Tuesday, March 04, 2008

How to Drive a Hugo Off a Cliff in South America

Here's one from John Noonan that the peacemongers are sure to despise. A blog posting at the Weekly Standard:

If Colombia and Venezuela were to come to fisticuffs over this latest South American crisis, the Bogota government could quickly find itself in trouble.

Colombia's Army is both larger than Chavez's and battle-hardened from years of fighting the FARC. They know the terrain, have greater mobility via their enormous helicopter fleet (including 90 modern Blackhawks), and are supported by a Colombian Air Force that specializes in close air support.

But Chavez would undoubtedly control the skies, or at least come close to it. The Venezuelan Air Force sports 80 or so operational fighters, including F-16s and Sukhoi-30s. Colombia's Air Force, postured for the close air support mission, has only a single squadron of 20 Dassault Mirage V/Kfirs, airframes that wouldn't last long in an aerial bar fight with their socialist opponents. Without freedom of the skies to clear the way for Colombian Tucanos and helicopters, Bogota's advantage on the ground is sharply reduced.

Colombia is our ally, FARC is our mutual enemy, and Chavez has built an entire career as an anti-American posturer. So here's a three-fer: Let's have joint U.S.-Colombia exercises involving a squadron or two of our new F-22s. It would concentrate the mind of Chavez, who adores his new Sukhois. His prized fighter-force would soon become scrap metal against F-22s.

The presence of the Raptor would at once remind Chavez of his place in the hemispheric pecking order, help prevent a war, aid an ally, and reassure the American public of the value of the F-22. Let's get those Raptors to Colombia!

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