January 24, 2008:
Brazil is increasing its defense budget 53
percent (to $5.6 billion). Ecuador and Venezuela are making similar increases.
But only Venezuela seems to be a problem, mainly because of the bombastic and
threatening pronouncements of its ruler, Hugo Chavez. There is no real arms race in South America.
Ecuadorians have to deal with Colombian narcoterrorists infiltrating into their
country, and the Brazilians, despite a real leftist regime (as opposed to
Chavez' personality-driven quasi-fascist outfit) are mainly concerned about
Venezuela. In a show down, the Brazilians would almost certainly wax the
Venezuelans, given Chavez' imposition of "Bolivarian tactics" on his army, and
all the equipment he's been buying that's not very useful for a jungle
war. But we don't see Chile or Argentina
building up, and they're traditional rivals, nor Peru, which has issues with
all its neighbors. Colombia is not only well armed, but it has the only combat
experienced force in South America.