June 25, 2007

Chavez Wants A Guerilla War Against The US

Under normal circumstances, Hugo Chavez would get diagnosed as a run-of-the-mill paranoid and treated with proper medication. Unfortunately, as dictator of Venezuela, the paranoia gets combined with oil revenues to produce real problems for the US, neighboring countries, and the Venezuelans themselves. Chavez has begun a spending spree on arms and now threatens to conduct a guerilla war against the US:

President Hugo Chavez urged soldiers on Sunday to prepare for a guerrilla-style war against the United States, saying that Washington is using psychological and economic warfare as part of an unconventional campaign aimed at derailing his government.

Dressed in olive green fatigues and a red beret, Chavez spoke inside Tiuna Fort — Venezuela's military nerve-center — before hundreds of uniformed soldiers standing alongside armored vehicles and tanks decorated with banners reading: "Fatherland, Socialism, or Death! We will triumph!"

"We must continue developing the resistance war, that's the anti-imperialist weapon. We must think and prepare for the resistance war everyday," said Chavez, who has repeatedly warned that American soldiers could invade Venezuela to seize control of the South American nation's immense oil reserves.

U.S. officials reject claims that Washington is considering a military attack. But the U.S. government has expressed concern over what it perceives as a significant arms build-up here.

The only development that could possibly cause us to make war against Venezuela would be an attack from Chavez on the US. No one here has any interest at all in storming Caracas for any reason. We don't need the land, and we don't need the hassle, and we have plenty of other sources for oil. The US could drill its own, higher-quality reserves before spending billions on a fight for Chavez' sulfuric crude.

Unfortunately, the increasing irrationality of Chavez may touch off a war regardless. The US and the rest of Latin America cannot help but wonder what a lunatic like Chavez might do with all of this military equipment he's buying. Chavez may be talking defense, but submarines are not a defensive weapon. They exist primarily to provide an attack force against surface fleets in open waters, and his consideration of those systems along with his other purchases indicates that he has something else in mind than just defending Venezuelan territory.

Like most other dictators, Chavez wants to stoke fears of war to keep people from rising up to depose him from power. He also wants to buy off the military to keep them from executing a coup d'etat. At some point, when Chavez has emptied the treasury in arming himself to the teeth, his credibility will fail unless he gets the war he's using to frighten Venezuelans now. That's when Chavez will be most dangerous, and Venezuelans will have to act before that moment arrives if they want to avoid the catastrophe that will follow.


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Comments (29)

Posted by johnnymozart | June 25, 2007 7:11 AM

Oh come on, Cap. Yes, he's been buying AK's, but the majority he's been spending on has been AirForce and other heavy equipment (like subnmarines). That tells me he's more afraid of his own people than of us. That, or he's stupid. (which come to think of it, is also a real possibility) If he were really worried about a war with the United States, one would think he wouldn't be buying things that he should know will be destroyed in the first 5 seconds of an actual war with the US. Stop buying into Chavez's propaganda. The thing that helps him the most is to be able to point to Americans worried about him and say "See?!?"

You can't fight an air war with the US. Or a sea war, submarines or no. Period. Not the Chinese, not the Indians, despite their recent successes in wargames, and certainly not the Venezuelans, half of whom were trained in the US, anyway.

No, there will be no war with El Commie Grande, despite the fevered imaginations of a few nuts.

Posted by jay | June 25, 2007 7:31 AM

There will not be a direct war with the US. But Hugo will keep blaming the US for his country's poverty and failed socialist agenda. He will then consider war with a neighbor that he will call a US puppet. Probably Columbia and if we have a Clinton or Obama in the Oval Office we will probably allow it to happen.
Just like Briton and France allowed the occupation of Czechoslavakia.

Posted by dad29 | June 25, 2007 7:39 AM

Seems to me that Hugo's being played by PRChina. He is a 'useful idiot' for them, and to a lesser degree for Fidel.

And he's expendable for them, too.

Posted by Bill | June 25, 2007 8:09 AM

Emitting a sound like you just turned the key on a Kenworth at a truck stop on the New Jersey Turnpike, a diesel powered submarines can be targeted by us, from anywhere in the world, the instant one hits the starter!

He’s buying them to influence the ignorant and the stupid!

