Is Military Action in Venezuela Likely?

THE U.S. APPOINTED A NEW PRESIDENT FOR VENEZUELA, OVERRIDING DEMOCRATIC ELECTIONS.

Was this action essential for U.S. national security interests?


The stunning move last week of President Trump directly interfering in the sovereign state affairs of Venezuela (VZ) struck many as a typical U.S. tradition of dominating “banana republics” south of our border.  Why did this occur?  Was it necessary? Was this a conventional CIA initiated coup? Should the President have been so bold to take such a stand?  In my opinion, it probably was a necessary move. John Bolton’s “white pad warning” of sending 5,000 U.S. troops to VZ to enforce the U.S. decision to oust Nicholas Maduro by spoken word from Washington, was likely an “over-the-shoulder peek” that wasn’t worth the paper it was scribbled on.  In my estimation, it seems unlikely that any shots will be fired to ensure the government there transitions to Juan Guaido, formerly head of the parliament and now the President. His rebellion was a first in many ways. It all transpired because of Donald Trump, a slew of surrounding South American nations, and Western allies banded together and told the VZ President it was time for him to leave the neighborhood. Only Mexico offered a surprising dissenting vote in the move by Washington.

In a post today, January 31, 2019, by George Friedman and Jacob Shapiro of Geopolitical Futures, the various issues surrounding what is happening in VZ were discussed.  Both agree that what is transpiring there is important, but the latter (Shapiro) sees the U.S. action strategic, while Friedman in his usual pragmatic opinion doubts that the issues amount to much more than stabilizing the situation, calming the drug flow through the country, and securing only marginally valuable oil for the U.S.  On the other hand, says Shapiro, the U.S. must react to the instability giving rise to adventurous statement by China and Russia who talk about securing their interests in VZ  and possibly even creating military bases there.  With the recent support of Iran and North Korea to the Maduro government, it has become clear that VZ represents another much-less-prominent point of contention between “east” vs “west.” (In our day, these words define alliances far more than directions).

The biggest move seems to be the U.S. putting sanctions in place that will starve Maduro, while it works the banking systems of the world to move monies owned by the Maduro government and putting those in the hands of Guaido. The relationship between CITGO and Maduro, the backbone of their oil industry, appears to be history now too. Since almost all of the revenue financing Maduro comes from oil revenue, VZ military personnel may soon decide that if they want to get paid, they will need to pick a different side to support. Russia and China are too far away and have little in the way of naval power to support any sort of military contingent in VZ.  Therefore, Asian assertions of projecting power into South American are little more than empty words and wishes it were so.

As for military action, it is certainly possible that a military incursion may occur.  But it seems unlikely that a hot confrontation looms.  And far less probable still, that any sort of incident with Russia or China will result either.  All things considered, the U.S. is simply reinstating the Monroe Doctrine.  Only Cuba has been able to run the gauntlet and maintain its sovereignty in the Western Hemisphere. And Russia is not the Soviet Union. Speaking of Cuba, any plans the reader has to travel to Havana should either be moved up immediately or better yet, dropped altogether.

It is quite true that the U.S. interfered. Positioning the interference smartly is possible.  It would be wise for the U.S. to speak in terms of intervening on behalf of the welfare of the people rather than any claims about making VZ safe for democracy. And expect the U.S. to slap around the Mexican government for its obstinacy about not supporting the U.S. After all, it seems to be a near unanimous request from Latin American states to get rid of Maduro and bring VZ back into the fold of functioning rather than failed states. Thus, in the final analysis, the U.S. has treated VZ like a banana republic. But in this case, it appears better the U.S assert who the top banana is in this part of the globe rather than giving Russia or China any incentive to raise the question. VZ may become one of the few foreign policy plays that Trump is getting right.


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