Discussion in 'Political Discussions' started by Kizmet, Jul 26, 2018.

  1. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

  2. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member Staff Member

    I'm going to agree with the point that there should be a way out of this fix, with all that Venezuelan oil.
  3. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    Gosh it's ugly. Perfect example of what can happen when a populist government decides to redistribute wealth with force.
  4. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

  5. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

  6. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    Juan Guaido. Okay, we've chosen a side. Russia and the Chinese are protesting our "intervention" (that's rich) but they can be ignored. We are pretty close. They are very far away.

    Civil war is likely next. Venezuela's neighbors seem ready to help Guaido which makes sense because they are dealing with about 3 million refugees. What will matter most (I think) is whether the Venezuelan military can be pried away from Maduro. Doesn't look like it yet but things are so bad that Maduro might need to line up asylum somewhere far away.

    Well...let us hope and pray for a peaceful takeover. It's pretty obvious which side the ordinary Venezuelan will support once the choice becomes clear. Widespread starvation has that effect.
    SteveFoerster likes this.
  7. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

  8. heirophant

    heirophant Well-Known Member

    Sporadic power blackouts are common in Venezuela (which once had some of the best infrastructure in Latin America). But on Thursday, Venezuela's electrical grid crashed. On Friday it got worse, spreading to 22 of Venezuela's 23 states throughout the country. Telephone and internet are reportedly out. Public transportation wasn't running in Caracas and large numbers of people were trudging through the streets. Some hospitals are on emergency generators, which aren't universal in Venezuela, others have stopped admitting patients and have canceled surgeries. The diplomatic quarter was blacked out and foreign embassies were without power.

    Today (Saturday) power has returned in some of Venezuela's states and in some districts of Caracas. In many cases though, lights will flicker, then go out again. Large areas of Caracas remain blacked out for a third consecutive night.

    Opinion is divided on what's to blame. Opponents of the regime say that it's the regime's incompetence and failure to perform needed maintenance on the system. Supporters of the regime are blaming it on a purported US cyber attack and are holding rallies and exhorting the people to defend the revolution against "the gringos" and what they call "the Empire".

    The opposition, hoping to take advantage of the crisis, is calling for mass demonstrations and for as many people as possible to march on Caracas.
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2019
  9. Phdtobe

    Phdtobe Well-Known Member

    The situation in Venezuela is terrible. Western countries should be mindful of their intervention into Venezuela, especially military. Remember Iraq, the people were not rejoicing and greeting their liberators with open arms. These conflicts are complicated and political solutions are always preferable. A civil will be the worst outcome for the people, even worse than the current situation.
  10. heirophant

    heirophant Well-Known Member

    The only way that I could really support a US military intervention is as part of a larger Latin American force organized and led by Venezuela's neighbors. (Brazil and Colombia probably, with participating units from as many Latin American countries as possible.) The US would probably be best positioned to provide specialist capabilities that these countries might be short of like air transport, satellite and air reconnaissance and communications networking. US participation might deter China and Russia from sending military aid to Maduro. But the boots actually on Venezuelan soil interacting with the locals shouldn't be Americans. And US participation mustn't suggest that the US has somehow become responsible for Venezuela's future forever more.

    Another important consideration is that the foreign intervention needs to be invited in by Juan Guaido and the Venezuelan congress. There is apparently a clause in the Venezuelan constitution that permits inviting foreign military into the country in emergencies, but Guaido has said that he doesn't want to invoke it and that Venezuelans need to sort this out themselves. (I'm inclined to agree with him.)

    As far as civil war goes, it all depends on the Venezuelan military and police. They have remained loyal to the regime so far, at least outwardly. There have been several small coup attempts that were quickly quashed, and most of the top military leadership has almost certainly been replaced with regime loyalists. Are the Venezuelan armed forces still effective in conventional military terms? Will rank and file soldiers continue to follow orders? I don't know. I expect that US and other intelligence agencies are trying to get a reading on that.

    Bottom line, I don't really want to see a US intervention. Venezuela is a matter for the Venezuelans, not the responsibility of the United States. But absent some kind of foreign intervention, and absent a popular uprising, all that's left is waiting for the regime to fall apart and implode. That may not happen for many decades, until the country is totally ruined, as Zimbabwe ably illustrates.
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2019
  11. heirophant

    heirophant Well-Known Member

    It's now the fifth day of the blackout. While some news reports say that power is coming on in some places, and some reports say that most of the rural states now have power (unclear if that's really true), power remains largely out in Caracas where most foreign reporters are based. There is apparently some cell phone service operating in Caracas, but only here and there.

    Stores are still mostly closed. Things are getting desperate and many people in poor neighborhoods are resorting to looting. There have been many arrests and many police, paramilitary and regular military are on the streets. Gangs of regime supporters on motorcycles calling themselves 'colectivos' are acting as vigilante enforcers.

    There have been big anti-government rallies and the police are letting them happen and actually seem pretty relaxed in the photos. No reports of soldiers firing into crowds or anything like that.

    Maduro is still insisting that a US cyberattack brought down the Venezuelan electricity grid and that sabotage by regime opponents is prolonging the outage.
  12. heirophant

    heirophant Well-Known Member

  13. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

  14. JBjunior

    JBjunior Active Member

    I am equally concerned. The idea of “intervention” is too easy to sell to the American public; war hawks think it is good fun and everyone else thinks it is the compassionate thing to do. Meanwhile, we are imposing on the sovereignty of a nation, imposing the will of a foreign nation on another for “our” own motives, and endangering the lives of our citizens both in the actual conflict and from future hostilities due to our actions.
  15. heirophant

    heirophant Well-Known Member

    Possible but unlikely in my opinion. The United States doesn't want another foreign war and it doesn't want to get stuck occupying Venezuela or putting itself in the position where Venezuela's future becomes the United States' never-ending responsibility (a US 'protectorate' in effect).

