Venezuela is rearming, mainly via six billion dollars worth of
Russian weapons. Officials insist that claimed the stuff is needed to protect
the country from an American invasion. But for the last two years, Venezuelan
officials, including the country's demagogic president, Hugo Chavez, have made
numerous public statements about the "reunification" of the islands
of the Dutch West Indies (Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaτao) with Venezuela. Added to
that there is the ancient claim on most of neighboring Guyana, some
disputed Colombian territorial waters, and very flimsy claims on Caribbean
islands like Trinidad and Tobago. There has been some actions as well.
Venezuelan violations of Dutch air space and territorial waters, including
illegal over flights by military aircraft, have occurred with some frequency.
In addition, Venezuelan authorities have urged residents of the islands to form
"Bolivarian" cells, in support of eventual "reunification."
Netherlands responded by reinforcing their West Indian garrison (with consists
of a small naval contingent, a battalion of infantry, and some helicopters)
with a flight of F-16s. The Dutch government also took the matter up with the
European Union, and Britain (given that some other territories on which
Venezuela is laying claims, such as Trinidad, Tobago and Guyana, are members of
the British Commonwealth) and France (which also has overseas territories in
sane man would try to use force to settle these territorial disputes. But
Chavez has been doing some pretty insane things inside Venezuela lately. He's
been trashing the economy (like price controls that force farmers to either do
illegal deals on the black market, or go out of business, and forcing foreign
companies to sell their Venezuelan assets to the government at a fraction of
their cost.) In a similar situation of mad desperation, the Argentinean
military dictatorship tried to grab the Falkland islands from Britain in
after Guyana would not only bring the British in, but probably the United
States as well. That's because over a quarter million Guyanese live New York
City, and senator Hillary Clinton would feel obliged to answer pleas from her
constituents to do something. The population of Guyana itself is only 750,000,
but the country is the size of Great Britain. The 60 percent of Guyana
Venezuela claims is thinly populated, and many of those people have long been
pro-Venezuelan. Still, Chavez would stir up a hornets nest going after Guyana.
a grab for the Dutch islands would also be troublesome. Even if Venezuela
follows thru and gets those nine Russian submarines, taking and holding these
islands would bring forth a military response from the United States and
Europe. Any halfway competent staff officer could point out to Chavez the high
degree of risk in going after Guyana or Aruba (which does have a lot of oil).
But Chavez has been blowing off competent advice of late, and is wary of his
own military. He's replacing a lot of trained officers with yes-men. It may be
time to expect the unexpected.