PATRICK LAWRENCE: In Venezuela, US Forgets What Century It Is

Destabilizing other nations in gross violation of international law will no longer go unopposed, writes Patrick Lawrence.

By Patrick Lawrence
Special to Consortium News

The Venezuela crisis worsens by the day. Early last week the U.S. sanctioned PdVSA, the state-owned oil company, by sequestering income from U.S. sales in a blocked bank account. On Sunday President Donald Trump confirmed in a television interview that deploying American troops is “an option.”

Little of what Washington has done in the weeks since it recognized an opposition legislator, Juan Guaidó, as Venezuela’s “interim president” has any basis in international law. But there is much worse to come and much more at risk if the U.S. follows through with its recently disclosed plans to reshape Latin American politics to its neoliberal liking.

Administration officials now advertise the effort to depose the government of Nicolás Maduro as merely the first step in a plan to reassert American influence among our southerly neighbors. The next two targets, Cuba and Nicaragua, are what John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser, calls the continent’s “troika of tyranny.”

“The United States looks forward to watching each corner of the triangle fall—in Havana, in Caracas, in Managua,” Bolton said in a not-much-noted speech in Miami late last year. “The troika will crumble.” There is cold comfort to derive from knowing this forecast reflects the single most deranged worldview of anyone now active in the Trump White House. 

“The Birth of the Monroe Doctrine” by Clyde O. DeLand: U.S. President James Monroe presides over a cabinet meeting in 1823, discussing the Monroe Doctrine. (Wikimedia)

But therein lie considerable dangers. In effect, Trump and his policy minders intend to revive the Monroe Doctrine, in which the fifth U.S. president effectively declared the Western Hemisphere America’s to manage however it wished. But it is 2019, not 1823, when James Monroe made his case in a State of the Union speech to Congress. It is frequently remarkable how blind Washington is to the limits the 21stcentury imposes on its power, and we are about to watch it crash into two of them.

Era of Coups Is Over 

For one thing, the long era of U.S.-cultivated coups— “regime changes” for those who cannot quite face this aspect of America’s conduct abroad—is over. First in Ukraine and a year later in Syria, Moscow has put Washington on notice: Destabilizing other nations in gross violation of international law will no longer go unopposed. One way or another, this will again prove true in Venezuela.

The Ukraine case ranks among the worst foreign policy calls former President Barack Obama made during his eight years in office, and there are many from which to choose. State Department-sponsored NGOs and “civil society” groups such as the National Endowment for Democracy had been up to their customary chicanery in Kiev for years before Obama took office. But it was Obama who green-lighted the operation that led, five years ago this month, to the ouster of Viktor Yanukovych as Ukraine’s duly elected president and the division of the country into pro–Western and pro–Russian halves that remain at war with one another.

It is now de rigueur in the Western press to date the Ukraine crisis—and the sanctions regime that remains in place—to Russia’s re-annexation of Crimea after a referendum held in March 2014. This is ahistorical nonsense. It is a matter of record that Vladimir Putin convened his national security advisers the night of Feb. 22, a day after Yanukovych was forced to flee Kiev. By dawn on the 23rd, the Russian president had decided there was no alternative to reclaiming Crimea if Russia was to prevent NATO from assuming control over its only warm-water naval base.

A middling graduate student in international relations could have told the State Department’s Victoria Nuland and Vice President Joe Biden, who carried the administration’s Ukraine portfolio, that precipitating a coup in Kiev was a reckless, amateurish business. And so it has proven.

President of Syria Bashar Assad made a working visit to Moscow on Oct. 20, 2015. (The Russian President)

President of Syria Bashar Assad made a working visit to Moscow on Oct. 20, 2015. (The Russian President)

In the Syrian case, the U.S. had been training, arming, and financing radical Sunni jihadists since 2012 at the latest. But it was only in September 2015, a year after the Ukraine debacle, that Moscow—at the invitation of the Assad government in Damascus—entered the conflict militarily. The result speaks for itself: The Syrian Arab Army is now finishing its mop-up phase and the European powers, along with Turkey and Russia, are negotiating a variety of political, social, and economic reconstruction plans.

It is stunning, in the context of these two events, that the U.S. now proposes to embark on a series of three coup operations in Latin America, the first of which unfolds as we speak. But learning from past errors has never been among Washington’s strong suits, to put the point too mildly. The Maduro government warns the U.S. of “another Vietnam” if it intervenes militarily in Venezuela. Moscow warns of “catastrophic consequences.”

Let us not misread this last remark. It is highly unlikely, if not unimaginable, that Russia would counter direct U.S. intervention in Venezuela through military support. Moscow has all but said as much, indeed.

Russian and Chinese Interests 

But we now come to the second limitation on American power in the 21stcentury. In an era of virtually unlimited economic interdependence, Russia and China have considerable interests in Venezuela, and you can bet your last ruble or renminbi that they will exert themselves to protect them.

China has developed a series of oil-for-loans agreements with Venezuela over the past dozen years, and these total more than $50 billion in value. At this point Caracas is some $20 billion in arrears  on these deals, according to official Chinese sources as quoted in The Wall Street Journal. Russia has also invested many billions in Venezuela since the years of the Hugo Chávez presidency. Logically enough, both Moscow and Beijing question whether a post–Maduro government would honor these obligations. 

