Thursday, September 10, 2009

When Dictators of a Feather Flock Together It Threatens U.S. and Western Interests

By Barry Rubin

The little stories are often more important than the big front-page headlines. Always look for wider significance in the details.

So here’s a news item which few people would read yet tells us a great deal: “Venezuela recognizes Georgian separatist regions.” Readers could understandably say: What? Yawn! Or even think that the article is about Atlanta and Savannah (cities in the U.S. state of Georgia).

But why should Venezuela, which is in South America, care about a land so distant and totally unimportant for its interests? Simple.

First, the background. As part of its assertion of power and efforts to regain (however indirectly) its old empire, Russia has seized two areas in the country of Georgia called Abhazia and South Ossetia. For all practical purposes, these have been annexed though the puppet regimes claimed to declare independence.

So when a moderate, pro-Western democratic country is attacked by a neighbor which seized and annexes part of its territory might the United States and Europe rally in its defense? Of course not, where have you been the last ten years or so? They should but they don’t.

So why Venezuela? Because the "bad guys" help each other more cooperatively than the "good guys." In fact, that's one of the world's--and especially America's--biggest problems right now.

Well, that country’s dictator Hugo Chavez is riding on an anti-American, anti-Western, pro-Axis of Evil platform. (Which, unfortunately, doesn’t stop the Obama Administration from treating him like a buddy.) In this case, Venezuela is backing an act of aggression by Russia, just as it is moving steadily into a tighter embrace with Iran.

Ok so why are you reading my article right now? Because this seemingly insignificant step is of tremendous importance. And here’s the point:

Radical and aggressive regimes are pulling together in an increasingly strong alignment, to some extent alliance. These include: Iran, Syria, Hamas’s Gaza Strip, Hizballah’s state-within-a-state in Lebanon, Libya (though it’s always very individualistic), North Korea, elements in the Pakistani government (the kind that help Iran get nuclear arms, protect the Taliban, and launch terrorist attacks on India), Russia, North Korea, Cuba, Bolivia, and Venezuela.

I predict that this alignment will become increasingly important in various ways over the coming years. Can the West carve away parts of it? That’s unlikely, unless one or more of these regimes is overthrown. Western democratic states will have to work harder than they are to ensure the list doesn’t become longer.

On Chavez's growing relations with Iran see here and here and also here.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books. To see or subscribe to his blog, Rubin Reports.

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