On Venezuela and Corralling Mother Russia

Venezuela, Venezuela, Venezuela! Does anybody know what’s really going on? While American President Donald Trump wobbles the White House position and Russia’s alleged role, western mainstream pundits act out a whacky war of imbecilic words. Meanwhile, Venezuelan citizens starve in the streets of a country being torn to shreds.

The Guardian runs a headline “Russia urges the US to abandon ‘irresponsible’ plan to topple Maduro,” and underneath U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo does his version of a Looney Tunes character jumping up and down about the U.S. not have a monopoly on “messing up” Latin American countries. In The Guardian piece, the Secretary of State is cited lambasting Russia for meddling, saying: “We don’t want anyone messing around with Venezuela.” This wobbly policy/news befuddlement came on the wings of President Trump and Vladimir Putin holding a 90-minute phone call the in which the U.S. leader understood Vladimir Putin was “not looking at all to get involved in Venezuela, other than he’d like to see something positive happen.” The Wall Street Journal reported on “Venezuela’s Rebellion That Wasn’t,” and Bloomberg is telling the story of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau trying to leverage Cuba out of the Venezuela affair?

Now to the point, Forbes’ BRICs expert Ken Rapoza spells out many of the real cause of the Venezuela regime change in a post about what Russia has to lose in the Latin American country. In short, there’s money and prestige at stake in Nicolas Maduro’s broken country. But a couple of $billions invested by Russia’s Rosneft is a drop in the bucket compared to the bigger stakes the U.S. is betting on its regime change doctrine. Rapoza cites Agathe Demarais, global forecasting director for The Economist Intelligence Unit in London saying:

“In contrast with Syria, which hosts Russian military bases and lies on the periphery of Russia’s sphere of interests, Venezuela has limited strategic significance.”

The economist is clearly wrong since the grand geo-strategic play is about energy and economic warfare. Syria, Venezuela, Ukraine, the Arctic or Antarctic, we’re witnessing the most refined form of warfare ever carried out on this planet. The Forbes piece brings to light the role of Cuba’s Raul Castro in keeping Maduro in power, but Russia needs a Washington puppet in power in Venezuela like a hole in the head. The Venezuela takeover is about gas prices and energy flows – period. It’s time analysts look at geo-policy in a more holistic way. The west is applying the big squeeze to Russia, and the last thing Washington needs Saudi Arabia’s last glugs of cheap heavy oil competing with Venezuela’s. So few news reports dig in to show the real story of the Latin American country surpassing the Saudis in proven oil reserves. Just looking at Trump Tweets and gesticulations can speak volumes about the Saudi role in all this. The 1.4 trillion barrels or more of Venezuelan crude are quadruple what the Saudis have even according to official estimates.

The United States desperately needs continued energy independence, and I am not talking about what’s left of strategic reserves in tar sands. A “pliable” Venezuela can take up the slack as the Saudi reserves fade in the coming years. At the other end of the strategic spectrum, a Russia friendly Venezuela puts a lever in Vladimir Putin’s hands. This is the big picture over detente in the world today. Russian interests, especially after having been put on the defensive by the American hegemony, are inextricably dependent on the right power moves now. If Venezuela is run by a Washington puppet, this gives Trump and future U.S. presidents a wild card in the overall economic war.

Finally, we must not forget past U.S. meddling in Latin America. The Iran-Contra affair, President George H.W. Bush and the role of the U.S. in Nicaragua, and lunatics who think the Monroe Doctrine is international law should provide the cautionary juice we need to call a halt to the Venezuala slaughterhouse to come. And don’t get me started on President Lenín Moreno of Ecuador, billions what amounts to bribery, and the Julian Assange “icing” Trump put on that Latin American regime change cake. The fact of the Venezuela matter is that the United States’ attempt to oust Maduro has nothing to do with democracy or human rights, it’s about another couple of decades of cheap gas for U.S. citizens and corralling Russia – end of the story.

Phil Butler is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe, he’s an author of the recent bestseller “Putin’s Praetorians” and other books. He writes exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”

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