Democratic frontrunner says overthrow of elected government of Venezuela at gunpoint just another benign US effort to “restore democracy” in Latin America
(May 5, 2019) — Despite progressive critics and anti-war voices speaking forcefully against the Trump administration’s overt backing of the attempted coup d’état by rightwing opposition forces in Venezuela on Tuesday, 2020 Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden aligned himself with the White House by throwing his support behind the overthrow effort.
“The violence in Venezuela today against peaceful protesters is criminal,” Biden tweeted on Tuesday. “Maduro’s regime is responsible for incredible suffering. The U.S. must stand with the National Assembly & Guaidó in their efforts to restore democracy through legitimate, internationally monitored elections.”
But what Biden embraced as an effort to “restore democracy,” many foreign policy experts—ones not willing to give the benefit of the doubt to people like national security advisor John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and President Donald Trump—called something else entirely: a violent effort by Venezuela’s rightwing elites, led by Juan Guaidó, to overthrow the elected government of President Nicols Maduro.
CODEPINK — To people of conscience:
Mike Pence, John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, Marco Rubio, Elliott Abrams, & Donald Trump are actively engineering a coup to overthrow a democratically-elected Latin American government. Speak out against US imperialism TODAY! #HandsOffVenezuela
To @jguaido, the National Assembly and all the freedom-loving people of Venezuela who are taking to the streets today in #operacionlibertad—Estamos con ustedes! We are with you! America will stand with you until freedom & democracy are restored. Vayan con dios! #FreeVenezuela
In subsequent comments during a campaign stop, Biden called for “calm” in Venezuela but also repeated the White House position that Maduro is not—despite his win in last year’s contested elections which the opposition largely boycotted—the legitimate leader of Venezuela:
Biden wasn’t alone among top Democrats. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others also expressed support for the military uprising launched by Guaidó.
For critics, however, one of the salient dynamics about Biden’s announced support for the U.S.-backed coup in Venezuela in 2019 is what it suggests the former vice president has learned—or rather has not learned—about U.S. intervention (aka “meddling”) in the affairs of foreign nations since his support for the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Wouldn’t it be ironic if Democrats – after spending 3 years indignantly protesting “meddling” by foreign countries in our internal affairs – end up marching behind the person who said this in 2002 about why he supports Bush & Cheney removing Iraq’s government?
Interviewed by Democracy Now! early on Wednesday, economist and foreign policy expert Jeffrey Sachs, who directs the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, and Professor Miguel Tinker Salas of Pomona College discussed what they both agree is the dangerous and counterproductive agenda that leaders like Trump, Bolten, Biden, and Pelosi are now pushing in Venezuela.
“What’s so stupid about these American policies, these neocon policies,” said Sachs, “is they do create disaster, but they don’t achieve even the political goals of these nasty people like Bolton. It’s not as if they’re effective and nasty; they’re completely ineffective and totally nasty at the same time.”
While acknowledging that Maduro has certainly made mistakes and legitimate criticisms of his government exist, Tinker Salas said the history of U.S. intervention in Latin America—not to mention elsewhere in the world— shows overthrowing governments in this manner “doesn’t produce the change that most people want. And what it does is it aggravates conditions for the majority of the population.”
Sachs—who last week released a detailed study along with economist Mark Weisbrot on the devastating impact that U.S.-imposed sanctions have had on the Venezuelan economy—added that people backing Guaidó and the coup effort are really just embracing “normal U.S. right-wing foreign policy, nothing different.”
“This is the same foreign policy that we saw throughout Latin America in the 20th century,” Sachs added. “It’s the same foreign policy that we saw catastrophically in the Middle East. This is Mr. Bolton. This is Mr. Bolton’s idea of diplomacy. This is Trump’s idea of diplomacy. You punch someone in the face. You crush your opponent. You try whatever way you can to get your way. It’s very simpleminded. It’s very crude.”
“And,” concluded Sachs, “it never works. It just leads to catastrophe.”
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Sure. Let’s Invade Venezuela. Another Jolly Little War.
