Birds of a Feather Dept.

What do Hugo Chavez, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Vladimir Putin have in common? Many things, in fact. All three lead increasingly repressive petro-states whose regimes are kept in power by the high price of oil and the power it purchases. All are dealing heavily in the world of armaments, with Russia selling weaponry and technology to both Venezuela and Iran. Proving that birds of a feather do flock together, Chavez again visited Russia on Thursday, likely to augment the billions of dollars in military jets, helicopters, and other weapons his country has already purchased from Russia. Although exact numbers are difficult to find, it it believed that over 50% of Russian military weapons output is exported. That makes it one of the few sectors other than gas an oil to improve over the past six years.

Chavez will continue on to visit a few other members of the would-be dictator club. Today he is in Belarus and then he moves on to Iran. Perhaps this gang gets together to exchange tips on repressing the media, jailing dissidents, and shoving around foreign companies. This time around, however, the Russian parliament denied Chavez permission to address the Duma. Putin is meeting with George W Bush on Sunday and it would have been awkward after giving Chavez an even larger platform to call Bush “Satan” and to talk about “returning to the ideas of Vladimir Lenin.”