Nobody with a passing acquaintance of the Obama administration's foreign policy, or the US's budgetary constraints, military capabilities, political realities or strategic interests could take such an idea seriously. There's so much that's wrongheaded and bizarre about the claim, there's very little point in even going through all the various reasons why it's simply not believable.
We need to be perfectly up-front about that as we dissect Hugo Chávez's claim that the recent US Military Agreement with Colombia (which does not open US military bases there and does not lead to a sharp spike in the presence of US military personnel there) is some kind of prelude to a US invasion of Venezuela.
Once we discard the pretext, I can think of two possible reasons why Chávez might react quite as strongly as he has to a stepped up US military presence in Colombia. It's one of two things. Either,
A- He's planning to do something drastic that fundamentally alters the US geostrategic calculus in the Andean region.The first possibility, while not quite impossible, strikes me as far-fetched. There is only one action Chávez could undertake that would alter the US geostrategic calculus sufficiently to make an invasion exit the realm of straight-out science fiction and enter that of strategic possibility: making a serious attempt to produce nuclear weapons.
B- The talk of invasions and cross-border wars is a rhetorical smokescreen: really, he's trying to help his allies in the Colombian conflict (hint: not the government.)
This is not impossible, and certainly Venezuela's otherwise-difficult-to-fathom alliance with the Ahmadinejad/Khamenei regime in Tehran should give us pause. Nonetheless, the technical barriers involved are massive, and the risks seem too big for anyone to face.
I think the much more likely scenario, therefore, is B-: the latest hissy fit about a gringo invasion is cover for an ulterior motive.
Lets review the bidding, here:
- Chávez's alliance with FARC is an open secret.
- Chávez arms FARC.
- Chávez allows FARC to use Venezuela as its rearguard.
- High ranking chavista officials aid FARC's narcotics operations.
That's - to put it mildly - an unrealistic aim. But within the bubble of hyperleftist lunacy Chávez has created around himself in Miraflores, the possibility of FARC eventually winning the war in Colombia and toppling the democratically elected government has obviously not been discarded. Indeed, it sure looks like this is Chávez's end-game for Colombia. And it's because that's Chávez's ultimate goal there that preventing any escalation of US involvement there is a priority.
In raising a stink about the recent military deal, Chávez is simply going to bat for an ally. Not at all unlike what he's tried to do for Zelaya in Honduras. His ally is threatened, so Hugo tries to use the power resources at his disposal to help out. No more, no less.
But, from the Colombian point of view, should the fact that your neighbors are allied with the narcoterrorists on your soil count as a reason to back down? I really don't see it.