and traditional U.S. rival, wants Russian help to build a nuclear reactor, invest in oil and natural gas projects and bolster his leftist opposition to U.S. influence in the region.

He also wants weapons – Venezuela has bought more than $4 billion in Russian arms, including Sukhoi fighter jets, helicopters and 100,000 Kalashnikov rifles, and more deals for Russian tanks or other weaponry may be discussed after Medvedev arrives Wednesday.

Russia’s ambitions in Latin America, however, may be checked by global events. Both Venezuela and Russia are feeling the pinch of slumping oil prices, and their ability to be major benefactors for like-minded leaders is in doubt given the pressures of the world’s financial crisis.

The deployment of the naval squadron is widely seen as a demonstration of Kremlin anger over the U.S. decision to send warships to deliver aid to Georgia after its battles with Russia and over U.S. plans for a European missile-defense system.

But U.S. officials mocked the show of force.

“Are they accompanied by tugboats this time?” U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack joked to reporters in Washington. He noted that Russia’s navy is a shadow of its Soviet-era fleet.

Read the rest:
http://media.www.dailylobo.com/media/storage/paper344/news/20
08/11/26/News/Russia.Sends.Ships.To.Awe.Venezuela-3562172.shtml

Russia’s Medvedev Learned PR Skills from Hitler, Chavez, Khrushchev and Putin?

November 17, 2008

One has to ask, “Where is God’s name did Russian President Dmitry Medvedev learn his public relations skills?”  Well, there are several great role models: Russia’s Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev took his shoe off to bang the table at a “diplomatic” meeting.  Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, standing at the U.N. in New York City, called President Bush “El Diablo” (the Devil).  And we all know Adolph Hitler’s diplomatic and PR track record.  But Medvedev is a protégée of whom?  Vladimir Putin, if we recollect correctly….

By Vladimir Frolov
The Moscow Times

President Dmitry Medvedev’s first state-of-the-nation address raised a lot eyebrows abroad both by its content and tone. If the objective was to make people shake their heads in bewilderment, it succeeded beyond expectations. But if the intention was to send a reassuring message to the international community, it was a stunning failure.

It is hard to understand why, after so much preparation, Medvedev’s team managed to deliver such a disastrous act of public diplomacy.

The speech was purposely delayed to Nov. 5 to give Medvedev an opportunity to send a signal to President-elect Barack Obama several hours after his election victory was announced. Medvedev’s team deliberated for some time whether Medvedev should send Obama a warm, handwritten note or an impersonal diplomatic cable. They wound up sending him a public ultimatum on missile defense. “It was an almost caricature case of the Kremlin being tone-deaf,” said one prominent Russia analyst in the United States.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev speaks at the Washington Club ... 
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev speaks at the Washington Club in Washington, November 15, 2008. Medvedev visited Washington to attend the Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy on Saturday.REUTERS/Yuri Gripas (UNITED STATES)

If the intention was to signal the Kremlin’s willingness to re-engage the United States under the new administration, then the Iskander missile threat and the failure by Medvedev to immediately congratulate Obama directly was really dumb.

Medvedev’s clueless speech, filled with lots of U.S.-bashing, made it much more difficult for those on Obama’s team who argued that the relationship with Russia, badly bungled by the administration of President George W. Bush, needed the priority attention to be repaired.

Medvedev’s Iskander threat sounded like an attempt to publicly blackmail Obama out of missile-defense deployments in Poland and the Czech Republic. By laying down this marker, Medvedev unintentionally made it much more difficult for Obama to back down from the missile-defense deployments. To cancel the project now would be tantamount for him to buckling to Moscow’s pressure — something that U.S. presidents are not too fond of doing. Moreover, blackmailing a U.S. president-elect is not the best way to improve U.S.-Russian relations.

Russia's "Iskander" missile system on display ... 
Russia’s “Iskander” missile system on display at a military exhibition in the Siberian town of Nizhny Tagil in 2005. President Dmitry Medvedev has said Russia will place short-range missile systems on the EU’s eastern border to counter planned US missile defence installations in Eastern Europe.(AFP/VEDOMOSTI/File/Evgeny Stetsko)

Medvedev took a page right out of Soviet leader Yury Andropov’s book by threatening to place missiles on the country’s western borders. Many Russian specialists in Washington believe that Medvedev’s threats make him sound like President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

In a few months, Medvedev’s Kremlin will encounter a tightly knit and efficient Obama administration. Medvedev needs much better advice to hold his ground with Obama in public diplomacy. Right now he is clueless in Moscow.