 PDVSA building 2008. "Fatherland, socialism or death." (Nicolas Hall via Wikimedia)

PDVSA building 2008. “Fatherland, socialism or death.” (Nicolas Hall via Wikimedia)

China and Russia are also Venezuela’s largest arms suppliers, and both have intelligence-gathering installations on Venezuelan soil. Two days after Washington recognized Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s interim leader, reports surfaced that Moscow had dispatched a team of private contractors—read: mercenaries—to support the Maduro government.

The Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank known for its anti–Russian biases and its close ties to various intelligence agencies, put out a paper over the weekend suggesting that the Venezuela crisis marks the beginning of “great-power competition” in Latin America. For once, the council seems to have gotten it roughly right.

No, this is not likely to resemble the Cold War in its superficial aspects. While Washington appears likely to fight it with hunger-inducing sanctions, semi-covert subterfuge, and possibly armed interventions, Russia and China will rely on diplomatic and possibly military support, economic aid, and investment. Both Moscow and Beijing continue to back the Maduro government and have encouraged political negotiations between the Venezuelan president and his adversaries.

The best way to read this competition at the moment is to recall the years prior to the Obama administration’s diplomatic recognition of Cuba (which the Trump administration has all but officially dismantled). Obama was more or less forced to act, because decades of merciless economic embargo and non-recognition had thoroughly alienated the rest of Latin America. Depending on how events turn in Venezuela, Trump and his policy minders could easily land Washington back in the same unenviable predicament. 

Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune, is a columnist, essayist, author and lecturer. His most recent book is “Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century” (Yale). Follow him @thefloutist. His web site is Support his work via

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91 comments for “PATRICK LAWRENCE: In Venezuela, US Forgets What Century It Is

  1. Alois Mueller
    February 15, 2019 at 03:34

    A bridge made a career this weekend. Almost all German mass media used images of La Tienditas Bridge on the Colombian-Venezuelan border to visualize the conflict between the “good” opposition representative Guaidó and the “evil” President Maduro. The former wants to prevent a “humanitarian catastrophe” by aid deliveries, while the latter prevents this by blocking the same bridge. A “beautiful” story, which unfortunately is not true. The La Tienditas Bridge has been blocked since 2016 – by Colombia, to fend off Venezuelan refugees. Incidentally, the meme from the barricaded bridge was widely distributed by US Secretary of State Pompeo. Although it has been known since Saturday that it is a propaganda duck, German media have not yet distanced themselves from their misreporting. By Frederico Füllgraf and Jens Berger.

    “The Venezuelan people are desperately in need of humanitarian aid. The United States and other countries are trying to help, but #Venezuela’s military under Maduro’s orders is blocking shipments of tankers and shipping containers. The Maduro Regime MUST MAKE SURE THAT HELP REACHES THE HUNGERNING PEOPLE #EstamosUnidosVE (We’re United Venezuela) ”

    This lamentation seemed to tweet ex-CIA chief and acting US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the early morning of last February 6 in the global network. But not Pompeo’s scare tactics, but the photo placed underneath was already circulated the next day by the BBC and almost all US commercial media and showed worldwide impact.

    La Tienditas: semiotics of a political fake news

    In the picture we see the international La Tienditas Bridge over the Táchira River on the Venezuelan-Colombian border. The photo undoubtedly radiates a somewhat ghostly look: all three lanes are barricaded with two transversal shipping containers and one tank trailer. An updated version of the picture also shows patrolling Venezuelan soldiers. On closer inspection, however, the waking eye recognizes two crucial image contents. On the one hand, the perspective: The photograph was taken from Colombian territory. On the other hand, those cement blocks and wire racks in this area.

    This is also very evident in the ZDF Today report from 7 February. If you look closely, you will also recognize the emblems on the frontier uniforms in this report. They are members of the Colombian “Policia Nacional”. However, this is not mentioned in the report. On the contrary, it gives the impression that the barricades are on the Venezuelan side and Venezuelan border guards would enforce the blockade.

    Anyone who has even dealt with superficially semiotics – the sign processes in culture and nature, as image, word, language and gesture content examined – the or the striking that in Pompeo’s Tweet and its diverse Medienkolportage the Venezuelan container along rusty tank trailer declared the center of the image, the obstacles on the Colombian side but were hidden by the “reporting”. Why? Because the Colombian concrete blocks and wire racks represent the elements of the actual and first bridge blockade. The Venezuelan container and tank trailer are the result.

    This learns the suspicious and stubborn researcher from a message issued in the border town of Cúcuta Colombian regional newspaper La Opinión on 5 February 2016. The wondered three years ago that the million dollar bridge to the “white elephant” had degenerated, in good German: for which Katz was built. “The $ 40 million that Colombia and Venezuela spent on building the international Tienditas Bridge linking Norte de Santander to Táchira has not paid off,” the report said.

    The plant, designed for the integration of Colombia and Venezuela, consists of three parallel bridges 240 meters long and 40 meters wide, designed to relieve the overflowing Simón Bolívar and Francisco de Paula Santander bridges. A transit of up to 10,000 vehicles per day was planned. “According to Colombian Invias Motorway Director Jesús Vergel, the bridge is completed on both sides, but the green light to start operations is of course a matter for the State Department,” said La Opinión.

    But the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs apparently switched to “permanent red”: The bridge was never inaugurated. In 2016, traditional commuter traffic increased and the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans across the border began. The phenomenon grew into a crisis, heating up the minds of both governments to the point of deterring the Venezuelan emigre, the Colombian government had concrete blocks and wire racks set up on the middle of the bridge.

