Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
January 13, 2007
WAR: Yes, It's An Axis

The thin, mustachioed Jew-hating fanatic and the burly buffoon - haven't we seen this movie before? Well, their axis has come out in the open:

Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Saturday they would help finance investment projects in other countries seeking to thwart U.S. domination.

The two countries — whose fiery anti-American leaders' moves to extend their influence have alarmed Washington — had previously revealed plans for a joint $2 billion US fund to finance investments in Venezuela and Iran.

But the leaders said Saturday the money would also be used for projects in friendly countries throughout the developing world.

"It will permit us to underpin investments … above all in those countries whose governments are making efforts to liberate themselves from the [U.S.] imperialist yoke," Chavez said.

"This fund, my brother," the Venezuelan president said, referring affectionately to Ahmadinejad, "will become a mechanism for liberation."

"Death to U.S. imperialism!" he said.

Ahmadinejad, who is starting a tour of left-leaning countries in the region, called it a "very important" decision that would help promote "joint co-operation in third countries," especially in Latin America and Africa.

At least our enemies don't hide their enmity. The question is, what are we prepared to do about them?

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:37 PM | War 2007-14 | Comments (30) | TrackBack (0)

You open the valve on our oil reserves and provide our own oil instead of imorting it. At the same time you blitz a real energy policy to replace oil. By removing the largest oil market in the world the global price would plummet and these tinhorns would lose the funding they ahve backing them. Without money they would wither and go away.

Posted by: maddirishman at January 14, 2007 10:00 AM

So, if a nation dares to speak about against US efforts to dominate markets, then it deserves to be attacked?

Is this what you guys are saying?

Posted by: Mike at January 14, 2007 11:17 AM

Mike, to ask the question is to answer it. Striking against countries that challenge US efforts to dominate markets is the history of American foreign policy.

Posted by: Steve at January 14, 2007 1:09 PM

You don't touch the SPR, it's not on the table. We can't blitz a replacement policy, it's not that simple. We can waste money trying, odds of sucess extremely long in the short term. With crude near 50$ neither country will have much in the way of cash, I don't see them funding these projects. Additionally, both are facing significant production declines. I'm less familar with Iran, but Chavez is wearing down the infrastruture, not reinvesting or maintaining. By the time we have alt energy ready to compete in the market these guys will be on the ropes, or in the ground. On the subject, I'm still shocked that an administraion lead by Bush and Cheney produced that pathetic SOTU effort last year. The addiction tripe made for decent headlines, by the nonsense about ethanol? Garbage. Though it did create an ebtertaining, highly tradable bubble in the short term.

Posted by: abe at January 14, 2007 2:16 PM

Oh no, pity the poor and innocent totalitarian dictatorships that are being bullied by the US. The daily oppression that they endure forces them to brutalize their own people and ruin their own economies. If only we were nicer to them all would be well.

Posted by: andrew at January 14, 2007 4:48 PM

I've been writing about the need for a coherent energy policy before. We will have one sooner or later, more likely the result of business investment far more than a Manhattan Project type. And so far no one has mentioned, with this clear axis of evil, and yes it is, "The Monroe Doctrine." Chavez doesn't get us at all, does he?

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at January 14, 2007 5:57 PM

Personally, I think Iran and Venezuela should be encouraged to fund as many development projects in the third world as they like. Both countries have been systematically underinvesting in their own petroleum assets for years, and sinking money they could use for that purpose into countries like Bolivia and Zimbabwe will simply accelerate thier decline. The influence they buy with it will evaporate as soon as they can't maintain the steady flow of cash.

In reality of course, this is just PR-stunt diplomacy, like Hugo's paying oil bills for poor folks in the US a couple of years ago. Fund a few Potemkin projects and publicize them to death. Yawn.

Posted by: rbeypw at January 15, 2007 1:27 PM

Crank, the answer to your closing question, as I assume you know, is "Nothing." And it's likely to stay that way for some time.

