Hugo Chavez might be shipping fuel to the murderous Syrian regime. He might be helping the genocidal Iranian regime build a missile base in Venezuela that can target the United States directly. He might have supported Muammar Qaddafi, just as he has supported terrorism in Columbia and incited hatred against Israel. He might have tried to undermine constitutional democracy in Honduras and across the continent. He might hate America and launch into anti-American diatribes at every opportunity. But according to President Barack Obama, Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez is not a “serious” national security threat.
President Obama, speaking to Miami journalist Oscar Haza, said that “what Mr. Chávez has done over the last several years has not had a serious national security impact on us.” If the above (abridged) list of actions against the U.S. and its allies does not constitute “a serious national security impact,” then nothing is. The U.S. has gone to war over less–most recently in Libya, where Obama acted because of the threat of atrocities.
The president said that his main concern in Venezuela was the quality of its democracy–and yet one of his first foreign policy acts as president was to greet Chavez warmly at the Summit of the Americas in April 2009. Showing such support for a would-be dictator sent exactly the opposite signal about Venezuelan democracy.
If Chavez is not a “serious” national security threat, President Obama is not serious about national security.