    Of these backgrounds, however, is in the coverage of the German media, but nowhere talked. For example, ZDF-Heute reports that Maduro “blocked” the bridge to block the auxiliary leases. How can you “block” a bridge that has been blocked for three years and has never been open anyway? And why do not the Americans actually transport their “relief supplies” via one of the four other border bridges? Of course, such questions can only ask who questions the American version of the story. However, German media do not do this habitual.

    Donald Trump’s “Bridge over the Kwai”

    However, the media exploitation of La Tienditas is not exhausted in Mike Pompeo’s Tweet. It is complemented by the photo of Donald Trump’s security adviser John Bolton, Casus Belli, who at the end of January demonstratively held out to journalists his notepad with the sibylline phrase “5,000 troops to Colombia” (see picture).

    The checkmate train Marco Rubio thought he had landed with a tweet posted on February 9, when he wrote: “By blocking aid to the Venezuelan people #Maduro is committing a crime against humanity – With the blockade of aid to the people of Venezuela commits #Maduro a crime against humanity “. In order to avert crimes against humanity, a declaration of war is always allowed – NATO asserted this when it proclaimed the Balkan war against Serbia, destroyed Yugoslavia and split it into at least five small states.

    The strong Tobak Rubios with allusions of Pompeo and Bolton pursues all the semiotic signs of the goal, the so-called “humanitarian aid” to politicize and hochzustilisieren war – in an emergency, the border to Venezuela “go up”, as in David Lean’s film adaptation of Pierre Boulles War Classic “The Bridge on the River Kwai”. “I have the feeling that we will see much more of this bridge in the news in the coming days,” wrote computer scientist Justin Emery on 8 February in the portal Medium.

    The Americans were also noticed some inconsistencies on the distributed by Rubio, Pompeo & Co. photo for the heated coverage. “I do not want to go into the situation in Venezuela itself, but the state of media coverage and the lack of any control over US propaganda in relation to Venezuela …” Emery warned, also quoting Pompeo’s pertinent tweet, examining inter alia. Pompeo’s rambling coverage of the BBC, CNN and Independent – all calling for the immediate “opening of the bridge” – led to meticulous image analysis.

    “The Venezuelan government of controversial President Nicolas Maduro has blocked a bridge between Venezuela and Colombia, Colombian government officials and a CNN photojournalist report. What is the nature of these reports? What did they leave out? “Emery wondered. With another critical examination of the photo one could assume that Venezuela in fact only a few days ago dragged the container there and put it across the lanes.

    But something does not fit into the picture – in the picture of Pompeo and Rubio. Emery also stands out, as the Colombian La Opinión announced three years ago: “It looks like the fence was erected in front of the containers of Colombia. The fence posts are on the Colombian side and on the Colombian side of the fence are four concrete blocks. So, was the bridge really blocked by Venezuela or was it blocked by Colombia long ago? ”

    Emery goes into detail. “Fortunately, we can capture the Tienditas Bridge on Google Maps: Does not the picture look familiar? A fence with blocks of concrete blocks the bridge “, the American wonders and switches to a section of the photo. It was uploaded in June 2017.

    The Tienditas Bridge, which has been reported in the media as being blocked by Venezuela, has actually been suspended for at least 18 months! “The meanwhile known ‘rusty gate’ was there the whole time. It is completely wrong to claim that Maduro has ‘blocked’ the bridge this week, that it has to be ‘reopened’, “the Liberal American indignant, wondering,” Is the media lying to us? Is not there a single mainstream journalist who is more interested in research? I suspect a combination of both … “.

    So how is a bridge to be “reopened” that has never been opened and in operation, let alone been inaugurated? And when will the media correct their false reporting and finally take a look behind the scenes to reveal whose interests these fake news

  2. Taras 77
    February 9, 2019 at 21:39

    This may be a tad OT but it relates to wasserman schultz and the scam she (and pelosi) orchestrated in the House of Reps with the awan bros-highly recommend at least the kndle version because it has serious implications for the dimos if not completely covered up:

  3. SocraticGadfly
    February 9, 2019 at 10:57

    Patrick, straight up for you and other top Consortium News contributors.

    Are you all ready to ditch the mythical meme that this is all “The Blob” or “The Deep State” doing Manchurian mind control on Trump, and instead accepting that this is Trump’s play and Trump’s mindset, as flighty as it is?

  4. GKJames
    February 9, 2019 at 06:14

    It might be useful to add that coordination between Moscow and Havana ensures that Cuban boots on the ground in Venezuela will sustain Maduro, at least for the time being, and act as a deterrent to whatever passes for an idea in Bolton’s cranium.

  5. Taras 77
    February 8, 2019 at 17:32

    This opinion piece pretty much captures my sentiments as to the clowns currently in the admin. I have posted on other
    sites because I am intent on trying to stop this insanity on Venezuela and Iran and Russia and China (hopesprings eternal but hopefully the wider the dissemination, the better):
    American government has become a collection of sordid and dangerous clowns. It was not always thus. Until Bush II, those governing were never lunatics. Eisenhower, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Obama, Clinton had their defects, were sometimes corrupt, and could be disagreed with on many grounds. They weren’t crazy. Today’s administration would seem unwholesome in a New York bus station at three in the morning. They are not normal American politicians.