Vladimir Frolov is president of LEFF Group, a government relations and PR company.

Related:
Russia’s Putin and the Great Deception

Venezuela’s Chavez Extends Greeting To “Black Man” Soon to be In White House

November 3, 2008

Anti-U.S. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez predicted on Sunday the “black man” will win the U.S. presidential race and offered to hold talks with him to improve ties between the superpower and one its biggest oil suppliers.

Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee who would be the first black U.S. president if he wins Tuesday’s election, said this year he would be open to dialogue with leaders like Chavez — a remark that was seized on by Republicans as naive.

McCain, who trails Obama in polls, has labeled Chavez a dictator.

Chavez, a socialist who has mocked President George W. Bush and calls ex-Cuban leader Fidel Castro his mentor, has said there is an inevitable clash between U.S. and Venezuelan interests, although he has at times offered to ease bilateral tensions.

“We are not asking him to be a revolutionary, to be a socialist — no,” Chavez said at a political rally. We just want the black man who is about to be the U.S. president to have enough stature for the times the world is living through.

“I send an overture to the black man, from us here, who are of Indigenous, black, Caribbean, South American race,” he said.

“I am ready to sit down and talk … I hope we can, and I hope we can enter a new stage,” he said later at another rally.

Most Latin Americans would prefer Obama to win the White House over Republican rival John McCain, according to polls. They have felt largely neglected by the Bush administration as the region swung to the left.

Chavez, who expelled the U.S. ambassador in September, urged Obama to end the Cuban embargo, withdraw troops from Iraq and stop what he called U.S. threats against Iran and Venezuela. (Reporting by Ana Isabel Martinez; Writing by Saul Hudson; Editing by Bill Trott, Reuters)

Why Obama Worries About Half the Electorate

October 18, 2008

Sadly, I find myself disappointed by both Senator Barack Obama and Senator John McCain and their presidential campaigns.  But I have a brother who says, “never watch football until the last two minutes.”

So now we are in the “two minute drill,” and today’s Zogby Poll says Obama leads McCain 48% to 44%.
Zogby October 18: Obama 48%; McCain 44%
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But many voters have expressed dismay, anger and even rage about this year’s election campaign.  “We are being taken for a ride my a pack of lies and a biased media,” one man wrote to us.  Others have complained about ACORN, Senator Obama’s friends and acquaintances including terrorist Bill Ayers and the Rev. Wright, McCain’s seemingly inept way of making his points, Sara Palin’s lack of “big city” experience and Joe Biden’s gaffes.  Here we will attempt to summarize many of these regrets and concerns and provoke additional thought and discussion….

Preadidential Election 2008: Obama and McCain
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The Media
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“Doesn’t the media have a responsibility to be unbiased and even handed about politics and politicians?” a voter asked us by email.

The answer is, journalism schools teach and preach honesty, integrity and the importance of unbiased and fair coverage.  But the teaching seems to be falling on deaf ears.

“Americans’ perception of the national media as too biased and too liberal have grown significantly over the past two decades. In less than twenty years, since the 1985 Times Mirror polls began routinely assessing the public’s perceptions of the national media, the percentage of Americans who perceive a liberal bias has doubled from 22 percent to 45 percent, nearly half the adult population. Even Democrats now generally regard the press as a liberal entity.”

The above is a news flash from 2008, right?  Hardly.  That paragraph came from a Media Research Center article entitled “The Liberal Media” written by Rich Noyes on June 30, 2004!

Noyes also wrote in 2004, “the gap between the media and the public has grown considerably. A dozen years later, the same research group — now the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press — found that ‘the American public is more critical of press practices, less enthusiastic about the news product and less appreciative of the watchdog role played by the news media than it was a dozen years ago when The People and The Press surveys were inaugurated.’”

So the so called “liberal media” is not new and is not a figment of your imagination: it is a reality.  What we at Peace and Freedom object to most is the seemingly total disregard for any attempt to be fair and unbiased as exemplified by MSNBC, NBC and The New York Times.  We noticed that as Senator McCain joked about Chris Matthews and the MSNBC and NBC bias at Thurday’s Alfred E. Smith dinner, NBC’s evening news host Brian Williams looked down into his lap — apparently in shame and avoiding the stares of McCain and the audience.  We also noted that when Senator Joe Biden decided to attack Joe the Plumber, the good Senator chose NBC as his medium, appearing to launch the attack on NBC’s “Today Show” and end ing the day on NBC with Jay Leno.

