(May 7, 2019) — Two months ago, I heard a story. You heard it too, if you went anywhere near a television or a newspaper in the United States. The government of Venezuela needed to be overthrown because it wouldn’t allow in humanitarian aid.
The story was false, of course. The United States had imposed brutal sanctions on Venezuela for years, resulting in 40,000 deaths (with more being added every day) and sought to cut off electricity, and had no more interest in aiding humanity than ExxonMobil has in sunrises, children, and rainbows. There are many places on earth in desperate need of humanitarian aid, so that someone actually concerned about humanity would have had no trouble finding somewhere else to deliver their aid.
Not only that, but Venezuela was in fact busy allowing in tons of humanitarian aid (needed largely because of US sanctions) from any nation or agency not attempting to overthrow the Venezuelan government. The United States was apparently trying to ship weapons in with which to take over Venezuela — an overthrow that the US National Security Advisor said would be on behalf of US oil companies.
The outrages and atrocities of the Venezuelan government are, of course, matched by those of dozens of other governments, including the US government, and would be far outstripped by a US war on Venezuela. Moreover, the US wars and coups marketed as humanitarian that have ended up (shockingly each time) as devastating crimes against humanity have included Libya, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and dozens and dozens more.
The only humanitarian wars that have ever benefitted humanity have been the imaginary ones that people at think tanks funded by weapons makers keep telling us should have happened but didn’t — as the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) did on Wednesday citing Rwanda in the usual false manner.
But let’s set all context and actual facts aside for a moment in order to play along with the propaganda. Let’s assume that the media outlets that seem unaware of the US sanctions or eager to support them, that falsely report that Juan Guaidó has been elected president, that falsely report that government forces block humanitarian aid and burn aid trucks (actually burned by coup proponents), that falsely report that Guaidó has taken over an airport, and that fail to acknowledge the illegality of overthrowing governments or even to recall Donald Trump’s acknowledgement that such actions are disastrous prior to entering the White House (Trump went so far as to pretend to have opposed the 2003-begun war on Iraq) — let’s assume that these media outlets all mean well.
Operating under that pretense, their goal is not to kickstart another catastrophic bloody war generating millions of refugees who will be duly blamed for it. Au contraire! Their interest is in aiding humanity. If the Venezuelan government were to allow in the aid that we’re pretending it’s not allowing in, then all would be right with the world, and there would be no need to overthrow another nation’s government and install servants of US oil companies.
Let’s pretend that we’re giving the media the benefit of the doubt, and — more than that — the viewers the benefit of the doubt. Certainly many viewers of US media actually believe this stuff at least momentarily. Well, then, here’s my question:
Why is it unacceptable to keep humanitarian aid out of Venezuela, but acceptable to keep it out of the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, D.C.? Again, the facts are not what is most widely reported. The US government ordered the Embassy staff out but did not lose its obligation to protect the embassy from takeovers. The Embassy staff asked peace activists to protect the Embassy, and they are trying to do so. But the Secret Service, the D.C. Police, and a gang of pro-coup thugs threatening and engaging in violence and vandalism have created a siege.
The nonviolent protectors inside the embassy are now cut off from food, water, medicine, electricity, and communications. Those attempting to deliver humanitarian aid have not yet had their vehicles burned but have been assaulted and thrown to the ground and arrested by “law enforcement” soldiercops.
If we’re in favor of delivering humanitarian aid to those in need, why are we in favor of it in Venezuela, North Korea, and Iran (while trying to starve residents through sanctions) but against it in most of the world, on the streets of Washington, D.C., itself, and in the Venezuelan Embassy in Georgetown?
If the protectors of the embassy leave it, it will be taken over by an armed gang hoping to spark the takeover of the nation of Venezuela by the oil interests that many of us claim to be aware are out to destroy the world slowly whenever they’re not making us too uneasy by trying to destroy the world quickly.
On Wednesday in Washington, at a stink tank funded by the world’s biggest weapons dealers, the Secretary General of the OAS, Luis Almagro, got up and declared that the “archaic” concept of non-intervention has never existed in law. Therefore, he suggested, the United States must attack Venezuela in order to protect it under the banner of “the responsibility to protect.”
Again, the first casualty is truth. The so-called responsibility to protect (by bombing) actually does not exist in any law anywhere and never has. Meanwhile, the United Nations Charter forbids not only war but also the threat of war, meaning that warmongers who ignore it also violate it, and that “All options are on the table” is both narrower and wider than those who utter it intend: narrower, because what they’re threatening is criminal; wider, because the option exists of arresting them for their crime.
Luis Almagro declares that we must “act” or not. “Act” — like “do something” — is defined as “start another war,” while “not act” is defined as: engage in diplomacy or send actual aid with good intentions or join the world’s treaties and courts and begin cooperating with the rule of law or abolish the Monroe Doctrine before its 200th birthday or literally anything whatsoever other than “start another war.” I wrote War Is A Lie precisely so that nobody would have to wonder whether to believe a word such people say.
The real tragedy, of course, is that Venezuela, just like the rest of the world, actually needs an intervention from some actually sane and generous group able to develop alternatives to drilling, selling, or burning the oil that is going to kill us all.
But US aggression creates predictable demands for sovereignty and oil rights and oil profits and glorification of a flawed government being threatened by a worse one. We’re three steps backward from the starting line in trying to save this beautiful little world. And the environmental groups’ unwillingness to notice the existence of wars for oil, wars as burners of oil, or wars as pits of money needed to convert away from oil exacerbates the problem.
So, I’m not going to tell you to choose between some horrible action or nothing. There are a million and one ways to help. But one of them is this: Go and send others and send food to the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, D.C. Right now. Go there. Do not wait.
And — while you’re on your way — tell the US Congress to prevent the war and to protect the Embassy Protection Collective.
David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is executive director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson’s books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Swanson was awarded the 2018 Peace Prize by the US Peace Memorial Foundation.
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