by Nil Nikandrov, Moscow-based journalist and political analyst
April 30, 2012 (TSR) – Militarization of the US foreign policy on global scale is an obvious fact. It concerns Latin America as much as it concerns other parts of the world. The US State Department does not show its usual “departmental” jealousy with regard to the increased military and diplomatic activities of the US South Command (US Southcom).
This is the strategic course and it is not going to change in the near future. That is why there is no need to wonder why the generals, who have been heading Southcom in the last ten years, were regarded by people of Latin America as the key conductors of Washington’s policy. The latest of them, General-Lieutenant Douglas Fraser is about to accomplish his mission on the continent and will soon be replaced by John Kelly, the general who fought in Iraq and other flashpoints.
Southcom is intensively upgrading its infrastructure in Latin America which comprises airdromes, ports, communication centers and residential complexes in which additional military contingents can be accommodated. The new command center, which ensures control over the regional military bases with the use of advanced technologies, has been built in the city of Doral (Miami, Florida).
It envisages even a possibility of nuclear missile attack that is why the underground stores of the building are protected by concrete and steel. Everything tells us that Pentagon is preparing to the radical worsening of the operational situation in the Western hemisphere. Analysts estimate, that such a development of the situation is more than likely if the US and Israel try to use force to solve the issue of “neutralization” of Iran’s hypothetic nuclear weapon.
Washington seriously takes Teheran’s words about a counterstrike if the US attacks Iran. It is likely that Iran meant “retaliation groups” which could be formed expecting H-hour. The FBI and other US special agencies have checked many times all the people in the US, who may be suspected of criminal links with Iran, but no one will risk to call these preventive steps efficient.
To fight the units of Iranian and other extremists in the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean Basin is even more difficult. The propaganda campaign with regard to ever present Islamic extremists, who are active the countries to the south from Rio-Grande, have reached the scale when it is difficult to tell the truth from a lie. US citizens easily give in to panic.
However even professional military sometimes begin to fear. Recently, an abandoned attaché-case was found in the hall of Southcom’s Defense Department. Emergency evacuation was announced and the crowd of hundreds of officers pushing each other made a beeline to the entrance: enemies are everywhere and they can attack you even in the most protected places.
The best protection from terrorism is a security belt or a long range defense concept. This is how Pentagon explains its efforts on expanding its network of military bases around the continent.
However, the US military people use the term “base” more and more seldom when they meet their foreign partners. They were instructed not to do so. Nowadays other terminology is used, which is in line with the strategy of the “soft force” and is not associated with “confrontation”: Cooperative security location – CSL or Forward Operating Location – FOL.
The US has active military bases in Columbia, Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Costa-Rica, Panama, Peru and Paraguay. Southcom has naval stations on Curacao and Aruba (in the Caribbean Sea).
Now the US is intensively building a CSL in the Dominican Republic. According to Fraser, this is a naval station base on the resort island of Saona, which is needed to fight illegal drug trafficking and illegal migration to the US. Naturally, this base will become an integral part of the system which ensures the monitoring of the territorial waters of Venezuela and its fleet.
The agreement with Argentina on creation a military base in the northern province of Chaco is another achievement of Southcom in strengthening its positions in Latin America.
Americans began this work six years ago proposing Argentina their assistance in fighting natural disasters. Than they proposed Argentina to use services of their its servicemen during different humanitarian campaigns. The members of the military group under the US embassy became frequent visitors in Chaco.
They told local authorities about their achievements in this field in Honduras, Costa-Rica, Paraguay and other countries. Simultaneously the campaign was underway warning about intensification of Islamic extremists in the Triple Frontier area (tri-border area between Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay).
The statement was simple – only in cooperation with Southcom and US special services it is possible to avoid a repetition of large scale terrorist campaigns were conducted in Buenos Aires against the Israeli embassy (1992) and Charity Jewish Organization AMIA (1994).
President Cristina Fernandez, who is critical about the Imperial trends in Washington’s policy, allowed the US to establish “Emergency Situations Center”. It is not excluded that Barack Obama in a private conversation promised her the US contribution to the settlement of the dispute over the Malvinas Islands in the interests of Argentina.
The Chaco province’s governor Jorge Capitanich showed a special interest for the implementation of the projects on “fighting cataclysms”. When interviewed by North American mass media he made several statements, which contradicted the political course conducted by the passed away president Nestor Kirschner and his follower and widow Cristina Fernandez de Kirschner.
