Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Let's Kick Hugo's Butt

By Alan Caruba

The first thing that came to mind when I read that Hugo Chavez threatened to stop exporting oil to the United States was that, right after Iraq, the next nation in need of liberating just became Venezuela.

Yes, I know we’re stretched a little thin these days when it comes to invading oil-producing nations and my response is hardly nuanced, but the plain fact is that by “nationalizing” Exxon Mobil’s considerable investment and holdings there, Chavez and his merry band of Commies is engaged in theft.

Most of the world’s oil sits under nations that have gone the same route, enriching a thin sliver of those in charge while rarely improving life for everyone else. Exxon Mobil, like other major oil companies, spends billions every year on exploration, extraction, and refining.

I suspect the reason they went to the courts to challenge the Chavez government’s right to nationalize one of its four heavy oil projects in the Orinoco River basin is to recover their investment and to make it clear that such behavior is a threat, not just to Exxon Mobil, but to the entire publicly traded oil industry.

These are the people who are frequently called “Big Oil” and widely criticized for risking billions to make sure the oil keeps flowing. The truth is they don’t control the price of oil. It is a global commodity whose price is set by mercantile exchanges on a daily basis.

As noted, Hugo Chavez has publicly threatened to cut off oil exports to the United States. Since Venezuela is the fourth largest supplier of oil to the U.S., that threat goes way beyond a dispute with Exxon Mobil.

Do you remember the public relations campaign Chavez staged by offering heating oil to low income Americans? He even had one of the Kennedy kids shilling for him in television ads. There have also been a number of Hollywood actors that found time to be photographed with Chavez. He thinks we’re stupid.

Chavez may also think the U.S. is too involved in Iraq and Afghanistan to spare a carrier group to park offshore or that we are too distracted by our national elections. Thugs tend to calculate such matters.

Saddam Hussein overplayed his hand and my guess is that Chavez may well do the same. It’s not like the place is on the other side of the planet. Check the map. It’s a lot closer than that.

What Venezuela needs is a whole new government, one that is not fashioned after Cuba’s. Chavez is making life very unpleasant for Venezuelans who value freedom and the United States, sooner better than later, needs to demonstrate our support for them.


Unknown said...

Thanks for confirming why so much of the world despises the United States. You are a perfect poster boy for the anti-America crowd.

You see, most people in the world don't own major oil company stock, so when it comes down to a choice between a country's oil revenues going to its own people or to foreign investors, it's pretty much a no brainer.

I'm surprised you don't see that considering the "no brainer" that you are.

Comrade NightSnow said...

This columnist is advocating blatantly imperialist policies and represents the worst of kind of capitalists. He obviously does not believe in the concept of self sovereignty as the people of Venezuela have backed Chavez in the referendum and have a viable democracy which rejected Chavez's last round of "Commie" policies. This columnist is a imperialist stool pigeon.

Alan Caruba said...

For the record, I do not own any stock in ExxonMobil or any other oil company. You both missed the point of the post, i.e., that it is theft to invite an oil company into your country to spend billions finding oil, extracting it, and refining it, and then to steal their assets via "nationalization." If you knew anything about what this means, you would know that such nationally owned resources are rarely managed well and little of the revenue ever is spent on infrastructure or any other benefits to the people of the nation. For you, this is just another reason to badmouth America, capitalism, and, in the process, give support to a Communist dictator. Or, to put it another way, to be idiots.