    In particular they seem to be pushing for war with Iran, China, Russia, and Venezuela. And–this is important–their behavior is not a matter of liberals catfighting with conservatives. All former presidents carefully avoided war with the Soviet Union, which carefully avoided war with America. It was Reagan, a conservative and responsible president, who negotiated the INF treaty, to eliminate short-fuse nuclear weapons from Europe. By contrast, Trump is scrapping it. Pat Buchanan, the most conservative man I have met, strongly opposes aggression against Russia. The problem with the current occupants of the White House is not that they are conservatives, if they are. It is that they are nuts.

    Donald the Cockatoo

    Start with the head cheese, Donald Trump, profoundly ignorant, narcissistic, a real-estate con man who danced just out of reach of the law. His supporters will explode in fury at this. All politics being herd politics, the population has coalesced into herds fanatically pro-Trump and fanatically anti-Trump. Yet Trump’s past is not a secret. Well-documented biographies describe his behavior in detail, but his supporters don’t read them. The following is a bit long, but worth reading.


    • OlyaPola
      February 9, 2019 at 08:37

      “In particular they seem to be pushing for war with Iran, China, Russia, and Venezuela.”

      Citing “particulars” is a form of limitation facilitating misrepresentation/obfuscation.

      “those governing were never lunatics.”

      Lunacy is often perceived as madness and both are posited as being “exceptions to the norm”.

      From inception “The United States of America” has relied upon various modes of coercion both internally and externally predicated on context, facility and opportunity, and hence coercion by “The United Stares of America” can perceived as “the norm”.

      The coercive facility of “The United States of America” was/is in part a function of the perceptions of others encouraged by “The United States of America” which changed/changes as a function of interaction, including in areas/classes within areas presently perceived by some as “allies”, apparently proving the English saying – abscence makes the heart grow fonder.

      It is now widely held that “The United States of America” is at war with the world, not restricted to ” Venezuela and Iran and Russia and China”.

      “All former presidents carefully avoided war with the Soviet Union, which carefully avoided war with America.”

      War is not restricted to things that go bang; the world was not restricted to “The United States of America” and “The Soviet Union”; “America” was never/is not restricted to “The United States of America”; and the opponents’ self-absorption has always been a land of opportunity.

      “….avoided war with the Soviet Union, which carefully avoided war with America.”

      From the inception of “The Soviet Union” to its demise, “The United States of America” was at war with “The Soviet Union” and “The Soviet Union” was at war with “United States of America” through various means including but not restricted to:

      “…a function of the perceptions of others encouraged by “The United States of America” which changed/changes as a function of interaction, including in areas and classes within areas presently perceived by some as “allies”, apparently proving the English saying – abscence makes the heart grow fonder.”

      the velocity of the change of perception internally apparently being less than the velocity of the change of perception externally.

      From experience it has been established that systemic requirements cannot be reformed sinces attempts at reform re-enforce systemic requirements which in interaction facilitate transcendence of the system – akin to the process of increased oscillations destroying a suspension bridge.

      It appears that you and others wish to test this hypothesis.

      • Taras 77
        February 9, 2019 at 22:34

        I wish I understood what the hell you are trying to say.

        I do not understand; I hope I am not at a loss for that “confession.”

  6. dean 1000
    February 7, 2019 at 15:17

    Exactly right Anne Jaclard.

    None of the Politicians who signed on to Washington’s attempt to overthrow the elected government of Venezuela ran on a platform to overthrow Maduro. Its unlikely their public would approve. If the Left wants to have a real effect, it should get up petitions demanding that their respective leaders withdraw their support for the coup and apologize to Maduro. Yellow vests might be the first to do it.

  7. Zhu
    February 7, 2019 at 07:20

    China & Russia need do nothing but wait.

  8. bevin
    February 6, 2019 at 20:08

    One of the most interesting aspects of the Venezuelan crisis is the role that Canada is playing in it.
    The US is in the position of a Frankenstein monster trying, unsuccessfully, to hide behind a dwarf making a fool of himself. The dwarf being played by Chrystia Freeland, Stepan Bandera’s, last blow against the democracy he so despised.
    As one might expect the Canadian effort-putting together a ‘coalition’ of Latin American governments to call, in unison, for democracy and human rights in Venezuela- is amateurish: there are a dozen such governments and every one of them is at the bottom of the international league table for…just about everything.
    There is Honduras, where last year’s Presidential election was publicly stolen, in front of the entire, and clearly embarrassed, international community. Honduras is very dubious about last year’s Presidential election in Venezuela-observers might call it the fairest election they have ever seen but the Hondurans (who keep their disgusting prisons full of angry voters who protested, non-violently, more than a year ago) are sticklers. They are with Canada on this one.
    Then there are the Brazilians, Paraguayans, and Peruvians all of whose governments, signing up to the Canadian Lima Group, were unelected beneficiaries of judicial coups. As of course was the Honduran President- I forgot to mention that.
    Who else is there?
    Colombia, ruled by narco-paramilitaries for decades. Last year they signed a peace agreement to bring an end to the Civil War. This year they have been systematically assassinating the FARC militants that they promised amnesty. Colombia is the worst place on earth to be a Trade Unionist. A union card is a death warrant,this has been the case for decades now. It is why, until recently, no North American government dared sign a free trade agreement with Bogota. Now Colombia is actually part of NATO. And stands together with Canada to call for an end to the violence that it is paying for in Venezuela.
    Then there is Guatemala, where there has not been a coup. Where the President- described by the UN appointed Corruption Prosecutor as the head of a crime syndicate- refuses to resign. Guatemala is internationally famous for its genocidal massacres: successive Presidents have used the army to massacre Mayan populations.
    Since 1954 when the US rescued Guatemala from the threat of communism in the form of a democratic government promising landless (and how did that happen?) peasants with uncultivated estates controlled by the New York based United Fruit Company, Guatemala has been ‘governed’ by a series of military dictators sponsored by the United States. The current one is no pacifist but he is best known for corruption which is on a monumental scale.
    And yet, Guatemala stands along side Canada calling for the Venezuelan government to resign.
    And then there is Argentina where power from left wing reformers to neo-liberals was facilitated by the US not through spurious charges of corruption as in Brazil, or straight coups as in Honduras and Paraguay but through Wall Street vulture funds financing election campaigns which led to their being able to collect enormous pay outs when their selected government, headed by Macri, paid them dollars for the few cents the expired debt was picked up for. It is a clever trick that Argentinians in the street are paying through their noses for in the form of austerity, unemployment, tumbling living standards , homelessness and hunger.
    Macri won’t last long but in the meantime he is very troubled by Venezuela’s economy, worried so much that he, his Lima Group colleagues, Canada, John Bolton, Vice President Pence (formerly governor of Indiana), Elliott Abrams, of El Salvador massacre fame and President Trump, have imposed a ban on imports of food and medicine to Venezuela out of their affection for the poor.
    You couldn’t make this stuff up, because nobody would believe it . The wonder is not that the Canadian government is involved, it will do anything for a buck (and both of its principals will soon be looking for work elsewhere) but that the other countries, members of the Lima Group can’t see that this sort of thing just draws attention to their failings.
    Maybe that is why Mexico and Uruguay have decided to have nothing more to do with it.

