The juxtaposition of events in Colombia and Venezuela give a compelling indication that Hugo Chavez has allied himself with FARC, the terrorist rebels just across his border. The day after the Columbians managed to kill FARC’s second in command, Chavez moved ten battalions to the border, threatening war against the US-allied government in Bogota, which he called “criminal”:
President Hugo Chavez on Sunday ordered 10 battalions of troops to the border with Colombia after Colombia’s military killed a top rebel leader.
Chavez told his defense minister: “move 10 battalions for me to the border with Colombia, immediately.” He also ordered the Venezuelan Embassy in Colombia closed and said all embassy personnel would be withdrawn.
The move threatens to bring the US into open conflict with Chavez for the first time. We have allied ourselves with the Colombian government to eradicate narco-traffickers as well as to help them eliminate the threat from FARC. The terrorist group still holds Americans, having kidnapped them years ago after a plane crash in territory under their control.
We saw a hint of this six weeks ago. Chavez demanded that Latin American nations recognize FARC (as well as a few other terrorist groups) as “legitimate armies” despite their track record of kidnapping and drug trafficking. As the Washington Post noted, even allies of Chavez balked at that notion. Now it looks as though Chavez will take Venezuela to war to support these terrorists, hoping to undermine President Alvaro Uribe and the democratic government in Colombia.
He’s taking his first steps to making himself a menace to the entire hemisphere rather than just to the Venezuelans.
If those battalions move across the border, Chavez had better expect a volley of cruise missiles at his command and control centers. The US will not allow Chavez to topple the elected government in Colombia. It would probably provide the only possible reason Washington would use military force against Chavez, and even this skeptical Congress would have little choice but to support the defense of an American ally under attack from a hostile nation.