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Venezuela, Bolivia, and Colombia headed for crisis

By Scott Sullivan

31.07.05 | Venezuela, Bolivia, and Colombia will merge into a single regional crisis. The US will need a comprehensive plan, so far not in evidence, to meet this crisis. The US Departmment of Defense must take the lead and be held accountable.

The bad news is that Chavez will keep his word and try to purge the leadership of the Catholic Church, with help from his Cuban advisors, who successfully did the same thing in their own country. This was relatively easy in Cuba, where the Catholic Church was not popular. It will be far more difficult, perhaps impossible in Venezuela, where the Church is very popular. One thing is certain, if Chavez moves ahead, and he almost certainly will, he will galvanize the Venezuelan resistance.

The good news is that the Venezuelan resistance will receive strong support from Colombia and the non-indigenous communities in Bolivia. Colombia and Bolivia may come to recognize that their first line of defense is in Venezuela. In their view, they may rationalize that if Chavez is going to become involved in their internal affairs, they should do the same in Venezuela. To put it another way, "the best defense is a good offense."

As for the US, such a development would put a serious block to its Chavez partnership strategy. If the US decides also to support the resistance, we will see DoD take a lead role in policy, as in the 1980's.

Scott Sullivan is President of Sullivan and Associates, Global Analysis. Served at the National Security Council, Crisis Management Center, from 1984-1988, and in the Office of the Secreatry of Defense, International Security Affairs from 1988 to 2005, most recently in the Office of Western Hemisphere Affairs.

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