    • Sam F
      February 7, 2019 at 13:09

      Very good summary account of the gangsterism that is US “democracy promotion.”

    • Taras 77
      February 7, 2019 at 15:16

      Excellent comment!

      This may not add much to your comment but it does provide some additional detail as freeland’s evil fingers in the Lima Group mess:

    • Allan Millard
      February 8, 2019 at 02:21

      As a Canadian I am deeply ashamed of Canada’s role in the meddling Lima Group and in Venezuela. I am puzzled by our sudden appetite for “regime change” – there are no Canadian interests being served by our policy – and I am left to wonder if it comes down to a gamble by our PM and Foreign Minister to change the channel from their bungling on “the China file”.

      We have a federal election in October and there is nothing many of us would like to see more than the Venezuela gamble blow up. None of this reflects a judgement of the Maduro Government. Our intervention is wrong-headed by every international and diplomatic standard.

  9. Aloha
    February 6, 2019 at 18:37

    Hi Gary, Exactly what I have been feeling lately! Where is the (mostly) good ole US of A with room for improvement of course, that I know and did my share of volunteer work back in the 60’s and 70’s so that it would get better? Everywhere I look there is raping and pillaging from the handful of dictators, I mean leaders, that run this beautiful planet. Wow… the energy feels like a freight train from hell barrelling down on us. I just watched Fahrenheit 11/9 and I highly recommend it mainly because MM points fingers at both the reps and dems on fraud and abuse with a good light on Obama’s disgusting behavior in the Flint water poisoning proving that he was no defender of the poor.
    It is pointed out in the movie that there were approx 63 mil who voted for trump, 66 mil for Killery and 100 mil non-voters. Wow, no wonder both parties discourage voting and if it isn’t obvious by now we need to stop looking for someone to save us. Our political system needs a serious overhaul and perhaps it will come if young and old alike get together and create it!

    • Zhu
      February 7, 2019 at 06:53

      I’m one of 100 million who didn’t vote. After decades of voting, I’ve concluded that it is pointless ritual that improves nothing. The biggest change in my lifetime was the civil rights movement. That was based on boycotts, etc., not voting.

      • irene
        February 7, 2019 at 14:32

        As per the quote attributed to Frank Zappa :

        “Politics is the Entertainment Division of the Military Industrial Complex”

      • February 8, 2019 at 06:10

        And in the words of Emma Goldman:’if voting changed anything they’d make it illegal’

  10. February 6, 2019 at 18:27

    The military is deserting:

    Soldiers Have Been Deserting in Droves Andrew Rosati Ethan Bronner February 06 2019, 3:00 AM February 06 2019, 5:17 AM

    Read more at:

    Venezuela military barricades bridge in attempt to block aid
    2 hours ago


    Keegan Hamilton
    The prosecutors looked stressed after the note from the jury this afternoon. They were scrambling to prepare the requested transcripts. But there’s really no reason for them to be sweating at this point. If this stretches into next week, then they might have a problem.
    1:54 PM – 6 Feb 2019

    • bevin
      February 8, 2019 at 19:02

      Venezuela military barricades bridge in attempt to block aid
      That is bridge that has never been opened since construction.
      The pix are misleading.

    • anon4d2
      February 11, 2019 at 06:34

      This appears to be propaganda, hoping to cause what you pretend to lament.

  11. Andrew Thomas
    February 6, 2019 at 15:51

    I see this fine journalist say that the era of coups is over. I read the outstanding Chris Hedges , who says that the American Empire, based on the international power of the dollar, is dying. It reminds me of the scene from Blazing Saddles when the sheriff and the Waco Kid have just met, and are playing chess. The Kid takes about half of a pint of whiskey down the hatch in 5 seconds. The sheriff, concerned, says, (approximately) “A man who drinks like that, and don’t eat, that man is going to die.” Whereupon the Kid looks at him, and with real sadness in his voice, replies, “ When?”
    In time to stop the destruction of Venezuela? Of Iran? Of North Korea? Of Cuba? Of Julian Assange? When?, We all ask, with obvious sadness.

