Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Treat Closer to Home: Hugo Chavez and the War Against America

Chavez Poses Real Danger, Authors Say

Doug Schoen and Michael Rowan, both long-time observers of Venezuelan politics, have written a blockbuster expose of the anti-American agenda of that nation’s President Hugo Chavez and warn that his nation should be added to the list of terrorist sponsors .
In their book, “The Threat Closer to Home: Hugo Chavez and the War Against America” (Free Press), the authors make it clear that Chavez poses a real threat to the United States through his country's sponsorship of terrorists. [Editor's Note: Get Doug Schoen’s new book, “The Threat Closer to Home: Hugo Chavez and the War Against America” — Go Here Now.]
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax, Schoen explains why this clear and present threat to this nation’s interests and security has largely gone unnoticed. “Arguments that should have been made a long time ago, and for a variety of reasons — Chavez is a clown, he’s been anti-Bush, is currying favor with a massive PR campaign in the West, particularly among liberals — he's managed to operate under the radar with a lot of his nefarious activities.”
Schoen tells Newsmax. Schoen ominously adds, “He is an avowed supporter of Hamas. He says what Israel is doing is a Holocaust. He says that Hamas is welcome anytime in Caracas. He is training Hezbollah's fighters in Venezuela. "Just this week, the Turks interdicted a shipment of what they believe were explosives, but were called tractor parts, that were heading from Tehran to Caracas. This is just a random week in the life of Hugo Chavez and look what's going on.”
Newsmax: In the book you stress how Chavez has been able to use huge oil revenues to promote his anti-American agenda. Now that the price of oil has plummeted, won’t this somewhat cripple his efforts?
Schoen: This is a man who first and foremost puts his militaristic and expansionist and aggressive tendencies first. While it's certainly going to hurt him, I think it is only going to make him more authoritarian and aggressive. He is still buying Russian arms and he is still supporting anti-American interests around the world.
Newsmax: Won't the loss of revenues have an effect on his relationships with his bought-and-paid-for allies?
Schoen: There will be less money available to do that for sure. But I don't think he's going to cut back doing it in any way. For example, this week Chavez was going to cut off low-cost oil to Kennedy's Citizen Energy program in Massachusetts. But he got a little bad press, so he's going to keep doing it because it gives him political cover — and that gets him the Kennedy family supporting his activities. It's been completely cynical, because it's not as if he had any commitment to poor people in the United States. It is just his way of saying, Look, I can do good things.
Newsmax: Talking about his commitment to poor people, a lot of his own people's loyalty has been bought with his oil revenues. Will not that be affected?
Schoen: I think it will when he substitutes intimidation for blandishments. There have been more than a few opponents of the state who have been either economically hurt or imprisoned. I think that what this means is he is going to just clamp down harder and be more aggressive. Newsmax: Isn't there a growing opposition to Chavez in Venezuela?
Schoen: There is, and I've worked with it over the years. The problem is that it is not organized. It is not cohesive, and he buys it off, he threatens it, he intimidates it, and he will cheat in counting the votes. A combination of those factors makes it very difficult for an organized coherent opposition to exist. In the case of the Philippines with Marcos, or Serbia with Milosevic, we worked directly with the opposition . . . We haven’t engaged directly with the opposition in Venezuela, and we should. It's just not an organized and disciplined counterforce to Chavez.
Newsmax: Does he now have complete control over the military, which in the beginning was very much opposed to him?
Schoen: Absolutely. [After Chavez instituted] the referendum on extending term limits two Decembers ago, the military came to him and said, "Hugo, you're not going to steal this one, too." And so they let him say that it was a 51-49 defeat and that he had just narrowly missed. But he didn't narrowly miss. The vote was like 60-40 or 65-35 against him. But the deal he made with the military was, We'll let you appear to have a close vote as long as you back off being president for life.
Newsmax: In short, you don’t think there is any chance he’s going to be overthrown?
Schoen: No. He is going to have another referendum next month on extending term limits. I think he's going to try to cheat if he can get away with it.
Newsmax: How should the United States deal with the Chavez threat?
Schoen: First, I think that Venezuela must be declared a state sponsor of terrorism . . . [Chavez] supports terror, supports Hezbollah, Hamas, has said nice things about al-Qaida, and is in alliance with Iran . . . We should also break our dependence on foreign oil generally, and particularly, on his oil. And we need to have a Marshall plan for Latin America, where we engaged economically and democratically, with opposition groups who support our values. Newsmax: What are his connections with Iran?
Schoen: Chavez has made seven trips to Tehran, and [President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad has made five or six trips to Caracas. There's no reason for those countries to be engaging, other than to oppose the United States.
Newsmax: Given our current economic situation, do you see any possibility he will attempt to further cripple our economy?
Schoen: He's made it very clear he wants to hurt the United States, and one of the practical things he's done is try to get OPEC to cut production so that oil prices could rise. He's also tried to get OPEC off the dollar standard onto a euro standard to undermine the American dollar. The facts in this case paint a picture of a man who is chillingly and dangerously threatening our interests in many ways.
This is a problem of very, very serious proportions that has not been seriously addressed. [Editor's Note: Get Doug Schoen’s new book, “The Threat Closer to Home: Hugo Chavez and the War Against America” — Go Here Now.

Labels: , , ,