So the “biased and liberal media” is a fact of life and much of what they tell us needs to be taken with a grain of salt or thrown out all together.

Obama’s Acquaintances, Friends, and Race
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“Why is it that if anyone mentions Reverend Wright, Bill Ayers, ACORN, Louis Farrakhan and some of the other Obama friends and acquaintances he is attacked as a racist?”

This question came to us early in the campaign and continues to appear not daily but at least once or twice a week.

Remember when Sarah Palin made fun of Obama’s resume line trumpeting his experience as a “community organizer”?  Team Obama and their surrogates were all over her.  Mrs. Palin obviously didn’t understand the issues of the inner city, race and disenfranchised and under appreciated voters.

But recent revelations about ACORN (The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) seem to indicate that there is some segment of the “community organizer” community that shouldn’t be trusted or respected.  In fact, the FBI is investigating ACORN and there may be some significant lawbreaking, theft, fraud and scurrilous behavior among “community organizers.”

See:
ACORN Board of Directors Meet Amid Internal Lawsuit, $1M Embezzlement Caper, Leadership Struggle
and
ACORN Now Subject of Major FBI Probe

Questioning ACORN and other such organizations isn’t racism: it is something that makes sense and needs to be done, especially since the media has seemingly given ACORN and Mr. Obama a pass….

Senator Obama himself said a Special Prosecutor may be needed to look into ACORN’s activities.

How about Rev. Jeremiah Wright?  All we know is that his videotaped sermons looked anti-American, over the top, and inflammatory.  He even said “God damn America.”  And Senator Obama seemed to be oblivious to these comments, espoused weekly from the church pulpit where he went to “worship” for more than 20 years.

Supporters say that the Rev. Jeremiah Wright is misunderstood.
Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Said “God damn America”
during church sermon. Obama was a member of
the church and contributed money for some 20 years….

On Bill Ayers, a former FBI agent told us (my Dad was in the FBI) that he “wouldn’t shake the hand of an anti-American domestic terrorist like Bill Ayers.”  Mr. Obama considers Bill Ayers as a friend.

So, without belaboring the facts of Barack Obama’s friends and acquaintenances, we find a very troubling pattern of people in Barack Obam’s life: and the lack of honest men of principles and integrity we see in Senator McCain’s life.  And we know this a matter of opinion so decide for yourself….

See:
 Obama & McCain: Who’s Playing the Race Card?
and
What Kind Of Men Were With John McCain In The Hanoi Hilton? Men of Character….
and
 Chicago, Academics Defend Bill Ayers; Former FBI Agents Outraged
and 
Obama and ACORN: Relationship May Be More Extensive Than Candidate Says

Are the Candidates and Their Surrogates Truthful?

“Strapped to a polygraph on national TV, I would assert quite confidently that I would strongly condemn thuggish and criminal tactics by a candidate I supported. The ends do not justify the means for me and most other conservatives I know. I wish I believed the same were true for liberals, far too many of whom are deliberately turning their backs on the corruption defining Barack Obama’s campaign.”

The above paragraph is from David Limbaugh writing in The Washington Times on October 16, 2008.
See: Voters Can Still Wake Up: Corruption Defining Barack Obama’s Campaign

Clearly, as my email proves, liberals think McCain is a filthy liar and conservatives think the same of Obama.  What I look for is a patter.  Decide for yourself.

Legislative Record 

We do believe that John McCain has an incredible, even a unique record of legislative accomplishment.  The McCain Feingold Bill was a partnership with a liberal Democrat aimed at reforming the election donation process.

The Kennedy-McCain Immigration Bill was also a partnership of the conservative McCain with a liberal Democrat, Senator Ted Kennedy.

McCain is a legislative maverick, teaming with Democrats on issues of importance

 Mr. Obama’s state legislature record includes many “present” votes, which we see as an indication of a lack of integrity.  And as for his U.S. Senate record, he has been running toward the White House most of the time and not doing any lammaking.   So please point out one piece of U.S. Senate legislation sponsored by Mr. Obama.  And then, please show us one piece of U.S. Senate legislation Senator Obama co-sponsored with a member of the Republican Party…..

