All eyes on Venezuela

“The past may not repeat itself, but it sure does rhyme” – Mark Twain

By David Rogers

Last week an unheralded military event occurred. Reports indicate the United States moved 5,000 troops into South America. They are in Columbia (with permission) and are heading inland towards the Venezuelan border. This occurred just days after the Trump administration joined twenty-eight other European and Western nations to support Juan Guaido as the new interim President of Venezuela, declaring the Maduro administration as illegitimate and in violation of basic human rights.

You can read a detailed report of alleged military movement here.

The push for regime change in Venezuela is being framed as a human rights necessity. There is credibility in this argument since the Maduro regime has devastated the general population. It is not every day ordinary citizens will break into the city zoo in search of animals to slaughter for food. The citizenry is in dire straits, starving and out of options.

But there is another take on these actions, and that agenda was revealed by National Security Advisor John Bolton on January 24th on Fox Business News: “Venezuela is one of the three countries I call the Troika of Tyranny,” Bolton told Trish Regan. “It would make a difference if we could have American companies produce the oil in Venezuela. It would be good for Venezuela and the people of the United States.” Whatever human rights issues are on the table, it is also clearly about oil.

You can view the full Bolton interview here:

There is one problem with this regime change excuse. The Russians have been in Venezuela for some time supporting Maduro. The Chinese have sent naval and military resources to Maduro. They both want Venezuela’s oil also. We do not need their oil necessarily but are making the proxy play for rights to harvest their resources through our new sponsored leader. Thus, as Fox News and others have reported, Venezuela has rejected any U.S. humanitarian aid. With Chinese and Russian strings already attached, the Bolton-esque expectations that might come with our efforts could be onerous.

A brief analysis of the resources being assembled and the players involved in this confrontation suggest that this could turn quickly into problematic events. With superpowers squaring off for a proxy fight over oil resources similar in volume to the Middle East (minus the local political entanglements of Middle Eastern factions but adding larger geopolitical intrigue) it would not take much to ignite conflict. It is akin to taking a cigarette break in the room where the gasoline and gunpowder are stored. Unwanted results may ensue.

Why this issue is not at the forefront of public debate is a mystery. Why would we commit resources to this area when it is plain there is potential for catastrophic confrontations? What are the geopolitical ramifications of Russia and China gaining a foothold so close to our own shores? These issues should be brought into the light of public debate where our elected representatives can ask the tough questions and where the people can view the motivations of policy.

Are we really prepared to square off against the Russians and Chinese over the pretense of human rights? Over natural resources? What is the broader agenda at play? Are the Hawks in Trump’s cabinet determined to start another brush fire war? Could we end up seeing Vietnam chapter two in South America? These events bear scrutiny at the national level. We need to bring the ramifications of these actions into the light of public debate.

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