Sunday, January 29, 2006

Hopefully this is an idle threat 

Today, President Chavez, upset at what he claims is the U.S.'s refusal to help maintain Venezuela's exisiting F-16 fighters threatened to buy Russian Mig aircraft.

Now, it might be nice if the U.S. would be fully co-operative in helping Venezuela keep using the F-16s. But given the current political realities this is probably not realistic. So the question then becomes should Venezuela money aquiring new airplanes from anyone else? I don't believe so.

First, the primary threat to Venezuela obviously to Venezuela obsiously comes from the United States. Given the power of the U.S. military any airplanes Venezuela had would probably not be of much help. As the Iraqi resistance has shown, a low tech but capable militia is the way to go in deterring the U.S. So to the exten that Venezuela is going to spend money on arms it should be with that in mind.

Second, although others have previously said that Venezuela may need those arms to deter potential regional rivals such as Colombia I don't think that is really the case either. It doesn't look as though Venezuela and Colombia are at all likely to get involved in a shooting war with each other. They both simply have too much to lose. Further, if Colombia did sieze territory from Venezuela the best and most effective retaliation by Venezuela would simply be to start supporting the Colombian insurgents such as the FARC. Colombia, realizing Venezuela has a very strong card in that, therefore knows better than to get into an open confratation with Venezuela.

Given the above its hard to for me to see what possible benefit Venezuela would get from purchasing fighter aircraft. And cheap it would not be. Suppose they purchase 30 aircraft at $40 million each that would be $1.2 billion. Not an insignificant amount of money. Further, the planes would require a lot of more money to keep them in flying condition.

So here is to hoping this is all a bluff and Chavez really doesn't have any intention of making such a costly and unnecessary purchases.


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