January 26, 2006

The Big Hegemon that Couldn't

The whole idea that the US is planning to invade Venezuela is so asenine, so aggressively divorced from reality, it hardly seems worth the effort to rebut it. Fact is, though, that this old Fidelista standby has become a cornerstone of chavista propaganda, and I suppose it's not impossible some people stumbling on this blog might buy it.

Probably what irks me the most about it, though, is the way Chavez exploits the ignorance of his supporters to hype up the "threat" of a gringo attack. Anyone with the least sense of the US's strategic stance knows it's hogwash - pretending otherwise can only be seen as rank manipulation.

How far-fetched is the gringo-attack hypothesis? Lets see. It's not just that Venezuela ranks far down on the list of strategic threats facing the US - queuing up a looooong way behind North Korea, Iran, Al Qaeda, Syria, threats that really do keep US strategic planners up at night - it's that the US hardly has the military capability to sustain its current foreign entanglements, much less launch new ones, much, much, much less launch new ones against a third tier nuisance-state. And that's not just me saying it:
A report commissioned by Democratic members of Congress listed former Defence Secretary William Perry and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright among its authors, predicted problems recruiting new troops and retaining current ones in the face of repeated overseas tours and shortfalls in vital equipment.

It accused the Bush administration of having failed adequately to assess the size of force and equipment needed in post-invasion Iraq, creating "a real risk of 'breaking the force'."

The report also warned that the lack of a credible strategic reserve "increases the risk that potential adversaries will be tempted to challenge the United States".

A second study, conducted for the Pentagon by military expert Andrew Krepinevich, suggested that the military at its current rate of deployment might not be able to outlast the insurgency in Iraq.

He cited the problems experienced by the army in meeting its recruitment targets last year.

The BBC's Adam Brookes in Washington says the reports echo the view held by some in Congress and even by some within the armed forces.

They fear that if the Iraq commitment lasts a great deal longer, or if the US is drawn into new conflict, the US armed forces could find it difficult to meet their commitments.