While most of us are focused on Iraq, there is a disturbing scenario unfolding in South America. For a month there has been a national strike in Venezuela, touted as a, ‘middle class protest against a corrupt, left-wing regime.’
Little could be farther from the truth.The inequity between rich and poor in Venezuela is just a little larger than that in the US, where 13,000 Americans earn more than 22 million of their fellow countrymen. Venezuelan political history is full of such strife between Left and Right, with the Right (often getting covert support from the US) winning out.
President Hugo Chavez has tremendous support from the poor and disenfranchised. Like Salvador Allende in Chile during the 1970’s, he promised a ‘bloodless revolution’, to address the inequities between rich and poor. He also thumbed his nose at Mr Bush by inviting Fidel Castro to visit, and by visiting Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Not a wise move unless, of course, you supply 15% of the United State’s oil.
Venezuela’s oil power is a two-edged sword. If the US weren’t so caught up with Iraq and North Korea,Venezuela would be due for the kind of monkey business that caused the overthrow of Allende. However, Mr Bush has more pressing issues, at least for the near future.
If (or, perhaps when) we go to war with Iraq, we will loose more oil (yes, we’re Iraq’s biggest customer, accounting for 70% of its exports). So if the Venezuelan strike goes on, we will be losing more oil than OPEC can cover by extra production.This is the real Achilles heel for the US.
And, here’s another interesting set of facts. Our oil refineries on the Gulf coast are set up to take Mexican and Venezuelan crude. Switching over to crude oil from the Middle East takes about three weeks and costs many millions of dollars, which the oil companies are loathe to spend. And oil coming from the Middle East takes six weeks to arrive, while crude oil from Venezuela takes only a week.
According to some analysts, an oil shortage of this magnitude will result in a world- wide recession to rival the slump of the 1930’s… to say nothing of putting an end to the SUV craze.That might just be the one bright spot in this whole scenario!
Being a pacifist – and very much against going to war to satisfy the vendetta of a spoiled fraternity boy – I am much troubled by the Iraq question. Maybe we (the world community, not the lone US cowboy), should put an end to the regime of Saddam Hussein to avoid a real bloodbath in the future?
Ask yourself this question; if we could have stopped Hitler in 1935, would it not have been better than waiting until 1940? Surely, the regime of Saddam Hussein is as bad as Hitler’s? They have invaded other countries, gassed their own civilians, and done unspeakable things to maintain power. Given the chance they would do far greater harm to the world, and the policy of containment only seems to have prolonged their end goal.
For a country totally dependent on oil imports, like the USA, war could be serious. And the prospect of a global recession should certainly be considered when decided whether to go to war. But can we, as civilised people, not do more to avoid some of the mistakes we made in the last century? Can we really afford to let this regime of tyranny fester within its borders? Is the regime of Hussein a cancer that could spread? I’m damned if I have the answer, but I’m not sure I will let my antipathy for Mr Bush and his antics cloud the real picture.