Posted by Lew | June 25, 2007 8:16 AM

Hugo Chavez can spend all the money he can get his hands on, to buy conventional heavy war toys, but the only reasonable expectation he can raise is the ability to overawe his local neighbors. In the "power projection" game he can't even imagine what it takes to be a serious player.

If however, he could manage to unify a block of countries on the northern end of the continent and use his oil/drug money to acquire a nuclear device to then threaten Panama and its canal, he can in fact become someone who can no longer be ignored. Granted, that scenario is a long chain of long-shot events, it is difficult to imagine what exactly he has in mind for a long term objective. Except perhaps the retention of his status as "El Jefe" in the traditional Latin American image of Trujillo and Peron and Fidel and a whole sad parade of other cartoon characters.

Posted by daytrader | June 25, 2007 8:23 AM

By shutting down opposition media and playing his saber rattling, it is all for domestic consumption.

Odds are he is getting ready to do more damage to his own country and region than any US attack he envisions would.

If we are such a big bad bunch to him, why is he still selling us oil?

Posted by William | June 25, 2007 8:42 AM

If you recall the early days of submarine warfare, they were primarily used for coastal defense. MacArthur used them in the Phillipines for that reason. China's subs are currently best suited for defensive warfare in their own sphere of influence. I'm afraid some may be ignoring history and focusing on the aggresive German and American usage in WW 1 & 2, along with the Soviet usage during the Cold War. I believe Venezula is using them for coastal defense (against us) as well as possible special operations. Also, do not underestimate a diesel sub. They are very difficult to track and kill. The Navy has been using one from Sweden for ASW exercises for that very reason.

Posted by Govchance | June 25, 2007 8:52 AM

Heads up Hugo, incoming hot metal. Your time on the world stage is rapidly coming to an end. Your submarines, should you decide to send them north, would make good target practice. My guess is that at some point your fellow country men will get tired of your silliness and you will find the blade of a machete in your near vicinity.

Posted by The Yell | June 25, 2007 9:07 AM

Why point subs at ships capable of killing them? With modern antiship missles a submerged sub can engage targets over 20 miles away.

If tankers start vanishing in the Gulf of Mexico, who could prove anything?

If we lost just 1% of the oil shipped to our Gulf states for refining, what would it do to our fuel prices?

If our Gulf refineries only worked at capacity when escorted convoys got through, what would happen to our economy?

There's more than one way to skin a cat. And if a guy who threatens us, seeks the capability, we've got a problem.

Posted by Lew | June 25, 2007 9:07 AM

Using submarines for coastal defense may have extensive historical roots, but that same history has also shown no success at all in that role. No country that I know of has ever successfully defended its coast with a submarine campaign. History seems to clearly suggest that submarines are much better at offensive interdiction and attrition than coastal defense.

And yes, diesel subs aren't all underwater rattle-traps easily detected by even the crudest sonars, but even the quietest ones still have severe limitations when used in actual warfare. Their range is very limited and their oxygen consumption is horrendous.

More to the point however, is the fact that Venezuela has very little in the way of infrastructure to maintain or deploy or sustain or replace a squadron of submarines into any conceivable conflict with anyone larger than Bolivia. Consequently, I would think it fairly obvious that Hugo's purpose is "Shock and Awe" aimed at his neighbors. I can't imagine anyone else being terribly impressed.

Posted by Houston | June 25, 2007 9:09 AM

The only development that could possibly cause us to make war against Venezuela would be an attack from Chavez on the US.

Cap'n, unfortunately, this is probably exactly what Chavez is thinking. We need to be very careful here, and should probably indicate to him now, quietly and personally, that this is in fact not so. Any excursion by him and/or Fidel into any neighboring country should definately result in a response by us. Without any UN approval.

This is probably the only true deterrent we have with him anymore.

And lest anyone not realize, if Chavez acquires any current-generation diesel subs, the ability/experience/crews to operate them, and the weapons that go with them, that would pose a significant threat to the US.

Posted by Kojiro Vance | June 25, 2007 9:14 AM

Chavez can strut and squawk all he wants. In the end he needs markets for his oil more than we need his oil. Oil revenues account for nearly all of Venezuelan's income. The country has forgotten how to clothe or feed itself and uses its petrodollars to import everyting.

