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Chavez Prepares for War on Colombia

6:14 PM, Nov 9, 2009 • By JOHN NOONAN
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He's going through the motions at least. It's doubtful that Chavez initiates a conflict with his better-armed neighbor while he's still waiting for those big Russian arms shipments. Chalk this up next to the dictator's long list of prior attention whoring: hosting of Russian supersonic bombers, his announcement of the uranium sharing plan with Iran, and his long history of blustery rhetoric against America's closest South American ally.

Colombia and Venezuela drew closer to the brink of conflict today after President Hugo Chavez sent 15,000 Venezuelan troops to the volatile border between the two countries, claiming that the U.S. planned to use Colombian bases to mount an invasion of his oil-rich nation.

President Alvaro Uribe of Colombia said that he would appeal to the UN over the threat, which comes after months of sabre rattling over a deal that allows the US to conduct operations out of Colombian bases.

Colombian troops are better equipped, better trained, and are battle-hardened from years of fighting the FARC. The only edge that Chavez has is in the air, with his relatively modern Russian Sukhois and F-16s vs. Colombia's aging Kfir (Israeli modified Mirage 5) fighters, but that could be offset with one U.S. AWACs providing aerial radar assistance. President Obama will likely avoid involvement--not necessarily an unwise move considering Chavez wants to play up the U.S. as an imperial aggressor meme--but providing some token assistance in the form of a non-combat support role (like AWACs) might be enough to put Chavez in his place. And it would further signal other U.S. allies that the White House still takes our defense alliances seriously.