Coming to a Neighborhood NearYou: The Axis of Evil

ByKenneth R.Timmerman
|December 8, 2006

The unsurprising victory ofVenezuelan song and dance artist Hugo Chavez in his re-election bidon Sunday was warmly welcomed around theworld.

Chavez friends in Cuba,Bolivia and Nicaragua were pleased. Castro and Daniel Ortega mustthink someone flipped a switch and they’re back in the early1980s – only this time, there’s no President Reagan andno Contras.

The Iranian Foreign ministry welcomed the Chavez victory, and didn’teven threaten to raise oil prices to $200 per barrel. That’sfor next week.

Al Jazeera knew the results even before the votes were cast, and
showedChavez with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iranearlier this year, rigged out in orange hard hats, the best ofbuddies.

“If the North American empire and its lackeys attempt anothercoup, or don't acknowledge the electoral outcome, we will not sendthem one more drop of oil," al Jazeera quoted al Jefe as saying.

Oil is mainly what distinguishes Chavez from his mentor, FidelCastro. Venezuela is the world’s fifth-largest oil exporter,and supplies the U.S. with about 11 percent of our daily oilsupplies. And Chavez controls the oil.

Instead of inviting the children to spend their summer holidaycutting sugar cane, as Fidel did in the 1960s, al Jefe is offeringsugar plums to the poor via his wholly-owned U.S. subsidiary, CITGO,which controls 6% of all U.S. refining capacity.

In July, Chavez had CITGO break existing distribution agreements with1,800 independently owned service stations in ten predominantly redstates, because he
reportedlywanted to break contracts“that benefit U.S. consumers more than Venezuelans.”

Now he is offering to supply discounted heating oil to “thepoor” in several U.S. states as a public relations ploy.
EvenUSA Today is asking ifCitgo is no longer an oil company, but a “political tool”for Chavez.

The Citgo offer of discounted fuel has won support from unexpectedcircles. On Friday, the parent company of the conservativeWashington Times will be
hostingVenezeuan ambassador Hernando Alverez Herrera to a “citizensforum,” where hewill expound on Chavez’s kind and generous offer to supplydiscounted fuel to the poor.

As a daily reader of the Times (and a former senior writer forInsight Magazine, an investigative newsweekly closed by the Timeslast year), I was surprised to learn that Herrera would be a featuredspeaker at a Washington Times event.

I was even more surprised when the spokesman for the Citizens Forum,Brian Bauman, told me that he was planning to allow Herrera to speakunchallenged by any panelist who would focus on Venezuela’sstrategic ties to Iran, a founding member of the axis of evil .“That’snot the direction of this forum,” he said. “It’s tospeak to the cost of energy in the Washington, DC area. One facet ofthat is the Venezuelan program.”

Come hither, Little One, said the Crocodile&

Venezuela under Chavez ressembles Castro’s Cuba inimportant ways. Just as Castro did after he seized power, Chavez hassought to expand his influence throughout the region through covertaction. He bankrolled Ortega’s return to power last month, andhas helped leftist leaders win power in Bolivia and elsewhere.

Also like Castro, he has sought the protection of a powerful opponentof the United States, in this case the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Castro was powerless to prevent Nikita Krushchev from deployingnuclear-tipped missiles to Cuba, an act that nearly provoked anuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union. AndKruschhev was no radical Islamic fundamentalist. He was rational tothe extreme, believing in the cold calculus of power politics.

Ahmadinejad has stated publicly that the goal of his government is tobring about the return of the Imam Mahdi,
the12thimam of Shiite Muslimlore who only comes out of his well after a devastating worldwar.

Unlike Krushchev, who understood that he and his regime were doomedif nuclear missiles actually began to fly, Ahmadinejad believes thatthrough death, he wins.

It’s hard to deter such a regime.

Iran does not currently have nuclear warheads – at least, sofar as the CIA professes to know. But they do have missiles which, ifdeployed in Venezuela, would be capable of hitting the UnitedStates.

But it goes against the pattern of Iranian regime behavior to act soovertly against the United States. Tehran’s mullahs preferacting by indirection, through proxies, just as they are murderingAmericans today in Iraq through proxies.

Suppose for a moment that Iran has acquired a nuclear weapon –either on the black market, as many sources believe; or through aclandestine uranium enrichment program, which the CIA discounts(because they have no spies in Iran who might detect such aprogram).

Iran could send a heavily-shielded nuclear warhead to Venezuela,where it would be fitted to a short-range missile and stowed on boarda U.S.-bound cargo ship.

That cargo ship would not be owned by Iranians or by Venezuelans, butperhaps by some Qatari millionaire through a front company in theBritish Virgin Islands. The deadly ship would then depart Venezuelacarrying perfectly legitimate, declared cargo for the port of Newark,New Jersey.

Perhaps the ship might not even be bound for the United States atall, but for Halifax, Nova Scotia, further up the Atlantic seaboard.Either way, the likelihood it would be inspected on the high seas arevery low.

Steaming along in commercial shipping lanes one hundred miles off thecoast of Washington, DC, the ship’s international crew bringsthe missile launcher up from the hold and prepares it for launch.Under the cover of darkness, they fire their weapon, then stow thelauncher and continue on their way. Two minutes later, Washington, DCis hit with a fireball that obliterates the White House, the CapitolBuilding, and the national monuments in seconds. And no signaturelinks this act of war back to Iran.

This, of course, is just fiction. But the technology is known andavailable. Iran has been testing sea-launched ballistic missilessince 1998.

Well before any kind of military strike on America, both Iran andVenezuela are working to get America to surrender, by first admittingour helplessness.

That is why Chavez is offering discounted oil through Citgo toAmericans. You are poor, you are weak, and your government won’ttake care of you. But we will, if only you will accept our gift.

That is why Iran is trying to get the United States to accept itshelp in Iraq, and is working through proxies in America (since it hasno legal equivalent of Citgo) to get its seductive offer across. Wewill stop the insurgency, Iran says, if only you will recognize thelegitimacy of our regime, accept our nuclear program, and stop allefforts to support pro-democracy movements inside Iran. We can keepAmericans from getting killed.

“Come hither, Little One,” said the Crocodile, “andI’ll whisper.”

In Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories, the Elephant’sChild is tempted by his ‘satiable curtiosity’ to seek outthe Crocodile, and cannot believe the beast will actually try to eathim. As the Elephant’s Child pulls and pulls to free his nosefrom the Crocodile’s teeth, it grows and grows – and thatis How the Elephant got its Trunk.

We won’t get off so easily.

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