So, I get up this afternoon (late night last night, remember?) and start catching up on e-mails, cards and greetings, and the news. On the MSNBC page is this little tidbit of information: “Russia May Base Bombers In Cuba; Venezuela Also Temporarily Offers Island Site As Moscow Eyes Caribbean” Happy Birthday, indeed!
Well, Joe…you called it; the President now has his first “official test” and it doesn’t come from some two-bit dictatorship or a bunch of radical religious extremists. It comes from an ex-Superpower who wants to get back into the game DESPERATELY, a make-believe President whose strings are being pulled by the former one (and current PM), and that very same Prime Minister who used to be a member of the KGB and would love nothing more than a return to the good old days. Don’t just shrug this one off as posturing Ladies and Gentlemen, because this is much more serious than the media would have you believe. You have a few things that make this a very dangerous situation:
The Monroe Doctrine, for starters. James Monroe over 200 years ago pretty much declared “our” sphere of influence and “our” hemisphere off limits to foreign intervention and interests. It was the first, bold, and VERY brash policy statement of the young Republic; and up until 1962, no serious breach of that protocol has ever transpired. The Cuban Missile Crisis was the first legitimate test of the Monroe Doctrine, and that pretty much ended with the Soviet Union going back with its tail tucked between its legs. We DID guarantee Cuba’s autonomy, and a promise not to invade it in exchange for the Soviets promising not to stage any bombers or missiles in Cuba. So here you have a contract and a doctrine in place that keeps the peace.
Next up is NATO. We’ve been allowing the former Eastern Bloc nations (that once provided a “buffer” for the Soviet Union during the Cold War) to join NATO. In yet another piece of Foreign Policy brilliance, the Bush Administration decided that it would ask Poland (of all countries!) to house an “Anti-Ballistic Missile System” aimed at preventing any warheads from Iran (should there BE any) from reaching Europe. It could also be used to attack the Russians if need be, despite its so-called “defensive” posturing. We have hundreds of warheads on American soil that can be called “defense” too…so if I were the Russians, I’d be just a tad upset at this prospect. The Obama Administration has offered to talk to the Russians about this situation in exchange for their cooperation in preventing Iran from obtaining The Bomb. Either those talks didn’t go well, or the Russians are upping the ante by trying to do to us what we are trying to do to them.
The Wild Card in all of this is Hugo Chavez. Just what the hell does he want? He has a lot of power given his vast oil reserves, he’s also looking to fill a void that will be left when Fidel Castro dies. Raul Castro is also looking perhaps to stave off any regime change by the US when his brother is 6 feet under. So between these two guys, they are more than happy to invite the Russian Bear in for a visit…a long one. The confluence of all of these factors puts Obama in a very un-winnable situation. He can work through Diplomatic channels so that this doesn’t happen at all and no one loses face (obviously the preferred route), withdraw the missiles from Poland (which can’t happen WITHOUT losing face unless the Russians agree to help with Iran AND withdraw their Cuban Plans), or bomb the base in Venezuela where the Russian Bombers would be temporarily headquartered.
There is only one option he can take NOW that shows the US resolve to protect its sphere of influence, and show that it will protect its citizens at any cost: BOMB THE VENEZUELAN AIR BASE NOW BEFORE ANY RUSSIANS ARRIVE…NOW BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE.
With that base taken out of the picture, it will at least make the Russians think twice before going into Cuba. The Russians cannot bomb Poland in retaliation without starting a major war with the United States and the rest of NATO. Chavez can scream bloody murder all he wants and threaten to (or actually) cut off the oil to the US…but it will do him no good, because we’ll just have to go in and ensure that the oil keeps flowing…by a very nicely timed coup or assassination attempt by the CIA, or military action. Who the hell is going to stop us in our hemisphere? Who the hell is going to stop America from protecting itself and its shores from a very real and tangible thread that can be seen, felt, and touched on our doorstep?
It’s extremely rare that I sound like a Right-winger, but on this point there can be no compromise. Mr President, bomb that Venezuelan air base NOW while we still can and take a lot of the other options off the Russian’s plate. It will at least give us time to negotiate with the Russians from a position of strength about missiles in Poland and bombers in Cuba, rather than the reverse.
“When you are skinning your customers, you should leave some skin on to heal, so that you can skin them again.” – Nikita Khrushchev