  12. February 6, 2019 at 09:00

    I wish anti-war activists would focus less on international “law”. It’s not the real problem, and worst of all international “law” often serves the imperialists. US has often created UN resolutions to legitimize its conquests. If you are ruled by the written “law”, you have to go along with those resolutions.

    It’s better to stick with the basic facts of nature. Empire ruins EVERYBODY, including the conqueror. A nation that runs around conquering territory for pure power will collapse and kill its own people.

  13. February 6, 2019 at 08:35

    “Administration officials now advertise the effort to depose the government of Nicolás Maduro as merely the first step in a plan to reassert American influence among our southerly neighbors. The next two targets, Cuba and Nicaragua, are what John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser, calls the continent’s “troika of tyranny.”’

    Does our foreign policy sound like some kind of parlor game in a room full of crazy people? Consequences? What consequences? All the people in the room think I am really smart.

    Of course it is not a game and people starve and die.

    Relating to Trump’s State of the Union, his foreign policy prescriptions sounded like Obamas, which sounded like Bushes, which sounded like….

    All the military brass looked like a group of Batista thugs which clapped when more money was put on the table for them, and of course, like just about everyone else, Israel was mentioned. Then they rose with the rest applauding the President’s leadership.

  14. Barry
    February 6, 2019 at 07:57

    People around the world are of course, fully aware that the economic downturn in Venezuela is completely due to the biased U.S. Foreign Policy!

    A policy engineered to destabilise any Government!

    What is puzzling, is the other Governments of the West completely swallow the U.S ‘regime change’ narrative regarding ‘misgovernment’ by Maduro!

    While I have no personal sympathy for Maduro, I did see the interview, given by the Ex U.N Rapporteur Alfred de Zayas. In this, he was in no doubt as to the cause of the economic downturn in Venezuela, and thus dissatisfaction in some of the population, -was due to the U.S. Foreign policy!

    Now having watched Vice President Pence’s frightening speech in Florida regarding Venezuela, no one can be in doubt about this being the usual U.S. pre-regime change diatribe!

    The old ‘Cold War’ U.S. Senator Joe McCarthy is alive and well and living in Mike Pence!

    As Pence gave his robotic phoney ‘protect democracy’ performance, one is reminded of the character of the crazy U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper in the film Doctor Strangelove!

    Film Quote- “The International Communist Conspiracy is insidiously trying to contaminating our “precious bodily fluids” and destroying our “purity of essence.”!

    But the other frightening aspect of this speech, was the screaming ecstatic reaction of his Florida listeners! Akin to an audience at an Ellen DeGeneres TV show!

    Are these blissfully screeching people ignorant of the Death and Destruction caused by the last time the bogus, self-appointed, ‘White Knight’ U.S. intervened in another Country-Syria?

    • Mats Larsson
      February 6, 2019 at 15:42

      The U.S., and whichever demented gangster-capitalist is in control of it, will not even protect democracy in the U.S. itself. Far from it. We know that is not their objective in Venezuela or anywhere else.
      The “blissfully screeching” probably do know. But they do not care. This is a nation largely of sociopaths.
      As for General Ripper, no, he had much more dignity than the boneheads in charge now. Remember, he did the decent thing at the end and killed himself.

    • aspnaz
      February 9, 2019 at 03:32

      “What is puzzling, is the other Governments of the West completely swallow the U.S ‘regime change’ narrative regarding ‘misgovernment’ by Maduro!”

      Why do you assume that the forces controlling the US government are not allied to the forces controlling the governments of the other countries participating in the persecution of – and attempted theft from – the people of Venezuela? Call me a conspiracy theorist but that insult means nothing: all transactions are conspiracies until they are made public. The thugs in Canada, UK, the EU mainland and S. American countries (otherwise known as Special Administrative Regions of the USA) are the same as breed as the thugs in the US government, why would they not be allied or reporting to the US thugs?

  15. Michael skoruppa
    February 6, 2019 at 07:11

    Hands off Venezuela! Against Donald Trump and Heiko Maas (the llittle Gerfman Foreign Minister)! He who votes for the SPD (social democratic party of Germany), votes for war.

    • T
      February 6, 2019 at 15:56

      > He who votes for the SPD (social democratic party of Germany), votes for war.

      So what else is new? With the exception of the Willy Brandt period, this has been the case for a hundred years now…

      • Zhu
        February 7, 2019 at 07:01

        Pence is probably a Dispensationalist, counting on the Rapture and the Second Coming to solve hisproblems.

        • Taras 77
          February 7, 2019 at 15:20

          I think pompeo may be there as well, as he says he is an evangelist.

          That is just perfect, we can now wait for the Rapture, brought on by these clowns.

        • jrkrideau
          February 7, 2019 at 19:20

          I am not sure if he is a Dispensationalist but he is a / Dominionist so it is very likely.

  16. Alois Mueller
    February 6, 2019 at 04:20

    Not bad, now Washington gets the feeling Russia has for a long time: facing the “enemy” just at their front door!
    Cuba, still a target, should assist Maduro military vice!
    The big plan for Deep State: officially withdrawing from Europe (same time looting all the energie of “their” southern territorries), with the help of a new European army provoke Russia to an attack, after bleeding out the Russians the big take over of all!
    They (DeepState) might fale this time!
    Could that be Trumps plan? I can not believe it! He may be just a new tool of DeepState!