Taxes
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John McCain is a rather typical Ronald Reagan Republican on taxes: he believes that lower taxes stimulate growth so much that the loss of tax revenue due to tax cuts is outweighed by new jobs, growth and prosperity.

Senator Obama said to Joe the Plumber that he believes in income redistribution.  This again came up in the final presidential debate which earned Joe the Plumber an attack from Team Obama, including Joe Biden’s Today Show and Jay Leno assaults on NBC.  So, Team Obama attacked the messenger (the plumber) but has not denied the fact that the Obama tax plan is a socialist class warfare plan….But you decide…..

Plus, given the recent Wall Street and home mortgage disaster, we find it impossible to see how Mr. Obama can come up with the money to do all the things he promises, including tax relief, more money for health care, and additional funding for schools and education.  With me, Mr. Obama seems to have missed the fact that the U.S. owes China over one trillion dollars, owes the American people almost as much now due to the Bush bailout, and that the economic crash has greatly reduced planned-for tax revenues.  My state and county are tightening their spending belt — but Mr. Obama continues to promise huge federal spending increases and tax breaks.  I just do not believe anything he is saying in the economic and financial universe any more.  The situation Obama lived in when he created his give-away plan has changed: and what Mister Obama once promised to a people living in a prosperous nation has changed…. Ask any small business owner like my wife or any unemployed workers starting with the American union workers of the automotive work-force.

Foreign Policy
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“On the campaign trail, foreign policy appears to have all but disappeared as an issue in this race,” wrote Jonathan Marcus of the BBC this week.

Did anyone hear any of these topics discussed in depth during the final presidential debate?  I refer to China, Russia, Georgia, Pakistan, Darfur, Afghanistan, Venezuela, India, Georgia, Ossetia and on and on. 

The economic meltdown has just about pushed foreign policy out of the presidential campaign discussion.  And this is a grave mistake we as a nation may pay for in the future.

The President of the United States does not have any control lever to the economy under his desk, as far as we know, but he does have great singular influence and say over foreign policy.

Mr. McCain’s support for the “surge” in Iraq turned into a major success.  But instead of claiming credit for this foreign policy and military success, Mr. McCain seems to have become a victim of his own success.  Mister Foreign Policy experience has fallen into an Obama trap: lets talk solely about our domestic economy. 

All I remember about Senator Obama’s foreign policy platform are some ill advised remarks like that he would meet with President Ahmadinejad of Iran without preconditions.  Mr. Ahmadinejad, last I checked, is making a nuclear bomb and is on the record for saying he wanted to “wipe Israel from the map.”

But, because the economic mess is on everyone’s mind and Mr. Obama is promising to make us all rich, I suppose we don’t need to care about such people as Hugo Chavez, Vladimir Putin, Hu Jintao, President Ahmadinejad and other interesting folks on the world stage….But you decide….

See:
Iran’s Ahmadinejad Continues to Gloat About End of Godless America, Capitalism
and
Pakistan’s Zardari Asks China for Aid
and
How Foreign Policy Fell Off The U.S. Election Radar

Campaign Financing
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Here again we think Mr. McCain fell victim to what Muhammad Ali called the “rope a dope” tactics of a thoughtful, though often underhanded, campaign team.

McCain loves campaign finance reform partly because he wrote the McCain Feingold Campaign Reform Bill with his liberal Democrat friend Senator Feingold.  Obama once said he’d stick with the restrictions of McCain-Feingold  since Mr. McCain promised to stand with the restrictions but then Mr. Obama, at the last minute,  changed his mind — at the deadline and after Mr. McCain vowed to stick by the restrictions.

Now, we as a nation, are witnessing an almost limitless pile of cash owned by Mr. Obama attacking a pauper in the advertising realm: Mr. McCain.  This is great if you love Obama but it is not good for truth, honesty and America in our view.  All this money pollutes the environment with a one-sided advertising campaign which was already jeapordized by a biased, liberal media…..

But …you decide.

Vice Presidential Nominees

Was Sarah Palin really the best choice for a John McCain running mate?  Probably not.  She is a woman with executive experience.  But she is no Mitt Romney, who also has a wealth of executive experience and as a business executive, understands how to “create” wealth.