More aimless imperial over-reach, more lack of strategy, more enemies generated. The only big winner? The Pentagon and military industrial complex.
(May 4, 2019) — Sure. Let’s invade Venezuela. Another jolly little war. It’s full of commies and has a sea of oil. The only thing those Cuban-loving Venezuelans lack are weapons of mass destruction.
This week, leading US neocons openly threatened that if the CIA’s latest attempts to stage a coup to overthrow Venezuela’s Maduro government failed, Washington might send in the Marines.
Well, the coup was a big fiasco and the Venezuelan army didn’t overthrow President Maduro. The CIA also failed to overthrow governments in Moscow, Tehran and Damascus. Its only ‘success’ to date has been in overthrowing Ukraine’s pro-Moscow government and putting a bunch of corrupt clowns in its place at a cost near $10 billion.
The US has not waged a major successful war since World War II – unless you count invading Grenada, Panama and Haiti, or bombing the hell out of Iraq, Syria, Somalia and Libya. That’s a sobering thought given the Pentagon’s recent announcement that it is cutting back on little colonial wars (aka ‘the war on terror’) to get ready for real big wars against Russia and China, or even North Korea.
Venezuela is in a huge economic mess thanks to the crackpot economic policies of the Chavez and Maduro governments – and US economic sabotage. But my first law of international affairs is: ‘Every nation has the absolute god-given right to mismanage its own affairs and elect its own crooks or idiots.’
Now, however, the administration’s frenzied neocons want to start a war against Venezuela, a large, developed nation of 32.7 million, at the same time we are threatening war against Iran, interfering all around Africa, and confronting Russia, China and perhaps North Korea. Large parts of the Mideast and Afghanistan lie in ruins thanks to our ‘liberation’ campaigns.
Invading Venezuela would not be much of a problem for the US military: half the population hates the current government and might welcome the Americans. Venezuela’s military has only limited combat value. Right-wing regimes in neighboring Colombia and Brazil might join the invasion.
But what then? Recall Iraq. The US punched through the feeble Iraqi Army whose strength had been wildly exaggerated by the media. Once US and British forces settled in to occupation duties, guerilla forces made their life difficult and bloody. Iraqi resistance continues today, sixteen years later. The same would likely happen in Venezuela.
There is deep anti-American sentiment in Latin America that existed long before Col. Chavez. Recall, for example, the large anti-American riots that greeted Vice President Nixon’s visit to Caracas in 1958.
‘Yankees Go Home’ is a rallying cry for much of Latin America. Blundering into Venezuela, another nation about which the Trump administration knows or understands little, would stir up a hornet’s next. Their ham-handed efforts to punish Cuba and whip up the far right Cuban-American vote in Florida would galvanize anti-American anger across Latin America. Beware the ghost of Fidel.
Talks over Venezuela are underway between Washington and Moscow. Neither country has any major interest in Venezuela. Moscow is stirring the pot there to retaliate for growing US involvement in Russia’s backyard and Syria. Both the US and Russia should get the hell out of Venezuela and mind their own business.
Instead, we hear crazy proposals to send 5,000 mercenaries to overthrow the Maduro regime. How well did the wide-scale use of US-financed mercenaries work in Iraq and Afghanistan? A complete flop. The only thing they did competently was wash dishes at our bases, murder civilians, and play junior Rambos.
those who don’t like the American Raj, a US invasion of Venezuela would mark a
step forward in the crumbling of the empire. More aimless imperial over-reach,
more lack of strategy, more enemies generated.
The big winner would, of course, be the Pentagon and military industrial complex. More billions spent on a nation most Americans could not find on a map if their lives depended on it, more orders for ‘counter-insurgency’ weapons, more military promotions, and cheers from Fox News and wrestling fans.
Worst of all, the US could end up feeding and caring for wrecked Venezuela. How did we do with storm-ravaged Puerto Rico? It’s still in semi-ruin. Few want Venezuela’s thick, heavy oil these days.
Venezuela could turn out to be a big, fat Tar Baby.
© 2018 Eric Margolis
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.