  17. noor aza othman
    February 6, 2019 at 02:34

    Part 3: (from noor aza othman)

    Check out these references why the ILLEGAL Toppling of Venezuelan Pres. Maduro is LINKED to $ZILLIONS worth of URANIUM/THORIUM/LITHIUM/ORO BLANCO/IRIDIUM‘s Conquest/War by TERRORIST NATO/EU/US/ISrael-SOROS in whole LATIN AMERICA – mainly, to build or maintain, or to provide endless fuel for most evil ZioMASONIC-controlled Western-NATO/Israel’s NUCLEAR WEAPON/ENERGY, SPACECRAFTS-SPACE STATIONS and AIRCRAFTS especially!

    1. at – Latin America poised to become uranium superpower

    Cecilia Jamasmie

    Sep. 29, 2012;

    2. at – New Uranium Mining Projects – South/Central America

    last updated 1 Dec 2018;

    3. at – Uranium and thorium series isotopes in recent sediments of the Venezuela Basin, Caribbean Sea


    Marine Geology

    Science Direct
    Volume 68, Issues 1–4, November 1985, Pages 167-185;

    4. at – Geology and Mineral Resource Assessment of the Venezuelan Guayana Shield

    By U.S. Geological Survey and Corporacion Venezolana de Guayana, Tecnica Minera


    5. at – This Breakthrough “Superfuel” is 1,693X More Powerful Than Gasoline

    From the desk of a U.S. State Department Energy Advisor

    Peak Oil
    Page Added on April 24 1017;

    6. at – Why Cashing in on Lithium in South America Won’t Be Easy

    Jun 15, 2018;

    7. at – ABCs of Lithium: An Economic Push in Latin America;


    8. at – Platinum-group Metals Exploration in South America

    Investing News Network
    October 15th, 2013;

    9. at – For U.S. Miners, the Rush Is On to Latin America
    By James Brooke

    APRIL 17, 1994;

    11. at – URANIUM/IRAQ/CUBA
    By Manuel Cereijo
    Guaracabuya, Cuba;

    12. at – Haiti’s Gold, Copper, Uranium 225 and 238 and the world’s largest supply of a rare mineral used in building spacecraft-iridium

    By Tyson B-

    The Handstand

    13. at – Haiti’s Oil, Gold & Iridium Resources: Haiti’s Oil, Gold & Iridium Resources Explains the Post Earthquake Occupation/Invasion

    Jan 26, 2010; and

    14 . at – Cost-effective method of extracting uranium from seawater promises limitless nuclear power

    David Szondy

    New Atlas
    June 14th, 2018;

    • Alois Mueller
      February 7, 2019 at 04:34

      Money kills! Having it and not having it, it always kills!

  18. noor aza othman
    February 6, 2019 at 02:24

    Part 2:
    Whilst Depopulating as many poor Indigenous Liberation Theology Catholic peoples in Latin America, as they can, in their savage genocidal ZioMasonic New World Order! Where’s that hypocrite ICC/UN?

    Whilst conquering also militarily, by NATO-EU/US/ISrael, the strategic maritimes routes such as the Caribbean Sea, The Panama Canal (an artificial waterway in Panama that cuts across the Isthmus of Panama, and connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean), the Mona/Windward/Anegada Passages (the three Passages of the Caribbean, that connects the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, and as important shipping routes between the Atlantic Ocean and the Panama Canal), the Magellan Strait/Drake Passage/Beagle Channel (the three Passages around South America that connects the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans), the Gulf of Mexico, and the whole Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean (among the FIVE major Oceans with all their Seas/Straits/Passages/Canals/Gulfs/Isthmus/deep water Ports etc.). This is in order to transport the $Zillions worth of URANIUM/THORIUM/LITHIUM/ORO BLANCO/IRIDIUM mined or robbed illegally (including from the Sea/Ocean/Volcanoes/Mountain range/River) and also to carry their illegal Nuclear Weapon, freely but hiddenly, globally, with their ILLEGAL Nuclear Submarines (suspectedly, also to create man-made Tsunamis/Earthquakes/Floods/Volcanic Eruption etc. , through under the deep sea/under the earth/inside the Volcano Nuclear Bombing etc., or maybe the Nuclear explosion was actually from mining secretely and illegally, the Uranium/Thorium/Lithium/Oro Blanco/Iridium minerals, from the rocks/corals in the Sea/Ocean/Volcanoes/Mountain range/River) , another hidden MO for most evil ZioMasonic regime change and massive Depopulation agenda, especially in Muslim-Catholic nations!

  19. noor aza othman
    February 6, 2019 at 02:23

    Part 1:

    It’s time these SATANIC ZioMasonic US/UK/EU/NATO/ISrael-Soros regimes – are convicted for all their endless WAR CRIMES and CRIMES against Humanity, as if they OWN the whole world and humanity – where’s that HYPOCRITE ICC/UN
    And yet this most evil and hypocrite TERRORIST US-NATO/ISrael TERRORIST regimes, dare to preach to the world about human rights and democracy?! But they don’t care – and now they are trying to topple the great Left Venezuelan Presi-dent Nicolas Maduro! An soon enough, Bolivia, Guyana, Cuba and Nicaragua too!

