Friday, November 28, 2008

The Coming Storm: Russia and Latin America

While President-elect Obama is busy putting together a cabinet, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is busy resurrecting old alliances and forming some new ones. Medvedev recently met with Venezuela leader Hugo Chavez, then visited Cuba's Castro brothers, after trips to Brazil and Peru. In Venezuela the Russian leader signed a deal on nuclear energy, and coordianted the upcoming joint naval exercises between Russia and Venezuala which will begin the 1st of December off of the Venezualan coast.

It should be clear even to casual observers that Russia is attempting to gain a foothold in America's backyard before Obama can assume office. This is a game from the old Soviet playbook, push until you meet resistance, and when you meet resistance, deny all, then keep pushing. The Russians wasted no time in issuing an ultimatim to the new President-elect. On November fifth Medvedev told the world that if the US did not abandon its' plan to station Patriot missle batteries in Poland and Czech, the Russians would place ballistic missiles in Kalliningrad. A clear challenge to the new American President, and one that he must carefully consider in order to contain a resurgent Russian threat.

How would Obama react to the simultaneous acts of Russia placing nuclear missiles in Kalliningrad and Cuba, and Venezuela cutting off its' oil supply (almost a million barrels a day) to the US? America consumes almost 60% of all Venezualan oil output, but I'm sure Medvedev has discussed alternative market strategies with Chavez. The goal here is to test the new president, and bring America to her knees.

Obama's "soaring oratory" will not deter our enemies from challenging him, he has to realize that fact. He must act decisively to keep this country safe. In fact Obama's reputation as a man who deals in words works against him. Obviously the Russian government feels that he is a hollow man, and they hope to take advantage of someone who believes more in words than in action. The Russians no doubt also find solace in the fact they now get to deal with a man who has never kept the same job for over five years. No wonder Mevedev is always smiling.

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