Pedro G. Cavallero discusses Venezuela‘s candidacy to replace Argentina as a nonpermanent member of the UN Security Council. Under the leadership of Hugo Chávez, Venezuela‘s foreign policy has become erratic. Chávez has allied himself with Iran and supported its bid for nuclear weapons, and if elected to such an important position in the Security Council could destabilize the Middle East. In Cavallero‘s opinion, another state must be chosen, capable of playing a constructive role in the United Nations.
IN THE WORLD DEBATE SURROUNDING THE ISRAEL-LEBANON WAR, it has somehow been forgotten that Israel’s 2000 withdrawal from the country failed to pacify its northern border. On the contrary, an emboldened Hezbollah tightened its hold over the area, entrenched itself militarily, and continued defying a Security Council resolution to disarm.
This war, therefore, is no border dispute, nor liberation war from Israeli occupation. It is a war to destroy the Jewish state; to wipe Israel clean off the map as the Iranian leader so clearly put it. And across the seas in Latin America, many countries are rallying behind that cause in triumph.
CUBA AND VENEZUELA
Following Jerusalem’s decision to destroy Hezbollah’s bases of operations, Cuba and Venezuela reacted as expected: through inflammatory, one-sided declarations demonizing Israel and undermining its right to self-defense. Historically, Havana has always found Israel at fault and supported even the most abject actions taken by its adversaries.
Venezuela, on the other hand, since President Hugo Chávez’s coming to power in 1998, has pursued an erratic international course. Chávez has drastically reoriented his country’s foreign policy, steering Caracas toward tyrannical regimes. Ostentatiously, Chávez has courted states that embrace vicious anti-Semitism and even advocate the destruction of Israel.
Starting in 2001, Venezuela moved toward strengthening bilateral ties with the Iranian revolution, which in Caracas has been labeled as sister to the Bolivarian revolution.
As a result, the Venezuelan strongman has become a conspicuous presence in Tehran, where he has visited several times. Former Iranian President Mohamed Khatami has traveled to Venezuela on three occasions and in 2005 was the recipient of the Orden del Libertador as a tireless fighter for all the right causes in the world.
Crowning this understanding, Venezuela has sided with Iran as the mullahs run frantically toward nuclear capacity.
CANDIDACY TO THE SECURITY COUNCIL
Chávez’s international activism and hobnobbing with rogue states does not seem to diminish his standing among the Latin American democracies. And as the U.N. General Assembly turns gears toward the election of Argentina’s replacement as a non-permanent Security Council member, Venezuela continues galvanizing regional support.
Shockingly, behind the candidacy of Tehran’s ally in the Western Hemisphere is Argentina. As a country that was hit twice by Hezbollah, one would expect Argentine diplomacy to follow an entirely different course. Though geographically remote from the Middle East, Buenos Aires has nonetheless experienced first-hand the group’s terrorist wrath, which Rabbi Israel Singer of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) has labeled an arm of the Iranian government.
IRANIAN TERRORISM IN ARGENTINA
In 1992, the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires was first bombed and destroyed in a blast that killed 29 and wounded 242 people. A 1999 bombing destroyed the AMIA headquarters, Buenos Aires Jewish community center, and killed 85. Following the first attack, Argentine authorities expelled several Iranian diplomats, requested the extradition of others from Europe, and stated the existence of convincing proof of Iranian involvement in the bombing.
Since then, nothing has resulted from the judicial proceedings of Argentine courts, and the pursuance of the Iranian connection has long been abandoned, swept under the carpet by inept and indifferent administrations.
VENEZUELA IS NOT AN OPTION
Despite its tragic experience with international terrorism, Argentina throws its weight (and rallies South America) behind Venezuela’s candidacy to the Security Council knowing that, from such a platform, Hugo Chávez would further propagate extremist views as a major crisis engulfs the Middle East. Buenos Aires is aware that once Chávez’s representatives have a seat at the Council, Iran will have gained a well-positioned advocate to legitimate its nefarious influence on world affairs.
As a relevant regional player, Argentina has a responsibility to support a state that is able to play a constructive role at the U.N. in handling the unprecedented security challenges unfolding today. Venezuela’s close association with Iran, a state that sponsors terrorism, destabilizes the Middle East and threatens Israel’s existence, renders its candidacy deeply troubling, and unacceptable.
Under Hugo Chávez, Venezuela is not an option.