And Joe Biden?  Apparently he was chosen by Mr. Obama for his foreign policy experience.  But in the Senate he is known as a gaffe prone, long-winded buffoon.

See:
Joe Biden, Because He Has No Integrity, Demeans Himself By Attacking Joe the Plumber

Energy
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What I recall most is this: Obama is for wind.  McCain is for nuclear.

It is more complex than that but not a lot.  McCain wants to drill more and his campaign events along with those of Governor palin frequently feature the chant, “Drill, Baby, Drill.”  Obama warmed up to the idea of additional drilling only late in the game.

Mr. McCain mentioned at the last presidential debate that we need more nuclear power plants in the United States.  He said the U.S. Navy has been the master of nuclear power for more than 50 years.

The United States is lagging far behind many nations, including Britain and France, in clean nuclear electricity generation.  Russia is assisting Iran with a nuclear plant.  Just today, China announced that it will assist Pakistan with the construction of two nuclear sites.  The U.S. even recently made an agreement to assist India with nuclear power.  Yet our own domestic nuclear industry is not building new nuclear plants with any regularity or verve.

I can’t recall Mr. Obama ever saying “nuclear.”

I think Mr. McCain is on the right track on energy — but I appreciate Mr. Obama’s commitment to clean power too.

TaskForce One.jpg
Above: This photo, taken 1964, shows three of the U.S. Navy’s early nuclear powered surface combatants.  Today, all U.S. Navy aircraft carriers and submarines are nuclear powered.

Character

I feel like I know John McCain’s character, but I live with an immigrant wife who suffered similar torture and hardship.  McCain survived a very difficult time of prison and torture with distinction.  He’s been tested.  I like people who have been tested.

I do not know that Barack Obama has been tested.  He is a great talker but not a great “doer.”  A man of spoken great convictions, to me Barack Obama’s life is a mixture of avoidance, association with the wrong people and the avoidance of taking stands.  Barack Obama reminds me of the “Artful Dodger” from the in the Charles Dickens novel Oliver Twist.

New York Times writer Jodi Kantor researched the Obama record at the University of Chicago Law School.  On July 30, 2008, Jodi’s story appeared with the following included:

“I don’t think anything that went on in these chambers affected him,” said Richard Epstein, a libertarian colleague who says he longed for Mr. Obama to venture beyond his ideological and topical comfort zones. “His entire life, as best I can tell, is one in which he’s always been a thoughtful listener and questioner, but he’s never stepped up to the plate and taken full swings.”

I prefer, especially in the White House, men that take full swings.

In short and in closing, we consider this a very troubling election campaign that Senator Obama, for good or bad, will likely win.  And it seems as if the Senate and the House of Representatives will see an increased number of Democratic legislators.  A predominantly Democratic House, Senate and a White House occupied by a Democrat at the same time is not good for Americans in our view, but we trust the American voter…..

Russia-Venezuela military exercises and drills set

October 14, 2008

By Martin Arostegui
The Washington Times
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A Russian fleet sailing toward the Caribbean for military exercises with Venezuela‘s navy next month reflects a chill in Russia-U.S. relations, though analysts are divided on whether the drill represents a threat to U.S. interests or is merely a demonstration to embarrass Washington.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says the drill seals Venezuela’s “strategic alliance with Russia,” which he announced during a recent visit to Moscow, in which he signed billions of dollars worth of arms deals.

The exercises, led by flagship Peter the Great, will mark Russia’s largest naval deployment to the Caribbean in more than 20 years.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES A Russian warship bound for Venezuela docks at the Libyan port of Tripoli on Saturday. Russian fleets training with Venezuela

Above: A Russian warship bound for Venezuela docks at the Libyan port of Tripoli on Saturday. Russian fleets training with Venezuela’s navy will mark Russia’s largest deployment to the Caribbean in more than 20 years. Photo: AFP/Getty

Like Cuba’s Fidel Castro, much of Mr. Chavez’s political career has been based on his opposition to the United States.

On Russia’s end, many analysts see the move as a face-saving payback for U.S. naval deployments around the Black Sea to show support for Georgia in its conflict with Moscow that led to a brief war in August.

U.S. Navy ships were used to bring food, medicine and other relief supplies to Georgia while keeping their distance from the Russian fleet.

