Oil power comes and goes:
Aside from his hint that Venezuela might be seeking nuclear power, the highlight of Chavez’s recent visit to Moscow was to finalize a contract to purchase five Russian diesel submarines for $1 billion to safeguard his country's oil-rich underwater shelf and thwart a possible embargo by the US in response to his anti-Washington crusade in Latin America for the past several years. Under his presidency, Venezuela has become the second largest purchaser of Russian weapons after Algeria.
"We are strengthening Venezuela's military power precisely to avoid imperial aggression and assure peace, not to attack anybody," said Chavez in a recent speech at a military base in Caracas.
The arms procurement is funded by a treasury overflowing with foreign exchange due to high petroleum prices. This gives Chavez the clout to challenge the US, sorely dependent on imports of Venezuelan oil, and insult President George Bush with impunity.
Dilip Hiro argues that even a look at the United States shows that hydrocarbon power eventually wanes. Venezuela, Iran, Russia and others better make hay while the sun shines. Regrettably for his people, Chavez's attitude (in particular) seems to be 'apres moi, le deluge.'