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Obama and the Axis of Chavez

It's getting ever tougher to tell hard news from satire, especially with headlines such as "Obama backs Venezuela's right to nuclear energy" -- this atop a story in which the AFP this week went on to report that President Barack Obama says he's OK with Russia building a nuclear plant for Venezuela, as long as Venezuela doesn't go and do something irresponsible with it all (such as maybe, well, you know... use the project as a cover for pursuing or installing nuclear weapons in America's backyard).

Obama's eye-popping line, quoted in this story, is: "We have no incentive or interest in increasing friction between Venezuela and the U.S., but we do think Venezuela needs to act responsibly."

File that under the gazillion hollow U.S. statements of "concern" and "disappointment" which in recent years have punctuated Iran's proliferating adventures with enriched uranium, and North Korea's two nuclear tests. There are a great many things with which America would have no problem, if the predatory tyrants behind them would just act "responsibly" -- the problem is that they have no intention of doing so, and they don't.

In this case, Venezuela's deal for a nuclear reactor emerged from a visit just paid by President Hugo Chavez to Moscow, as part of a ten-day trip to Belarus, Russia, Iran, Syria, Libya and Portugal. Setting aside Portugal, does anyone in the White House notice a common theme to this itinerary? Chavez is making yet another tour of an axis of despotisms. This gang runs the gamut from weapons dealers to sponsors of terrorism to nuclear proliferators -- past, present and future. This is not the itinerary of a democratic leader shopping for technology to enhance the electricity supply of a free and happy citizenry back home. If your grandmother were to take off on a 10-day deal-making spree through Minsk, Moscow, Tehran, Damascus and Tripoli, you'd be right to wonder what she was really up to. When Hugo Chavez does it, it is head-spinning irresponsibility of the first order for the White House to entertain even for a split second the idea that this has anything to do with "peaceful" nuclear power.