The Pyotr Velikiy, Peter the Great, Russian nuclear-powered ...
The Pyotr Velikiy, Peter the Great, Russian nuclear-powered missile cruiser seen in the Barents Sea, Russia, , Russia, in this July, 2004, file photo. The Peter the Great cruiser accompanied by three other ships of Russia’s Northern Fleet was to sail from their base in Severomorsk Sunday on a cruise which will include a joint exercise with the Venezuelan Navy, Russian Navy spokesman Igor Dygalo said on Vesti 24 television.(AP Photo/File)

Still, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned that Russia would respond to the deployment in an unspecified manner and with “calm.”

U.S. officials have dismissed the Russian maneuvers as insignificant….

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/
oct/14/russia-venezuela-drills-set/

Medvedev calls for Russian missile shield

September 27, 2008

ORENBURG, Russia, Sept. 27 (UPI) — Russian President Dmitry Medvedev says his country needs to create its own anti-missile nuclear defense shield and is calling for “permanent readiness.”

 

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (R) awards an officer during ... 
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (R) awards an officer during military exercises at the Donguz testing range near Orenburg, some 1300 kilometers (807 miles) southeast of Moscow September 26, 2008. Russia said on Friday it would build a space defence system and a new fleet of nuclear submarines by 2020, beefing up its nuclear deterrent at a time of heightened tensions with Washington. Picture taken September 26, 2008.REUTERS/Pool (RUSSIA)

Medvedev, responding to U.S. moves to establish an anti-missile shield in Eastern Europe, said Friday during military exercises in the southern Urals region of Orenburg that “a guaranteed nuclear deterrent system for various military and political circumstances must be provided by 2020,” The Times of London reported.

Medvedev also called for Russia to reorganize its military, saying “all combat formations must be upgraded to the permanent readiness category” by 2020, an effort that would include “mass production of warships, primarily nuclear cruisers carrying cruise missiles and multi-purpose submarines,” The Times said.

Also attending the Orenburg exercises was Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, whose country conducted joint naval exercises in the Caribbean Sea this week with Russian warships.

The Kremlin issued a statement calling the maneuvers a “counterweight to U.S. influence,” and adding that Chavez was seeking “a widening of our presence in the region.”

The Latin Crisis

March 24, 2008

By Kay Bailey Hutchison
The Washington Times
March 24, 2008

This month Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez opened the next phase of his dangerous political career by nearly provoking a war with Colombia. In the aftermath of his military threats, the Colombian government learned disturbing information about the relationship between Mr. Chavez and the terrorist group FARC — the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
Hugo Chávez
Hugo Chavez called President Bush
“El Diablo” or the devil while addressing
the United Nations….

In light of those revelations, and their implications for U.S. national security, perhaps it is time the Bush administration placed Venezuela on the list of state sponsors of terrorism.
On March 1, the Colombian military retaliated against numerous unprovoked FARC attacks in their territory and struck one of their clandestine camps — in Ecuador, killing one of the organization’s top leaders. FARC, a formerly Soviet-backed insurgency, today makes a living off international kidnapping, drug trafficking and terrorism. It still holds hundreds of hostages for ransom, including American missionaries and a former Colombian presidential candidate. It has been designated as one of the world’s leading terrorist organizations by the State Department.
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In the days after the raid, Colombia uncovered e-mails in which FARC operatives reported, after meeting with Mr. Chavez, that significant financial support and even munitions would be forthcoming from the Chavez government. Evidence suggests Venezuela may have provided as much as $300 million to FARC since Mr. Chavez came to power.
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If indeed Venezuela has provided money, weapons and other logistical or diplomatic support to FARC, it is guilty of supporting terrorism, a grievous violation of international law. In the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the United Nations Security Council reaffirmed the obligation of all states to refrain from assisting terrorists or tolerating their presence inside the country. The United States does not distinguish between terrorists and those who harbor them and support them — and neither should any of our allies.
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Venezuela must now be held accountable for its descent into a terrorist haven, and Ecuador should not protest when free countries, like Colombia, step across boundaries to protect innocent lives from plotting terrorists. On March 17, when the Organization of American States held its summit in Washington, it missed an opportunity to take a strong stand against terrorism and instead passed a resolution condemning Colombia’s actions in self-defense.
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While imposing additional sanctions on Venezuela could cause adverse short-term economic consequences, Mr. Chavez needs us more than we need him. Venezuelan oil has an extremely high-sulfur content, which requires special refineries to turn it into gasoline. Most of those refineries are in the Southern U.S. along the Gulf Coast. In short, Venezuela would have a very hard time finding other buyers if it loses its most important customer.
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And with the increased willingness of Venezuela’s military to stand up to Mr. Chavez — not to mention his sinking popularity among the public — the United States is one customer Mr. Chavez can’t afford to lose.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080324/COMMENTARY/727732491

War Drums in Latin America

March 4, 2008
By TIM PADGETT
Time Magazine 

Few world leaders rattle a saber as flamboyantly as Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez does.

Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías
Hugo Chávez

On Sunday, in a piece of vintage Chavez theater, he ordered thousands of troops and tanks to the border with Colombia after that country’s military had ventured a mile into Ecuador on Saturday to kill Raul Reyes, a top commander of Colombia’s FARC guerrillas.
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The left-wing Chavez called conservative Colombian President Alvaro Uribe a “criminal” and a “lapdog of the U.S. empire,” warning ominously that “this could be the start of a war in South America.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20080304/wl_time/
wardrumsinlatinamerica;_ylt=ApaoBzVvTy9ZH1UoUVR9dtGs0NUE

National Intelligance Estimate: Incomplete Snapshot?

December 18, 2007

NIE in the sky?
By James Zumwalt
The Washington Times
December 18, 2007

With the recent publication of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) suggesting Iran may have halted work on its nuclear weapons capability in 2003, we recalled the intelligence reporting received in 1991 as we prepared to advance into Kuwait during Desert Storm.

Assessments made it clear a formidable Iraqi army stood between us and our objective. Aerial photos revealed massive networks of bunkers.

Intelligence, from an array of other sources, supported the assessment thousands of enemy soldiers occupied the networks. But one very important intelligence input was missing from the assessment — human intelligence or “humint.” Absent the benefit of human eyes and ears on the ground, i.e., an observer, spy or defector providing timely,
subjective information, we lacked good intelligence on enemy troop levels, willingness to fight, their ability to fight, etc. Advancing into Kuwait, we encountered little resistance.

Unbeknownst to the analysts, many Iraqi soldiers deserted under cover of darkness. What Saddam Hussein predicted would be the “mother of all battles” became the mother of all defeats as U.S. ground forces routed the Iraqis in four days.

The science of analyzing intelligence is imperfect. Like modern art, it is subject to personal interpretation. At times, intelligence can provide clear evidence of enemy intent. In the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, it proved most embarrassing for the Soviet ambassador, after
being called in by the U.S. State Department and denying the presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba, to be shown indisputable evidence of same in aerial photographs.

Edging toward war, Washington remained steadfastly firm, forcing Moscow to back down and remove the missiles.

Only later did we discover such U.S. steadfastness was the result of critical humint fed to Washington by a Soviet spy inside the Kremlin, thus providing Washington with a decided edge throughout the crisis.

In the Desert Storm example, no humint was available to indicate enemy levels and intentions; in the Cuban missile crisis example, enemy intentions were clear. Thus, intelligence assessments become a balancing act of trying to determine what elements should be given more weight and which should receive less.

Sometimes analysts give humint the wrong weight. In December 1941, as the Japanese navy silently approached Pearl Harbor bent on war-making, analysts felt war was not imminent, giving greater weight to the words and actions of Japanese diplomats in Washington they believed to be bent on peacemaking. Thus, even when humint is available, intelligence analysis is seldom perfect.

There are several reasons for concern about NIE’s about-face on Iran’s nuclear weapons capability.

The assessment appears to have been triggered primarily by recent humint input. Worrisome is the weight given to what may well be a counter-intelligence effort by Tehran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The humint relied upon is a claim by senior IRGC official Ali Rez Asgari who defected during a February trip to Turkey. Mr.
Asgari told a foreign intelligence agency all activity on Iran’s nuclear weapons program stopped four years ago. His claim purported was supported by intercepted communications among Iranian officials.

Such information needs to be carefully scrutinized as we have learned
some lessons from the Cold War. We now know “critically timed”
defections as well as intercepted communications within a targeted
country could conceivably be a counter-intelligence initiative. The
Iranians are well aware of Moscow’s successful use in the past of
double agents — Soviet spies who defected to the West only to further
U.S.S.R. objectives in obfuscating Moscow’s sinister intent.

