This seems like one of those wild card happenstances that can totally screw up what everyone in the U.S. might have thought would be happening in the current political contest here – giving meaning to the notion that a lot can happen between now and November:

South America was on the brink of war yesterday as Venezuela and Ecuador amassed troops on the Colombian border in response to the killing of a Marxist rebel leader.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez threatened to join the rebels in a war to overthrow hard-line Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, a key ally of the United States, deploying tanks, fighter jets and thousands of troops along the Colombian border.

A key question here is whether Hugo Chavez is willing to take the leap – the military leap – of faith as it were. He’s not had to do a lot of that type of thing. He’s had more of the luxury of taking pot shots from the peanut gallery at countries actually involved in conflicts. Wonder if he knows what he is getting into.