Venezuela heavily subsidises gasoline sales to its own citizens. They pay 25 cents a gallon for $2.25 gasoline at world market prices. A naval blockade of Venezuela would bring an end to Chavez in a matter of days - and he knows it. He needs the submarines in an attempt to prevent that, but there are other ways to thwart him. Had Chavez spent the last 8 years using oil revenues to diversify his economy rather than eliminating political opposition, free speech, and changing the constitution so that he can be president for life - things would be different.

Posted by Lightwave | June 25, 2007 9:40 AM

As long as he has the military happy with the equipment and the oil revenues to pay for it (if we shut him out, China will gladly buy the oil balance and then turn around and sell them more arms) he can rattle America's cage all he wants to.

We should be far more worried about the fact he's willing to crush dissent and take out opposition. Ed's right, we're not sure if he's just using Bush as a punching bag for his own press (worked for the Dems last year, eh?) or if he's truly dangerous.

Posted by David M | June 25, 2007 10:01 AM

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A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

Posted by MikeD | June 25, 2007 10:09 AM

If we really wanted to rid ourselves (and the hemisphere) of Hugo Chavez it could be done fairly quickly and easily. A Navy Seal or other black ops team could probably accomplish it summarily. The CIA (or some other agency mechanism), though it may presently have the capability (a very big IF), has neither the will nor the needed leadership. And if they did have this requisite direction their ineptitude would probably cause them to bungle the job and create an international embarrassment instead. (How about a team led by Joe Wilson?) The US will therefore continue to play "Giant Pussy of the North" and Hugo will continue being a little Hitler. Ultimately, maybe somebody in Venezuela will find the gumption our "intelligence" assets are unable to marshal. You get down to it and, really, it is primarily their problem.

Posted by docjim505 | June 25, 2007 10:13 AM

Dressed in olive green fatigues and a red beret, Chavez spoke inside Tiuna Fort — Venezuela's military nerve-center — before hundreds of uniformed soldiers standing alongside armored vehicles and tanks decorated with banners reading: "Fatherland, Socialism, or Death! We will triumph!"

I wonder what the average Venezuelan soldier thinks of this sort of thing. Do they buy into it or are they quietly rolling their eyes while hoping this moron doesn't get them into serious trouble?

Posted by BoWowBoy | June 25, 2007 11:24 AM

Do you think these Venezuelan freedom fighters ....will be coming across the Canadian border into the United States .......??

Posted by DirtCrashr | June 25, 2007 11:37 AM

"Fatherland, Socialism, or Death! We will triumph!" - Jeeze, it sounds just like a Munich beer-garden in 1930... It confounds me that so many Liberals and Progressives have no concept of the nature of Socialism beyond how it strokes their moral vanity for do-goodism.

Posted by Amaro Magenta | June 25, 2007 11:42 AM

Whenever I read a newsreport or blog that starts by calling Chavez a dictator, I just post and turn around. No sense in bothering my time with people who think are witty because they sing along the lines of State Dpt. fed propaganda.

Posted by Anthony (Los Angeles) | June 25, 2007 12:33 PM

Chavez is just using the US as a convenient whipping boy to justify purchasing his new toys. He's much more likely to get in a fight with Colombia, with whom he has very bad relations, or Guyana, on whose territory Venezuela has an ancient, albeit very weak, claim.

Posted by dave | June 25, 2007 1:05 PM

“The US and the rest of Latin America cannot help but wonder what a lunatic like Chavez might do with all of this military equipment he's buying…At some point, when Chavez has emptied the treasury in arming himself to the teeth…”

Sorry to bring up some more of those pesky facts, but military spending under Chavez has went down compared to what it was before his election. In the 8 years prior to Chavez getting elected, military spending averaged 1.619 billion dollars per year. In the 8 years since his election, it has averaged 1.445 billion (measured in constant dollars). As a percentage of GDP, military spending was at 1.60% of GDP before Chavez, and 1.37% after.
As a comparison, US defense spending is at 4.1% of GDP. This is three times higher than Venezuela’s spending. If Venezuela is “arming itself to the teeth”, what term would you use to describe US military spending?

Posted by KauaiBoy | June 25, 2007 1:24 PM

Chavez is nothing more than a low life, street thug and should be dealt with as such. If you run your mouth off about someone, you better be prepared to deal with the consequences. I agree with sending a competent force down there to bitch slap him and remind all commie lovers that we will destroy them and their threat to our way of life whether they be foreign or domestic.