Capitanich urged a new strategic partnership with the US (there was a precedent of such a partnership before but then Argentina gained nothing from it) and a new attempt of the implementation of ALCA integration bloc in the interests of the US. The governor sets special hopes on the construction of a facility to process sugar cane into bio-ethanol.
The “guaranteed” investments worth $100 million, promises to create new work places and the prospect of other projects with the US participation encouraged the governor to make statements, which contain the promises the US diplomats and intelligence officers gave on the stage of the development of the “promising contract”.
Having a military base in Chaco gives Southcom a perfect opportunity to monitor the “Triple Frontier” area, to study of the prospects of exploration of rich fresh water reserves of fresh water of Guarani Aquifer System, to recruit local people first of all among the servicemen and policemen.
Southcom’s opponents in Argentina organize rallies to prevent the use of US base in Chaco for spying and special operations against neighboring states – Bolivia, Paraguay and Brazil. But Capitanich insists that the airport in Resistencia (the province’s capital) will be used by Americans only in emergency situations (poor weather and climate conditions) and also as a storage and transshipment point (Centro de Operaciones y Almacenamiento).
He said he denied the version which was spread in social networks that Resistencia had turned into the Southcom’s base, that marines, tanks, aircraft and helicopters would soon come here and a naval station at the sea coast of Chaco would appear”. The governor is joking thinking that it is the best way to deny rumors: Chaco has no entry to the sea.
Colonel Edwin Passmore has contributed greatly into the implementation of Southcom’s project in Chaco. His work was covered by the Argentinean mass media in detail. A professional intelligence officer he served in Afghanistan, he was an advisor on intelligence in Kuwait’s Defense Ministry.
In 2005-2008, Passmore worked in Venezuela. The Venezuelan counter-intelligence many times fixed his meetings with conspirers from the military sphere. As a consequence, the US officer was deported from the country. Passmore’s last appointment was in Argentina.
It should be noted that the US embassy in Buenos Aires gathered numerous “disclosed” agents from the military intelligence and the CIA. So far they have managed to efficiently fulfill their tasks. Southcom has managed to “get a toehold” in Argentina and now it is necessary to press the success.
Their colleagues in Brazil have failed to create necessary conditions for the implementation of the “basic project” of Southcom. General Fraser visited the country five or six times under different excuses and even unveiled memorial boards of the US-Brazil military cooperation in the year of the Second World War.
So far Brazil, regardless of the blandishments of gringos, has refused to share its Alcantra base with the US. The reasons are clear: this spaceport on the Atlantic coast ensures scientific and technical progress of Brazil and its sovereignty in military technologies. Brazilian scientists and servicemen even blamed the CIA agents and US military intelligence for the failures of some of the previous launches.
If Americans settle down in Alcantra on legal grounds, Brazil may give up on its space program. The Empire does not want any competitors in Western hemisphere.
Speaking in the US Congress in March, General Fraser made it clear that Southcom expect a crisis in the development of the events in ALBA countries (Bolivarian alliance of peoples of Latin America). South is watching the processes in the region and is ready to act in compliance with the circumstances, he said. Fraser also mentioned the growing level of violence in those countries, the economic instability and geopolitical cataclysms.
All this will definitely affect the US citizens – civilians and servicemen who have something to do with Latin America. It was “the Iranian factor” which was especially mentioned in the international relations of ALBA countries. The US repeatedly declared that close ties with Teheran are inadmissible addressing it first of all to Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua.
Nevertheless, Iran’s “expansion” on the continent continues. The number of Iranian embassies has increased to 10 from 6, while the number of the cultural centers is 17. Southcom mentions all this in its reports as something alarming. Southcom is even more concerned about the regular flights Caracas-Teheran-Caracas carried out by Venezuelan airline company “Conviasa”. The mass media financed by the US intelligence received the information that the deployment of Iranian missiles in Venezuela is “quite likely”.
This is how step by step the US “motivates” options for using Southcom’s bases against “unfriendly regimes” in South America. We may assume that “preventive” actions will coincide with the start of the US and Israel’s aggression against Iran.
AUTHOR: Nil Nikandrov
Nil Nikandrov is a Moscow-based journalist and political analyst whose columns also regularly feature in the Russian-based online magazine Strategic Culture Foundation. Covering Latin America’s politics and strained relations with the US, Mr. Nikandrov is a renown critic of the devastating grip of neoliberal administrations on national economies. He offers on a regular basis commentaries unmasking the efforts made by the CIA and other Western intelligence services to undermine progressive governments in Latin America. N. Nikandrov has authored several books – both fiction and documentary studies – dedicated to Latin American themes, including the first Russian-language biography of H. Chavez.