Posted by: Jeff A at January 15, 2007 1:41 PM

Hey, I agree that this investment thing itself is self-defeating. I don't regard Iran and Venezuela as any threat to our markets, folks. Those kinds of threats can be dealt with in kind, anyhow.

What concerns me is you have Venezuela, which is a menace to the security of many of its neighbors and thus at least an indirect threat to ours, openly allying itself with Iran, which is a major threat to many of its neighbors, is making war on us in Iraq (as a continuance of hostilities it has pursued on and off since 1979) and is developing the capability to be a very serious threat to our security.

Posted by: The Crank at January 15, 2007 2:21 PM

Venezuela . . . is a menace to the security of many of its neighbors and thus at least an indirect threat to ours

Iran . . . is making war on us in Iraq

Crank, them's some bold words! Got any substantiation for those two assertions?

Not to mention, with 150,000 of our troops in Iraq, more in Afghanistan, more in Korea, and yet more around the globe, who's gonna do the fighting if we decide to accept the agressive gambits of the Iranian-Venezuelan "Axis"? You in favor of a draft?

I'm not willing to put my 39 year-old ass in the line of fire for such abstract "dangers." You're a bit younger than I am, right? You willing to pick up a rifle and go fight? If not you, then who? Where are these troops?

Posted by: Mike at January 15, 2007 5:13 PM

Watch any political talk shows over the weekend? There was the "Ginning up the war in Iran" topic and the "If you aren't with the President you are with Bin Laden" crap being trowled out. Nice.

Ahmadinejad's poll position in Iran was worse than Bush's here in the US (which is astonishing) until the Admin started pumping up the war in/on Iran. Don't these guys ever learn any new tricks?

Posted by: jim at January 15, 2007 7:32 PM

Don't these guys ever learn any new tricks?

You're assuming, Jim, that the Administration isn't happy that A-Jad's in power. Seems to me that he's just the guy they want right now.

Posted by: Mike at January 16, 2007 6:57 AM

I agree with Mike. The more we try to push him around, the more the Iranians, who can't stand him, will rally around him. And I LOVE the A-Jad name.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at January 16, 2007 9:40 AM

And I LOVE the A-Jad name.

I wish I could remember where I first saw that, Daryl. I think it may just have been a commenter on a random blog, but I'm not sure. Whoever the guy was (not me!), he's a genius.

I'm glad to quote him.

Posted by: Mike at January 16, 2007 9:50 AM

We shouldn't do anything about Chavez. The people of Venezuela will become poorer, it's democratic institutions corrupted, it's economy poisoned, but past misadventures in Latin America make it pretty clear that the U.S. can do pretty little without making things worse.

Chavez may be a destabilizing influence in Latin America, but Venezuela is no Iran. It has no revolution to export. In the end, its socialist model is no more of a threat to U.S. interests than Norway's.

Posted by: Henry at January 16, 2007 11:41 AM

"Death to U.S. imperialism!" he said.

Read the quote carefully, Crank. Not that I'm pretending these guys don't hate America and enjoying being a thorn in our side, but that is not really such a radical or punishable offense—to oppose imperialism.

Make the case that the imperialism doesn't exist. It's pretty hard to do if you also advocate eliminating any opposition...

Posted by: Mr. Furious at January 16, 2007 12:27 PM

I'm not suggesting we invade Venezuela. Chavez is mostly a threat to neighbors like Colombia by his support for violent insurgencies in the region. But he bears very careful watching to the extent that he gets more involved with our adversaries in the Middle East.

As for the Iranians, they've been supporting Sadr and other Shi'ite forces to fuel the civil strife there and supplying weapons for use against US troops. It's more than past time to recognize this as an act of hostility. That doesn't mean we should declare total war if we can avoid it but we need to make it not worth Iran's while to continue supporting attacks on American soldiers.

