Away from the conflict in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin is quietly seeking a foothold in Latin America, military officials warn.
To the alarm of lawmakers and Pentagon officials, Putin has begun sending navy ships and long-range bombers to the region for the first time in years.
Russia’s defense minister says the country is planning bases in Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua, and just last week, Putin’s national security team met to discuss increasing military ties in the region.
“They’re on the march,” Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) said at a Senate hearing earlier this month. “They’re working the scenes where we can’t work. And they’re doing a pretty good job.”
Gen. James Kelly, commander of U.S. Southern Command said there has been a “noticeable uptick in Russian power projection and security force personnel” in Latin America.
“It has been over three decades since we last saw this type of high-profile Russian military presence,” Kelly said at the March 13 hearing.I have written before that while we announce the end of the Monroe Doctrine, Russia announces that it seeks military facilities in Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua. All three of those regimes, by the way, are shining examples of what happens when the USA behaves in a weak and confused manner, especially in a region of vital concern to us.
I am no genius, and don't play one on the internet or anywhere else. It does not require a genius to see what is happening in the post-USA world of the Obamistas. Other actors, many of them ruthless opponents of Western values of democracy and liberty, are stepping in to fill the power vacuum and reshape the world--and do it while laughing at us. Of these actors, Putin is the most determined and committed to reforming the globe into a place much less congenial for those Western values, and much friendlier to Russia's rise to the top. His plan is exceedingly simple. No Snowden-like revelations required. Taking advantage of the weakness and self-loathing of the Obama misadministration, Putin is out to neutralize Europe and make it into an economic resource for Russia, e.g., gas sales, investments, access to high tech, and to ease the US out of the picture. NATO is to be seen for what it increasingly has become, to wit, a joke.
With his cost-free move in Crimea, Putin has put on notice all the former republics of the old Soviet Empire. Their freedom of action is severely constrained; they must never go against the perceived interests of Russia OR of Russians. He is reasserting Moscow's predominance over the "Stans" aided by our precipitous withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan. In the Middle East, Putin is the savior of his Assad ally in Syria, and a behind-the-scenes force in getting the US and the West to give up on blocking Iran's nuclear ambitions. His steadfastness in backing Assad stands in sharp contrast to our treatment of Hosni Mubarak and the Egyptian military, our needless sacrifice of Qaddafi, and our relentless pressure on Israel to cave to ever-shifting "Palestinian" demands. In East Asia, our fecklessness in dealing with the threat from North Korea, and our weakness in the face of China does not pass unnoticed. Putin is out to show East Asia that the US is not a reliable partner and that those nations would be better off reconsidering their alignments. Correction: Putin does not really need to do this; Obama is doing it on his own, projecting weakness and lack of seriousness when it comes to economic and military subjects, and by sending his idiotic wife to lecture elite Chinese high school students on the need for education.
Putin, Maduro, Rouhani, Castro, et al, see the US refusing to take the measures that would lead to a reassertion of superpower status, e.g., frack, undo military budget cuts, free our economy of regulatory shackles, and, apparently rightly so, have decided that the US no longer wants to be a superpower. We are content not only to watch but to fund the rise of our enemies.
Putin has seen his opportunity and he is taking it. We, however, seem more inspired in our reactions not by Winston Churchill, or Teddy Roosevelt, but by crazy 19th century Bolivian dictator Mariano Melgarejo who sent his troops to invade Europe but when he found out how far it was to the Old World, decided to fire a cannonade in Europe's direction, instead.