Yes! I finally remembered what the fuss about the alleged supersized Iranian embassy in Nicaragua reminded me of.
Back in 1979, when Carter had sugar-plum visions of detente with Moscow, U.S. intelligence suddenly discovered a Soviet “combat brigade” in Cuba. It actually turned out to be the usual set of Russian advisors helping Havana in the spirit of socialist fraternity. However, the uproar derailed the proposed SALT II arms control treaty.
Now Hillary Clinton suddenly complains about a giant Iranian embassy in Managua, except that’s news to the Managuans, according to the Washington Post. But the WashPost and Clinton apparently got the news from the Miami Herald, which had referred to the number of Iranian diplomats rather than the size of the embassy building.
Either way, it’s interesting that Iranian penetratiion of Latin America became an issue just as Obama considered a more conciliatory approach to Iran (Clinton mentioned the alleged embassy in May, before the Iranian protests).
I doubt that Iran has the resources to turn Nicaragua into another Cuba. This is not an issue that should poison an already tense atmosphere. However, if Iran can expand its influence in Central America, that would be worrisome.
Just as the U.S. maintains nuclear weapons as a deterrent, Iran wields the threat of unleashing a wave of terrorist attacks, especially from Hezbollah, which has a covert presence in the United States. Two deadly car bombs attacks against Jewish and Israeli sites in Argentina in the 1990s, which were likely launched by Iran, shows that’s no idle threat. Major Iranian diplomatic missions in weak Latin American nations would be an ideal conduit for supporting terror.
Personally, I don’t mind Ahmadinejad and Chavez as brothers-in-hating the U.S. I think both men will be gone sooner rather than later once they’ve destroyed their economies. But they’ll be tempted to do a lot of mischief on the way out.