What with Iraq's "success" so fragile that it might shatter, Afghanistan becoming even more deadly than Iraq ever was, Pakistan threatening retaliati
September 14, 2008

USLatAm What with Iraq's "success" so fragile that it might shatter, Afghanistan becoming even more deadly than Iraq ever was, Pakistan threatening retaliation for cross-border raids, Russia baring its teeth over the Caucusus conflict started by John McCain's pal - with all those, you know the last thing America wants is a disturbance down South America way.

Unfortunately, that's what's happening. Bolivia is swiftly slipping into violent chaos and the Bolivian leader, Evo Morales, has blamed it all in American provocateurs. He has expelled the US ambassador to Bolivia and, in solidarity, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez has sent the ambassador to his country packing too. Washington has responded by throwing out envoys from Bolivia and Venezuela and freezing the assets of three aides to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

In Washington, US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the US regretted the actions of Venezuela and Bolivia.

"This reflects the weakness and desperation of these leaders as they face internal challenges, and an inability to communicate effectively internationally in order to build international support," he said.

Bolivian and Venezuelan allegations - including that the US supports continuing anti-government protests in Bolivia - were false "and the leaders of those countries know it", Mr McCormack added.

Meanwhile, Honduras has refused the credentials of a new US ambassador, postponing his appointment.

...Freezing the assets of the three Venezuelan aides, the US Treasury accused them of "materially assisting the narcotics trafficking" of rebels in Colombia.

Analysts say the trio - Hugo Armando Carvajal Barrios, Henry de Jesus Rangel Silva and Ramon Rodriguez Chacin - are members of Mr Chavez's inner circle.

Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega may yet tell the US ambassador there to take a hike too - he's saying he backs he Bolivian leader.

Perhaps Ortega is remembering when the current US Director of national Intelligence, John Negroponte, was working in Honduras on CIA covert operations in support of the contras. Those covert operations involved several other figures who are part of, or close to, the Bush administration. It's OK to be paranoid when you have evidence they really are out to get you.

Now, just to make matters worse, the feud with Russia is getting all tangled up with the diplomatic feud in Latin America, as Russian forces get ready for joint military exercises with Venezuela. If there ever was or could have been a unipolar world, neoconservative foreign policy has ensured that it isn't to be. With much of America's military tied down in protracted occupations, fought to exhaustion by ragtag militias, other nations aren't as cowed as the used to be.

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