Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Eating Raul

Castro's death could mean more than just a question of what happens inside Cuba. If Fidel thinks that his brother Raul inherits the leadeship of more than an island just because Fidel wants it so, he may have made a mistake in misjudging the good will of his Venezuelan ally Hugo Chavez. Hugo may have bigger goals than just being a side kick forever.

This article says the Hugo Chavez will certainly cry a lot when Castro finally dies. But that Chavez will want to be the leader of the Axi of El Vil when the aging communist gunslinger is gone. Castro had his day, but Cuba is no longer the vanguard of Latin American revolutionary thought:

Chavez sees this as old Communism, and he is the future. He is the Bolivarian revolutionary learning from his Communist forefathers’ mistakes — save for the fundamentally-flawed-philosophy one — and thinking beyond even his own Venezuela. He is quashing opposition, press and even clergy with such slick spin to successfully delude outsiders into believing that he is a humanitarian who has perfected socialism — not the power-ravenous megalomaniac who claims even Jesus Christ was a socialist revolutionary.

Chavez fancies himself the cult of personality that will eclipse the long-fading allure of Castro; he fantasizes about being the larger-than-life leader who can unite even the most stubborn and independent Latin American countries into the United States of Hugo.

While the Cuban regime has faded into oblivion on the world stage, languishing in relative isolation, Chavez has taken a different tack. Around the globe he goes, drumming up support and making bosom buddies in some of the most despicable regimes that exist. His most recent tour has included Belarus and Vietnam; missile-lobbing North Korea only got scratched off the list at the last minute (not for a lack of mutual desire). And, of course, Chavez spent his 52nd birthday on Friday whooping it up in Iran. While his ministers made energy deals and hashed out eleven memoranda of understanding with the Islamic Republic, Chavez got to spend some cozy time with another nuclear-happy global threat, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

But crowns are not just passed along because Castro dies and Hugo gives a fiery speech denouncing America and has visa stamps for visits to the outlaws of the world. Hugo will have to seize the crown by action that confirms his revolutionary credentials. Hugo needs something tangible. And something he thinks is achievable with few bad consequences following.

So if I was in charge of the Netherlands, given past Chavez sabre rattling, I'd reinforce the garrisons of the Dutch West Indies (Aruba, Bonaire, and CuraƧao). And ask America to send an expeditionary strike group to the region for a little joint exercise while Castro is in the hospital.

If leadership of the Axis of El Vil isn't in Castro's will, I'd worry that Hugo skips probate and grabs the family silver while everone is distracted.

Hugo may be a posturing fool. But he is a posturing fool with oil, delusions of grandeur, and oil over $70 per barrel. Not a good combination if Hugo thinks he spots his chance to enter the history books.