Core driver: Cuba’s overwhelmingly primary objective is regime preservation – both under the Castros and the Cuban Revolution as a whole. Cuba will do virtually anything to preventing outside influence from hurting its message. Also, there will be a struggle to maintain regime legitimacy in the wake of Fidel’s impending death…and Raul will soon follow.
Shifts leading to CBRN – aggressive assault on the island could push Cuba to do anything; specifically if the attack comes from the US. That is the primary risk – but it’s a hard situation because Cuba would get crushed if they did use a CBRN against the US.
Operational history: according to some unconfirmed reports, Cuba started experimenting in chemical warfare during the Wars in Africa; Cuba learned a lot about chem weapon manufacturing from Vietnam, China and the USSR. Cuba has been accused of using CBRN, but without much confirmation. Cuba is deeply defensive and isolated, but it prefers guerrilla warfare.
Cuba is capable of producing a CBR weapon and could deploy if it was up against a wall. If it felt attacked by the US, it could, in theory, deploy. However, Cuba would have to do so as an independent actor – it’s doubtful Venezuela – close ally or not – could push Cuba.
The US, in general. Specifically, Miami would be a hot target because of the Cuban exile population there. Also, US petroleum installations in the Gulf of Mexico could be an easy target. Other US interest in the Caribbean – namely, Puerto Rico could be hit as well. It’s doubtful Cuba would avoid civilian areas.
The core driver for Argentina is state security and supremacy in the southern cone of South America. Basically, Argentina seeks to balance Chile and play on (what it wishes was) an equal playing field with Brazil. Argentina is cognizant that Brazil is a power house, but it wants to balance the region.
Shifts leading to CBRN – any nuclearization or other CBRN weaponization in Brazil or Venezuela. Venezuela is a much smaller threat, but Brazil is the key player – if it develops or deploys WMD CBRNs, Argentina will follow suit. The historical rivalry between Argentina and Brazil, currently becoming a regional leadership alliance of sorts, would reemerge. Argentina also has long-running conflicts with Chile, so Chile could emerge as a possible instigator of CBRN development and deployment in Argentina.
Operational History/ Operational Principals
Argentina really doesn’t get involved in much military combat. Its usual MO is political deterrence, diplomacy, and negotiation. Even during its tumultuous 1970’s insurgency, large scale conflict wasn’t really used – instead, direct engagement, kidnapping, etc were used. Argentina is involved in peacekeeping missions and has a well developed military.
What would lead to a shift? Firstly, a shift toward the usage of CBRN would be really rare and extreme – almost implausible. If there was a serious shift toward militarism in Venezuela (primarily) or Brazil or Argentina (secondarily), we could see some type of change in Argentina’s MO, but the interdependence and relationship within South America, between Argentina and its neighbors suggests that deployment of CBRN (especially by anyone other than Brazil) is really unlikely.
Argentina is unlikely to target any state or location for WMD CBRN deployment. In the extremely rare situation that it would use CBRNs, Argentina would likely target military establishments and infrastructure of an aggressor or attacker – but again – this attack would conventional; Argentina may have capabilities to produce CBRNs, but their deployment is unlikely. Civilian populations would not be targeted. Argentina wouldn’t hit Chile or Brazil – alliances are too strong and the fallout would be too high. Venezuela could get hit if it were to attack Chile.
The core driver for Brazil is territorial integrity. Brazil is a giant and its size is one of the key reasons it is the political and economic powerhouse of South America. Brazil has a huge expanse of difficult to patrol jungle and rainforest – and it works hard to preserve and monitor its borders. Much of the borders in South America are natural, geographically created, but the jungle is hard to divide, and therefore Brazil has to work hard to do so. Tied into the territorial preservation theme, Brazil wants regional supremacy and the ability to balance the international system -- it has huge political influence in Latin America, it is an economic leader, it is a key player with other large international players. Brazil intends to keep and protect this role as securely as it guards its borders.
Shifts leading to CBRN for Brazil are simple – any territorial or political encroachment. The most tangible example would be the emergence of a highly conventionally-weaponized Venezuela – something that is arguably happening right now. Chavez desire to lead Latin America is irksome to Brazil, which has slapped Chavez back in small political ways – at the Mercosur summit, via Chavez’s ally Morales in Bolivia. In addition, Venezuela has been acquiring a significant military arsenal of arms and aircraft from Russia. While there doesn’t appear to be an emerging threat of war from Venezuela, its actions could provoke a response from Brazil. I see WMD CBRN as highly unlikely, though.
