Friday, January 20, 2006

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black 

The U.S. State Deparment has said a lot of crazy things over the years. Just off the top of my head - the accusation that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction could be an example I suppose. But today they made comments that have to rank right up their with the best in terms of stupidity:

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters at a briefing in Washington that the U.S. continues to analyze the proposed purchases, which require U.S. approval because they utilize American technology.

``We have had concerns about those sales,'' McCormack said, according to a transcript provided by the State Department. ``Those concerns center around a military -- what we would consider an outsized military build-up in Venezuela.''

Since March, Venezuela has purchased $2 billion worth of Spanish military aircraft and frigates, as well as $240 million in Russian arms, including helicopters and rifles.

``This buying spree is really outsized in the analysis, I believe, of many to Venezuela's defense needs,'' McCormack said.

Listening to this one would think it was Venezuelan that was spending $400 billion a year on its military and invading and bombing other countries with regularity.

Now it is certainly true that Venezuela has been spending money purchasing arms. While I am ambivalent at best regarding these purchases given all the other needs Venezuela has, I can understand the logic to it. It sensible to make defensive preparations when the worlds sole superpower makes no secret of the fact that it wants to depose your government by hook or crook. And make no mistake - these are defensive preparations:

Spain and Brazil insist that the equipment they want to sell Venezuela would not destabilize the region. "We do not believe Venezuela represents a threat to anyone," said Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim last week.

Some military analysts agree with the Spanish and Brazilian assessments. "What's being procured right now isn't offensive," said Tom Baranauskas, a Latin America analyst for Forecast International Inc., a defense market-research firm. The mix of ships and air transport would give Venezuelans only the capability to respond to border infiltration, a real problem especially along its 1,400-mile border with Colombia. The small, turboprop Brazilian Super Tucano aircraft is useful to counter internal insurgencies, Baranauskas said, but not to launch an attack against another nation.

Now, this taxpayer sure would be happy if someone would do something about the U.S. "outsized military buildup". Lets not forget, the U.S. has lots of competing needs. Getting a healthcare system befitting a "developed" country sure would be one.


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