The role of one such Soviet double agent, Yuri Noshenko, remains a
mystery. His timely defection to the United States, shortly after
President Kennedy’s assassination as the Warren Commission began
investigating whether accused killer Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, has
long been cited as a disinformation effort to divert suspicion from
Moscow. While claiming coincidentally to have just reviewed the KGB’s
files on Oswald, who visited the U.S.S.R. prior to the assassination,
he said he found no evidence of Soviet complicity. Yet Noshenko later
failed two polygraph exams.

Surprisingly, the commission accepted the humint, finding Oswald did
act alone. Some critics believe the failed polygraphs cast questionable
light on the timing of Noshenko’s defection. Likewise, the timing of
Mr. Asgari’s defection must be questioned, coming at a time the
Iranians realized even America’s European allies were losing patience
with Tehran and considering more severe economic sanctions. Blindly
accepting Asgari’s claim is a “pie in the sky” approach to NIE
analysis.

There are also major concerns about the experience and motivation of the U.S. analysts involved. Newsmax reports it was prepared by inexperienced State Department political and intelligence analysts who, as Democratic Party activists, politicized the assessment. Thus, it was either their political leanings or their inexperience that resulted in
several shortcomings in the NIE.

First, they relied upon humint unvetted by U.S. intelligence agencies.

Second, as pointed out by Iran expert Alireza Jafarzadeh, they failed to focus on actions of the IRGC — the military arm created in Iran by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1979 to safeguard and export the Islamic Revolution. Mr. Jafarzadeh, who first revealed the existence of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, reports the IRGC holds the keys to the
country’s nuclear weapons program. IRGC leaders who are also nuclear scientists, in collaboration with Iranian universities, are fully committed to achieving what they believe is Tehran’s religious mandate to be so armed.

Yet the NIE makes little mention of the IRGC. Third, the acceptance of Mr. Asgari’s claims Iran’s nuclear weapons program ceased in 2003 conflicts with Iranian purchases two years later of 18 North Korean BM-25 long range, land-mobile missiles that are used to carry nuclear warheads.

A post-report concern is the effort just this month by Iran to secretly obtain uranium from Bolivia, through the good offices of Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a dedicated follower of Khomeini and believes in the ayatollah’s assertion, “Islam makes it incumbent [for believers] to prepare for the conquest of countries so that the writ of Islam is obeyed in every country of the world … [by fulfilling Islam’s mandate to] kill all unbelievers.”

Devout believer Mr. Ahmadinejad has made clear, several times, his intention to wipe the U.S. and Israel off the map. So there should be no doubt his intentions remain focused on obtaining nuclear weaponry with which to make good on his threat.

Against this backdrop of declared Iranian intentions to destroy us, of past questionable U.S. intelligence assessments, of the timing of Mr. Asgari’s defection, of the inexperience and motivations of the analysts, can we afford to put the world at risk by blindly accepting
it? Previously, the U.S. was able to bounce back following flawed intelligence assessments.
But that will not be the case if we are wrong about Iran.

Therefore, the only assessment we can afford to accept is one obtained via verifiable inspection of a nuclear weapons development program Tehran keeps hidden deep beneath the Earth’s surface, while claiming peaceful intent.

James G. Zumwalt, a Marine veteran of the Persian Gulf and Vietnam
wars, is a contributor to The Washington Times.

Related:
National Intelligence Estimate 101

Chavez Loses Constitutional Vote

December 3, 2007

By IAN JAMES The Associated Press
Monday, December 3, 2007; 1:13 AM

CARACAS, Venezuela — President Hugo Chavez suffered a stunning defeat Monday in a referendum that would have let him run for re-election indefinitely and impose a socialist system in this major U.S. oil provider.
Rallies are in held in Caracas, Venezuela, by opponents and supporters of President Hugo Chávez. If passed, the Dec. 2, 2007, referendum would expand Chávez's powers and remove limits on how long he can serve in office. 

Voters defeated the sweeping measures Sunday by a vote of 51 percent to 49 percent, said Tibisay Lucena, chief of the National Electoral Council, with voter turnout at just 56 percent.
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, left, takes a moment before voting at a polling station in Caracas, Dec. 2, 2007. Venezuelans went to the polls Sunday in a referendum, called by Chavez's government, on major changes to their constitution, including removing presidential term limits and expanding presidential powers. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano) 

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