Is U.S. unease with Chavez warranted?

Assuming that the “Annual Operating Plan 2007,” which details Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s intentions to boost Venezuela’s cultural and economic influence in Paraguay, is authentic, it will further bolster claims that Chavez has imperial ambitions similar to those he so fervently denounces the United States for having. Chavez realizes that the age of traditional empire, in which stronger nations exercised explicit influence over weaker ones, died with the Soviet Union. Facilitating his goal of perpetuating a “21st century socialism,” he is adhering to the new rules of empire, which dictate that economic and cultural clout must take precedence over outright political domination, and that affected populations have become too smart to be easily manipulated.

That Chavez wishes to shower South America with petrodollars in an effort to raise his profile should surprise no one; if the U.S. doesn’t like it, let Washington compete with Caracas for who can do the most for Paraguay.