Posted by Dave Hopkins | June 25, 2007 1:31 PM

If we learn anything over the past few years in dealing with Iran and North Korea, it should be that US private economic sanctions (non-UN) coupled with strong armed diplomacy (Bolton style) are very effective at dealing with rogue regimes. They make the additional US military muscle moves the "full court press" which opens these regimes up to internal revolt. Despite the current case with Cuba, eventually this strategy will win out. In the meantime, don't buy any Citgo gas. I know it hurts some US businesses to say this, but I don't want a dime to go to the Chavez regime.

Posted by swabjockey05 | June 25, 2007 3:53 PM


(and the shyster). A good diesel electric boat is indeed difficult to find when submerged...and yes making diplomatic port visits to his neighbors could cause some "awe". Kinda like the "awe" the little shyster feels every time he sees or reads anything about his hero Hugo (right before he touches himself). But one or two subs would have limited military usefulness.

How about non-military uses? Any bubbleheads want to elaborate on how many tons of bailed drugs can be ferried around in a 209? Would be pretty easy to pull up to any coast and flood a couple torpedo tubes full of bailed cocaine. The Go Fasts could already be positioned to pick up the floaters...just a thought.

Posted by patrick neid | June 25, 2007 4:50 PM

chavez, like mini me lil' kim in north korea, are strictly for entertainment value. in chavez's case my prediction stands. like many before him he will end up hanging from a lamp post in the town square, put there by his own people who will ultimately tire of the reruns.

until then we should just enjoy ourselves, witness to buffoonery on a global scale. usually you have to go to africa to find this stupidity. the russians have to be grinning ear to ear finding some loser to buy a few subs that they don't want........

Posted by dave | June 25, 2007 8:56 PM

“Emitting a sound like you just turned the key on a Kenworth at a truck stop on the New Jersey Turnpike, a diesel powered submarines can be targeted by us, from anywhere in the world, the instant one hits the starter! He’s buying them to influence the ignorant and the stupid!” -Bill

“The [Amur class] submarines boast noise level several times lower than that of the submarines reputed to be the world’s most silent to date.”


Posted by john_apple | June 25, 2007 10:10 PM

Diesel boats are much more serious than some here seem to recognize. They haven't lost any of the deadliness they had during the Battle of the Atlantic, but they have gained in sensors, weapons, and endurance. Make no mistake about it: if you are on a surface ship in waters with a submarine nearby, you are in deadly peril. Also, it doesn't take but one torpedo from a submarine to make an effective naval blockade simply because no one is willing to risk it.

That said, there are many people in various navies around the world, including the US Navy, that have been studying and planning for sub-on-sub dogfights for a long time. Chavez's subs won't last long if it gets down to that, several days or a couple of weeks at the most, if they are even stupid enough to go blue water.

I would say DBF, but I like comfort and survival, so I will stick with nuke boats.


Posted by geo rip | June 25, 2007 10:43 PM

It is interesting how history works. We'll have to wait and see who was right.....
Meanwhile there are some screamers out there saying global warming isn't real....I'd wager that a good percentage of this list is among them...The ones that are screaming so loudly, "Chavez isn't real!"......Still to early to see, but I still believe in Hugo's effort, Just like I believe that this country, the good ole USA, had better wake up to our own problems with international relations. Like we're some great, shining example of goodness and mercy, justice and honesty....BS

Posted by dave | June 26, 2007 7:40 AM

Anthony (Los Angeles):
“He's much more likely to get in a fight with Colombia, with whom he has very bad relations…”

Here’s a picture of Chavez and Uribe looking pretty chummy after they reached an agreement to build a 300 million dollar gas pipeline from Venezuela to Columbia:


Meanwhile, it’s US-Columbian relations that don’t look too great of late:

“Colombia's President Alvaro Uribe returned to Bogota this week in a state of shock. His three-day visit to Washington to win over Democrats in Congress was described by one American supporter as ‘catastrophic.’ Colombian sources said Uribe was stunned by the ferocity of his Democratic opponents, and Vice President Francisco Santos publicly talked about cutting U.S.-Colombian ties.”

Chicago Sun Times
May 10, 2007 Thursday
HEADLINE: Washington gives Colombian ally the cold shoulder
BYLINE: Robert Novak, The Chicago Sun-Times