Until now, the United States certainly has had a concern over Iranian penetration in South America, and not just in Venezuela. One reason why Donald Trump adopted the “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran was to curtail its global ambitions against the West, especially in energy-rich areas. Most of the attention from the media fell on the immediate region around Iran, such as the “land bridge” strategy through Syria to the Mediterranean and the encirclement strategy against the Saudis with Hezbollah and the Houthis.

However, Iran has long tried a similar diplomatic/economic/political encirclement strategy against the US in South America. They conducted a terrorist attack against Jews in Argentina and penetrated the Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner government to cover it up, for instance. And their attempts to boost the Chavez-Maduro regime have been known well enough, including a recent attempt to ship refined gasoline to the collapsed socialist state. But a Venezuelan bishop sends out a warning that Iran’s military is attempting something else entirely:

According to one Venezuelan bishop, the world should be concerned by the growing military presence of Iran in his country.

This presence, Bishop Mario Moronta of San Cristobal argued, is not based on an interest in the Venezuela’s mineral resources but is part of an effort to establish a geopolitical base.

In a letter published earlier this week, Moronta warns that, “far from what many think, the Iranians are not as interested – as other nations are – in Venezuelan resources (certainly there is an interest here);” instead, what encouraged this Middle Eastern country to do business with this South American nation is the possibility of “penetrating” Venezuela to “establish a strategic base, geopolitical in nature.”

The prelate begins his letter by saying that he’s made this warning to the Venezuelan bishops’ conference, but thus far, he’s been mostly ignored by bishops and experts alike, who are more worried about the presence of Cuban intelligence agents in the country.

“I pointed out the same thing in various forums and meetings and almost no one paid any attention to me,” he writes. “Only one professor and sociologist known to many heeded this, warning at the same time of the risk of allowing the presence of a process of ‘Islamization’ in the nation to be easily overlooked.”

The threat of “Islamization” might be overblown, but the military base shouldn’t be overlooked. This is precisely why the US enforced the Monroe Doctrine for almost two centuries in the Western Hemisphere. That fell out of favor after the Cold War and especially during the Obama administration, but it’s just as important now as it ever was — especially with Iran being the top terror-sponsoring state and aspiring to nuclear weapons.

Short of war, the best way to curtail that is to choke Iran’s economy to the point where it can no longer afford this kind of adventurism. That means keeping oil cheap and blocking as much trade as possible with Iran until the mullahs either behave properly or get replaced by the Iranians. Joe Lieberman told Fox Business Network that the US has been on the right path in putting “maximum pressure” on the Iranian regime. The former Democratic VP candidate says he worries that Joe Biden will let the mullahs off the hook:

“I supported Joe Biden but, I must say, and I look forward to his presidency, but, I must say that I am concerned about this one area in policy toward Iran because the Iran nuclear agreement which the Obama administration negotiated, I think, was a terrible mistake,” Lieberman told FOX Business’ “Mornings with Maria.”

Lieberman said that the United States would be “much better being out of” the Iran Nuclear Deal and “putting maximum economic pressure on Iran.”

“Without this, I don’t believe that the Arab countries and Israel would have had the courage to enter into these remarkable new accords: Israel and the Emirates, Bahrain, and Sudan. These are real peace agreements that are taking shape, and, if the Biden administration rushes back into negotiations with Iran and lets them off easy, we’re going to slide back into a much worse time,” Lieberman said.

It’s not just a change in policy back toward the Iran deal that will embolden and enrich Iran on this trajectory. The hostility toward US energy production by the incoming administration will result in the US once again becoming dependent on foreign oil, forcing prices back up in a way that benefits Iran (and Russia, for that matter) and giving the mullahs more power and resources for their global ambitions. It would almost literally invite Iran to keep building its military on our doorstep.

And just who does Iran have in mind with that military presence? It ain’t “the little Satan,” that’s for sure.