Posted by: The Crank at January 16, 2007 12:40 PM

We (the US) won't have to do anything about Iran, our friends the Sauds will take care of things for us. You see today how Saudi Arabia refused the call for a emergency OPEC meeting where they might talk about production cuts to keep prices from falling.

Iran heavily subsidizes the cost of oil for it's citizens. Easy to do this when prices are high, they can more than make up for the loss. However when prices fall, the financial noose gets very tight in Tehran. The sauds will basically starve Iran financially if they continue to act up (cause problems in Iraq, continue nuclear development etc).

Iran is screwed six ways to Sunday, nothing they can do about it. They've got severe population problems, read Spengler's work at the Asia Times (

Posted by: SJGMoney at January 16, 2007 12:40 PM

we need to make it not worth Iran's while to continue supporting attacks on American soldiers.

No American soldiers in the region to attack might be a nice start.

Posted by: Mike at January 16, 2007 1:52 PM

I was listening to the BBC (or MarketPlace?) and they were talking about the problems A-Jad faces at home—budgets, opposition from MPs, etc. It's easy to forget that this guy runs a country, and has mundane duties, and isn't just a fiery figurehead who bashes the US...

Posted by: Mr. Furious at January 16, 2007 1:59 PM

"You see today how Saudi Arabia refused the call for a emergency OPEC meeting where they might talk about production cuts to keep prices from falling"
That's one theory. The other, any idea how the last round of cuts went? Hint: not so well. If they announce more cuts, without a corresponding drop in prodution they've lost any ability to drive the market.

Bombing terror support and training installations and interdicting at the border where possible would also be a nice start.

Posted by: abe at January 16, 2007 2:08 PM

Where has Crank been? I've been waiting for his "thoughtful" commentary on the Stimson comments i.e. that pressure should be brought to bear on law firms that defend detainees and Stimson's insinuating that terrorists are paying the legal fees. You'd think a lawyer who waxes constitutional so often would have felt the need to write something.
I love your baseball commentary, Crank. But you sure are a Bushbot. Think for yourself, man.


Posted by: dianbi at January 16, 2007 8:36 PM

I try to avoid getting into the intersection of politics and big law firms. Don't blog where you eat, you know.

Posted by: The Crank at January 16, 2007 8:46 PM

fair enough. But hardly satisfying.
Still the baseball/bushbot crack stands.


Posted by: dianbi at January 16, 2007 9:01 PM


This is not the forum if you are looking for self-critical remarks from GOP honks. Crank is a super-smart guy with energy and prose directed in wrong-headed/neo-con direction. This is one of the best forums on the web but not a very self-evaluatory one.

Posted by: jim at January 17, 2007 12:35 AM

If that's what you are looking for, dianbi, go check out John Cole. He has effectively been giving up on the GOP for a year or two. Yesterday, he pretty much closed the book.

Posted by: Mr. Furious at January 17, 2007 9:28 AM

Heh. How'd you get that lump on the back of yer head Crank? I didn't see that one coming either.

FWIW, I think the best thing to do about Chavez is ignore him. He's close enough that if needed we could swat him like a fly from US land bases. He wants to be Fidel junior. Fine, fine. Someone has to be the anti-gringo guy in South America it seems. But he's no threat to us.

Iran with the bomb though...that's another subject entirely.

I'm beginning to think we are so screwed. The cold war seems such a stable time in retrospect - who'd have thought that would happen?

Posted by: Dwilkers at January 17, 2007 9:54 AM

Dwilkers, there's not much point responding to insults. But I prefer the term "Reaganite," myself.

Furious, I was unaware that there was any loyalty to the GOP left for Cole to discard.

Posted by: The Crank at January 17, 2007 10:39 AM

OK, while Iran gets brought up, they are now "upset" about the "kidnapping" of 5 Iranians from their consulate. My heart bleeds.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at January 18, 2007 10:56 AM

Yeah, that's rich. Oil under 50$, inventory numbers were huge.

Posted by: abe at January 18, 2007 2:27 PM
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