Hugo Chavez, the yanqui-hating dictator of Venezuela, will not accept Washington’s proposed emissary and has dared the United States to break diplomatic relations. It seems Ambassador-select Larry Palmer’s sin is that he did not applaud Chavez when he used his rubber-stamp parliament to perpetuate his dictatorial regime. The State Department’s limp-wristed response was to cancel the visa of the Venezuelan ambassador. That, and silence from the White House, told the megalomaniac in Caracas exactly what the United States will do when Iran finishes building a nuclear missile base in Venezuela — absolutely nothing.
Like Marxist Fidel Castro was in the 1960s, Caudillo Chavez is today’s darling of American liberals and the international left. They are enchanted with his underclass roots, his anti-imperialist posturing, and insults he hurls at the United States in media shows that are crowd-pleasing combinations of Keith Olbermann rants and videos of “The Big Guy from Brooklyn.” More ominously, Chavez has imitated Castro, and like Fidel he has found a big brother to give him the nuclear military clout to dominate Latin America: The Islamic Republic of Iran.
Planning for Iran’s penetration of the Western Hemisphere is well underway. On November 25th, the respected German journal Die Welt published a report that Iran and Venezuela agreed on October 19th to build a joint military base. That complex will include medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs) like the Shahab-3 (range 1,200 miles) and Scud-B and Scud-C missiles (range 185-340 miles). Those weapons will enable Chavez to make missile strikes on much of South America, the Caribbean Basin and, with the Shahab-3, even American cities. Longer-range missiles being developed by Iran will threaten all of the United States when they are installed in Venezuela.
The missile base is part of a pattern that began in March 2009, when President Obama met Chavez at an Organization of American States meeting in Trinidad. President Obama shook hands with the dictator, as usual, and said he wanted to be friends and reset US-Venezuelan relations. Chavez responded by presenting Obama with a book that claims the United States plunders Latin America.
Later, in Lisbon in November 2010, NATO agreed to develop missile defenses to protect Europe from the East (meaning Iran). That sensible decision was the backdrop for new plans by Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to destroy the United States — his Great Satan — and for old plans by Chavez to dominate Latin America. The two autocrats would simply build a strategic rocket base in South America, the vulnerable underbelly of America! And then there is that tractor factory.
Iran has already built what it calls a “tractor factory” in Venezuela, the most heavily guarded and secret tractor factory in the world. The fenced compound is so secret that even Venezuelans are not allowed to enter it; only Iranians are allowed inside. (There are reports that Ahmadinejad visited the facility some months ago.) The factory is in a remote area, not far from a uranium deposit former Venezuelan officials estimate holds 50,000 tons of ore. Is it a stretch to connect the secret “tractor factory” and the uranium? It may be just smoke, but so much more is happening in Venezuela that one can only think there is fire, too. A few examples:
- In November 2008, Russia and Venezuela agreed on “cooperation in thermonuclear fusion” involving the same Russian company that built the Bushehr reactor in Iran: Atomstroyexport. Russia has kindly extended a $4 billion line of credit to Chavez.
- In October 2010, Russia agreed to build two 1,200-megawatt nuclear reactors and a research reactor.
- Russia needs a new customer for the SA-300 missiles Iran tried to buy to protect its nuclear program from air attack. Now Venezuela tells Russia that it likes the SA-300. Might those missiles slip into Iran through a Venezuelan back door?
- Iran uses Venezuela and other Latin American countries as havens for its terrorists. For months Hezbollah, Iran’s terror army, has metastasized across our undefended border with Mexico to set up sleeper cells in our cities. And now we learn a senior Hezbollah thug was appointed as Venezuela’s Deputy Chief of Mission to Syria?
So now it’s on our borders once again: two dictators who hate America, uranium, secret factories, and rocket bases. What is to be done?
In 1962 President John F. Kennedy blew the dust off the Monroe Doctrine. He saw Soviet and Cuban dictators building missile bases that threatened America, and he sent me and other airmen and sailors to Cuba to end that menace. We did it because President Kennedy’s resolve to protect the United States was firm and clear. The foreign menace was driven away.
My service in Cuba in 1962 gives me the standing to ask Mr. Obama a simple question: Why do you allow Iranian missiles to threaten our homeland?
Chet Nagle is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and the author of IRAN COVENANT.