Brazil’s operational history does not suggest it would get involved in a CBRN deployment. It participated in WWII (small unit) and was massacred. Otherwise, its involvement in conflict has been primarily domestic – though the counterinsurgency warfare from 1964-1989 was just as violent as a full out war. Its army is well-outfitted and it often participates in UN peacekeeping missions. Brazil has never ventured into the usage of CBRN – it uses political pressures to keep its stature.
Possible shifts – a rapid, violent militarization in Venezuela could provoke a response from Brazil, but the response would likely be conventionally military; Brazil has access to the production of CBRN, but hasn’t used them before. Its general reluctance to engage in conflict militarily suggests it would be willing to send in the army, but not the scientists. I can’t see another plausible development that would push Brazil to the CBRN level.
Venezuela would be the key target for Brazil. Brazil would be more likely to launch a conventional attack – either retaliatory or preemptive – against Venezuela if it were to perceive a threat or be attacked by it. Targets would be more along the lines of Venezuelan military or infrastructure points, and less at civilian population centers. Brazil is much stronger and better equipped than Venezuela – even with its new toys – and can really put down Chavez swiftly, if needed. A WMD CBRN attack would be unlikely. Chavez doesn’t have CBRNs either, and thus a conflict between the states would be highly unlikely to contain CBRN warfare.
Core driver: regime preservation; Chavez is insecure and postures to make up for his shaky position; there have been coups before, so it’s not out of the question that the political system could get shaken up again. Chavez also wants regional leadership and global dependency on Venezuela for oil.
If Venezuela is under a serious assault from the US, there could be some move toward CBRN proliferation and deployment. Venezuela is highly unlikely to use CBRN on the first strike – it would be purely retaliatory. Weakness could push Chavez to acquire such weapons.
Operational History/ Operational Principals
Venezuela is a defense based system; its army is pretty well equipped; Chavez has been acquiring even more military toys from Russia – it looks that Venezuela’s focus is conventional arms. Venezuela is heavily dependent on civilian militias for regime survival and stability within the country – namely for domestic protection.
Shifts: serious threats from the US could prove problematic and lead to some degree of proliferation. There are already allegations (unsubstantiated) that Venezuela has bought chemical weapons from Spain. Also, there is some talk that Venezuela is seeking nukes from DPRK – but this is all really implausible; Venezuela would want to buy, but DPRK isn’t keen on selling. It would all be for defense, not first strike. But even from a defense perspective, it seems unlikely that Venezuela would proliferate. The only possibilities for it are chem or bio weapons – which it could work on with Cuba – but even if it wanted them, VZ lacks the facilities to store these materials, the labs to develop them internally, or the deployment mechanisms. I think VZ would, in theory, like to have nuclear power, but it would be starting from square one (since DPRK wouldn’t sell to it) and doesn’t seem to be interested in that type of long term development right now – the conventional arms are intimidating enough. I could see VZ ramping up a CBRN program if Brazil nuclearized, though.
Colombia and the US; it’s doubtful Venezuela would take care to avoid civilian areas. Any other US interest in reach would also be targets. US military bases in Latin America would be key targets – Manta in Ecuador; everything in Paraguay.
Chile’s core drivers are territorial integrity, regime perpetuation, economic development and some measure of regional leadership. Chile tries to hold its own against Argentina and Brazil – both of which are more politically powerful. But Chile has worked on improving its economic importance, making it a viable player in Latin America. It has one of the region’s most advanced and powerful militaries and acquired close ties with powerful international countries.
Shifts leading to CBRN: this would have to be a nuclearization in Brazil or Argentina. Some degree of rapid militarization in Venezuela could provoke a response, but the response would likely be conventional – use of CBRN would be implausible.
Operational History/ Operational Principals
Chile has not fought a war in over 100 years, but has long running tensions with Argentina, Peru, and Brazil. The military is well organized and armed, but isn’t usually involved in any type of conflict. Military police work against any type of domestic unrest.
An interest in developing the existing nuclear weapon program would indicate a shift in operational behavior…but this is not really definite – Chile may desire to improve its programs for purely energy reasons. This is a possible overt scenario.
Targets – Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela. Chile doesn’t have serious disputes and would be really unlikely to deploy a CBRN – the fallout of doing so would be too high. If Chile did use CBRNs, it is likely to target military and infrastructure centers – not population centers. The interdependence and relationship among Latin American countries would make civilian attacks really