DEBATES IN Washington about Hugo Chávez often end with the dismissive conclusion that the Venezuelan strongman poses no threat to the United States. If that’s right, it’s not because he isn’t trying. For years he has been traveling the world in an effort to build alliances with present or former U.S. enemies, from Cuba to Vietnam. He dreams of standing at the head of a global anti-American military alliance. Most of his efforts have been rebuffed; some have produced mere buffoonery, like his annual, ludicrous love-fest with Belarusan dictator Alexander Lukashenko.
But Mr. Chavez has clearly forged a bond with one leader who is as reckless and ambitious as he is: Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The growing fruits of this relationship, and its potential consequences for U.S. security, have not gotten as much attention as they deserve.