    The Secretary of State did kind of put out some carefully worded ambiguity that might conceivably be construed as hinting at the possibility of military action. After announcing the withdrawal, Sec. Pompeo wrote:

    "This decision reflects the deteriorating situation in #Venezuela as well as the conclusion that the presence of U.S. diplomatic staff at the embassy has become a constraint on U.S. Policy."

    I agree. (Agreeing with you scares me as much as it scares you, Kizmet.)

    I don't see it as being very likely, though the US certainly wants Maduro to think it might be a possibility and to have to factor it into his calculations. But part of his response to feeling increasingly cornered might be to take the US Embassy staff hostage, Iran-style. So the US wants to remove that possibility from the board. There's also the distinct possibility that conditions in Caracas might deteriorate into absolute chaos if the blackout continues. (It's been six days now.)

    And it very well might. Ask any electrical engineer: "black starting" a national power grid from zero is no small matter. It's more difficult if the reason for the initial crash isn't known, maintenance standards are poor, management and technical expertise are lacking and the reliability of much of the system is questionable. Everything has to be brought back online in small increments, balanced to prevent surges which are likely to blow out other weak spots in the system. If something crashes, overloads move elsewhere and the whole thing can go down again like a house of cards. Given the spotty recovery and the way power in many places is flickering and going out again, this seems to be what's happening in Venezuela.

    As I said before, I don't anticipate a new American military adventure until Juan Guaido requests it. That hasn't happened. And it would probably come in the form of assistance to a Latin American wide effort. That will require preparation if it ever happens. We would see it coming.

    But it's true that the Trump administration is coming under pressure to act decisively. From the so-called 'Neo-con' wing of the Republicans at least. Democrats just hate anything the Trump administration does (intervene? Resist it! Fail to intervene? Resist it!) making them irrelevant to shaping US policy. (AOCrazy's idea of the US following the Venezuelan path is obviously a non-starter.) I saw where Dick Cheyney told Mike Pence that Trump's foreign policy is essentially as feckless as Obama's (and there's no worse insult in Republican-land than to be compared to Obama). And there are probably generals in the Pentagon who are loudly insisting that this power blackout is a God-given opportunity for the US to move. I don't expect that kind of Beltway pressure to be decisive though.
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2019
  16. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    Do you think it's very many of them? I'll admit this isn't my area, but given that generals actually know what war means, I wonder whether they tend to be as excited for it as chickenhawk politicians are.
  17. heirophant

    heirophant Well-Known Member

    I don't know how many there are, but I'd be willing to bet that there are some. They may have some influence if they are highly placed in the DoD hierarchy. But like I said, I don't think their influence will be decisive.

    Questions to consider:

    Would the US say 'yes' if we are asked to participate, by Guaido, the Colombians, Brazil, the OAS or whoever? [I think so.]

    Is the US waiting to be asked, or trying to persuade Colombia, Brazil and company to act? Are we leading or following? [Hard to say.]

    If the US gets involved in an intervention, what would our role be? [Probably support, like our role in the battle against ISIS in suppport of the Syrian Kurds and Iraqi government.]
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2019
  18. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    Part of my concern is that it might not really matter what America wants. It only matters what Donald Trump wants.

  19. Phdtobe

    Phdtobe Well-Known Member

    Trump is what he is, but in the past, I never thought of him as a war hawk. However, In my lifetime, no US president has ever turned down a war to distract from domestic issues. Venezuela looks like low hanging fruits like Grenada and Panama. A just war which may be beneficial for humanity and civilization is taking on North Korea.
  20. heirophant

    heirophant Well-Known Member

    Trump ran on the pledge to be the President of the United States, not President of the World. In other words, his focus is on what's best for the United States and its people, not straightening out every foreign country that doesn't meet some arbitrary standard, whether they want us to or not. So I expect that Trump's first instinct is to say that Venezuela is the Venezuelans' problem. (That's what their political independence and sovereignty mean.)

    The only justification for military intervention in the Trump doctrine is defense of American interests. So... does Venezuela present any kind of clear and present danger to the United States or its vital interests? I don't think so. Maybe if it started exporting revolutionary insurgencies to its neighbors or started hosting powerful military enemies of the United States. We can certainly be provoked, but I don't think that we are there yet.

    It's just a once-prosperous former friend of the United States that's now well on its way to becoming a hell-hole. While exceedingly sad, does that really justify a war? It's what many Venezuelans wanted and some still want.

    I don't think that Trump will think it justifies a war. Though again, I think that he might be willing to join in a limited capacity in a locally organized campaign led by Brazil and Colombia perhaps. Our presence might be valuable in deterring China and Russia from sending military aid to Maduro.

    I don't think that President Trump and his people are motivated by the sort of moral idealism that seemingly motivated Obama or Bush before him. (I see that as a good thing.) His United States isn't on a global mission. He isn't out to remake the planet Marxist, Neocon or George Soros-style in the shape of some moral vision, political program or social theory. He just makes deals that he judges are in the American people's interest.

    Which does't exclude win-wins, they are the whole point of negotiating voluntary deals. They have to be in the other party's interest as well as our own in order for them to sign. It pushes everyone to search for common interests.

    It's basically a return to old-style Realpolitik (political pragmatism).
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2019

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