On 31 January 2007, Hugo Chavez was in effect declared dictator of Venezuela by the deluded masses of Venezuela’s National Assembly. Through threats of force and promises of a utopian future, Chavez deftly managed to convince broad swaths of his nation that he had the best interests of Venezuela in mind when he convinced them to vest control of their nation in him. Of course, as with all despotic dictators, Chavez had something far different in mind, although to his credit it was world domination and not simply using his nation as his own playground.
By the end of 2007, Brother Chavez, as he called himself to maintain his socialist guise to the people, had effectively ended private ownership and free market capitalism in Venezuela. Most of his opponents fled, succumbed, were jailed, or disappeared, due to the effectiveness of his “Social Guard”, which he created in the spring of 2007. This paramilitary organization served as Chavez’s private police and military force to great effect during this period of establishing absolute control.
Chavez’s establishment of absolute control was fueled by the country’s substantial oil wealth. While the US Congress voted by mid 2007 to embargo Venezuelan oil, alternative buyers like China and North Korea ensured that Venezuela continued to swim in capital. Chavez wisely adopted a Persian Gulf stance with that revenue, paying stipends to great masses of Venezuelans, who chose to ignore Chavez’s excesses in favor of being paid off.
Also by the end of 2007, Chavez had more or less cemented his alliance with Iran. While the Ayatollahs allowed Ahmadinejad to be defeated in the 2007 national elections, the work their favorite son did in establishing the kinds of international contacts Iran had lacked since 1979 allowed Iran to develop a strong ally in the fledgling dictatorship of Venezuela.
The core of this alliance was the exchange of military personnel and materiel between the two countries. True to his promise, Chavez clandestinely sent six of his American made F-16s to Iran in return for military training and hardware provided primarily by elite Iranian special forces units. These units also served to build up already existent Hezbollah training facilities in the region, which Chavez granted full freedom to operate and train.
It was at these deep jungle and mountain facilities that the first signs of trouble began. Realizing that the US, now closely monitoring Venezuelan sea traffic after the F-16 debacle, would detect major arms smuggled into Venezuela via sea transport, Chavez colluded with the Iranians to build several weapons productions facilities inside Venezuela. Evidence exists that these facilities were built before 2008, however they did not begin military production until early that year.
In early 2008, U.S. spy satellite reconnaissance detected what appeared to be the construction of several ballistic missile silos inside the jungle and mountain training camps. These fears were confirmed in March of 2008, when a US reconnaissance UAV over flight revealed an Iranian Shahab type missile, dubbed the Shahab-VX by US intelligence analysts, being installed in one of the recently completed silos.
This news did not break until May of 2008, when classified documents related to the ongoing surveillance of the sites was leaked to the New York Times. A public furor ensued, with newly elected President Bill Richardson claiming that the intelligence information had been withheld because intelligence estimates indicated the Shahab-VX could not reach the US mainland from their silos in Iran.
Nevertheless, the Democratic controlled Congress passed a measure authorizing President Richardson to use force against Venezuela if necessary and to pursue all means to stop the deployment of the Iranian missiles to Venezuela. In a side event, Senator John Kerry voted for the measure before publicly proclaiming that he did not vote for the measure because he did not believe the US Military was smart enough to undertake such a mission so soon after being defeated by the unilateral withdrawal of US Forces from Iraq that had just occurred.
Meanwhile, the US and the world were caught off-guard by the successful launch of a series of intermediate range ballistic missiles by North Korea into the Pacific. Initially, world intelligence agencies identified the missile as a now functional variant of the Taep’o-dong-2 missile first misfired in 2006, but soon realized that the missile was actually the Shahab-VX, which the Iranians had subcontracted the North Koreans to develop and test.
That test proved a startling reality. In fact, the Iranian missiles based in Venezuela were capable of reaching deep into the southern third of the US. The panic induced by this realization in the US was both immediate and embarrassing, as Americans rushed to supermarkets and video stores to stock up on necessities in what was largely portrayed as an impending attack. Meanwhile, several local news affiliates began running a report based entirely on a fictitious news article posted on the Internet that the Iranian missiles were tipped with chemical and nuclear warheads.
As the panic ensued, President Richardson declared martial law in the US, deploying US Forces to control riotous conditions in several US cities for the first time since the middle 1800s. The move was eventually upheld by the Supreme Court who voted 5-4 to uphold the emergency measure and strike down the War Powers Act and the Posse Comitatus Act as a clear and present danger to the safety and security of American citizens notwithstanding the clear protections of the constitution.
While all of this was taking place, Iran took the opportunity of distracted American attention to launch another border war between Israel and Hezbollah. This skirmish, however, ended far more quickly than the devastating 34-day battle of 2006, as the Israelis deployed a highly trained and until that moment secret special forces unit to track down and kill most of Hezbollah’s effective fighters in Lebanon.
The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who was elected after the collapse of Olmert’s government in the face of renewed Palestinian terrorism in mid 2007, realized that the situation with Iran was getting extremely out of hand, issued the Interdiction Executive Order in September 2008. This order activated several battalions of Israeli special forces that had been secretly operating around the world up until that point.
These special forces units, acting swiftly and with incredible precision, simultaneously attached and destroyed the silos in Venezuela, missile production facilities in Iran and North Korea, and detonated a large explosive device in the national command center of the Iranian military, effectively eliminating the Iranian ability to respond. It was later revealed that this operation was facilitated logistically by the Japanese, who had colluded with the Israelis against such a threat by hosting Israel’s special forces units in the Pacific.
While this was going on, the US Military reversed the martial law decree by deposing both the President and Congress. This action was upheld by the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision in which they noted that all members of the all-volunteer US Military swore to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States as their first order of business and that the government had violate that Constitution. The day, known thereafter as Liberation Day, was eventually established by Constitutional Amendment as the day all national elections would take place on.
Once order was restored in the US, after a three-month campaign period that resulted in the complete reelection of Congress and the Presidency. Newly elected President, Sean Hannity, who was credited with helping save the nation through his radio and television shows, deployed troops to the U.S.-Mexican border and back to Iraq at the behest of the beleaguered Iraqi government. He also enacted a forceful blockade of Venezuela by threatening military action against its neighbors if it did not comply.
Cowed by this forceful return to the international stage, the world joined the embargo against Venezuela, and by the end of 2008, Chavez’s government was overthrown by mobs angry that their oil subsidies had been cut off. The newly established interim government of Venezuela invited US Forces into the country as a stabilization force in return for renewed access to Venezuela’s oil reserves.
With that, the Venezuelan Missile Crisis of 2008 ended.
UPDATE: I updated this post on 9 December 2010 to correct some special character issues and because of this.