Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Hugo Chavez channels Herman Wouk

Referring to a recent agreement between the U.S. and Colombia giving the U.S. access to some military bases in Colombia, Hugo Chavez has said that the arrangement could lead to war in South America. Speaking at a meeting of the Union of South American Nations in Ecuador, Chavez said that the "winds of war are beginning to blow" across the region, according to the BBC.

The U.S. is of course already giving Colombia a substantial amount of money and support to fight drug trafficking and the Farc -- indeed Colombia gets more U.S. 'aid' (defined broadly) than any other South American country by far -- and the Obama administration says that the agreement in question simply updates Plan Colombia, as the initiative was called when it was passed during the Bush administration. As in the case of U.S.-India relations, the Obama admin seems to be following the Bush admin's approach with respect to Colombia. Following the Bush lead on India makes sense, but the same is perhaps not true in the case of Colombia. There were many critics of Plan Colombia at the time of its launch, and my impression (although admittedly I have not followed it) is that its record is mixed at best. Be that as it may, Chavez's remarks are unnecessarily incendiary. Perhaps they will be discounted because of who uttered them, but no politician, regardless of ideology, should go around talking about the "winds of war" unless the situation realIy warrants it. The 'winds of war' was an o.k. title for Herman Wouk's WW2 epic novel, but that's about it.

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