    The most evil, barbaric and predatory warmongers NATO-EU/US/ISrael-Soros’s sponsored Coup d’etat (toppling) of the great pro-Palestine Indigenous Left/Catholic Liberation Theology Pres. Nicolas Maduro is actually linked to the $ZILLIONS worth of URANIUM/THORIUM/LITHIUM/ORO BLANCO (newly discovered “Superfuel“ in the Andes Mountains)/IRIDIUM minerals‘ conquest/war in LATIN AMERICA, to build, or maintain, or to provide fuel for Western/Israel’s endless NUCLEAR WEAPON/ENERGY, SPACECRAFTS-SPACE STATIONS and AIRCRAFTS especially (this is also what their main goal of recent regime-change in Brazil, Argentina and Equador is about).

    Thus, the world, have been fooled by these savage ZioMasonic TERRORISTS NATO-EU/US/Israel-Soros – because all the endless savage Genocide in Latin America (consisting of Mexico-South America/Central America and the Caribbeans) – is mainly about conquering/robbing the $ZILLIONS worth of URANIUM/THORIUM/LITHIUM/ORO BLANCO/IRIDIUM minerals-rich Latin America, especially in the Guiana-Shield (one of the three cratons of the South American Plate), the Amazon River System and Basin, the Andes Mountains and the Caribbean Sea, hence preventing the Left Governments of Latin America itself, Iran, Russia and China, or any other non-Western/Israel world, from having access to the Uranium/Thorium/Lithium/Oro Blanco/Iridium mining industry in any anti-NATO/anti-Israel Left-ruled Latin American countries (or anywhere for that matter), especially pro-Palestine or anti-US/NATO Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Haiti and Cuba! This is in order to prevent any other countries, except NATO-EU/US/Israel, from building, fuelling, maintaining and possessing NUCLEAR WEAPONS/NUCLEAR ENERGY/SPACECRAFTS-SPACE STATIONS/AIRCRAFTS!!

  20. Ma Laoshi
    February 6, 2019 at 01:00

    I usually like Patrick Lawrence but there’s a lot of wishful thinking here. “The era of coups is over” just because he says so? And then he illustrates this thesis with the case of Ukraine — where the coup was in fact successful. Yes not all of the West’s hopes have been realized, and a serious price has been paid — by the Ukrainians. Why should Victoria Nuland care? Even in Syria, NATO still controls 1/3 of the territory and 1/2 of the oil, and together with the Israeli mini-me they still bomb Syria with impunity. I hope I’m not shocking Mr. Lawrence, but the true goal may not be to install model democracies in each of these countries; if you can balkanize and destroy, that’s at least a perfectly acceptable consolation prize. And while our attentions were focused on these two geopolitical flashpoints, the US successfully regime-changed Honduras and BRICS crown jewel Brazil — oh and Georgia and Armenia too.

    “Destabilizing other nations […] will no longer go unopposed” Yeah but will it be opposed on Twitter? Or will Venezuelans, Cubans, Russians and Chinese act, like brothers, and go door to door in Caracas to root out the entire traitorous infrastructure? We haven’t seen any of that; at this point in time, this means that we won’t be seeing it. The Dark Trone is also observing this of course, and planning its next moves accordingly.

    • jadez
      February 8, 2019 at 06:39

      at last….a comment that addresses reality

  21. Old Geezer
    February 6, 2019 at 00:39

    It is time for all the righteous socialists in the western hemisphere to immediately support their brothers and sisters of la revoltion and become human shields to prevent the useless capitalists from over turning the will of the people.

    They must now all move to Venezuela to join in the battle.

    And since there isn’t much food left, Michael Moore will finally lose some weight.

  22. February 5, 2019 at 20:36

    “The UK, France, and Spain among a number of countries, have announced their recognition of Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president after Caracas did not cave into an ultimatum calling for snap elections with eight days. ”

    —– And here I thought that the “silver lining” to the disaster of a Trump presidency was that no European leader in their right mind would ever dare appear before their citizens and publicly support and follow the Orange One into the next illegal immoral imperialist U.S. sponsored regime change fiasco. Boy was I wrong! It appears that there is in fact no silver lining whatsoever after all AND that Western European leaders are just as morally bankrupt as our own reality TV star president and his cast of neocon hucksters, military goons, psychopaths and war criminals.

    This is the Western world in complete ethical and moral free-fall hurtling toward the abyss. Oh, and the latest from King Macron is that he’s blaming, who else, “the Russians,” for the Yellow Vest movement currently rocking his little “let them eat neoliberal austerity world.” You know, Facebook, puppies, Pokemon, Yosemite Sam, click-bait ads. Why do I feel like I just dropped in from another freaking planet and I’m searching for intelligent life here on earth, but finding scant evidence it exists? Amazing really. Simply amazing.

    • Alois Mueller
      February 6, 2019 at 04:22


    • Max
      February 6, 2019 at 05:55

      Why? My take is that the European (slaves) leaders will cheer for and advocate all U.S. policies leading to the eventual demise of their master simply because it is their only way to regain their freedom. If they were real allies and friends of the US, they would advise against such stupid endeavors.

    • Litchfield
      February 6, 2019 at 08:58

      Absolutely agree. I cannot grasp that any European leaders are supporting this.
      I am having PTSD regarding Blair and Iraq: Blair’s support of Bush gave the Iraq invasion an imprimatur of respectability that influenced many Americans.

      Now I have NYT readers urging me to make a “principled” support of Guaido, citing all of these European “democracies”!!
      It is like talking to a wall to say: Forced regime change is indefensible! What are you thinking/drinking?
      No doubt getting her opinoins from the likes of the NYT’s Bari Weiss, whom I just saw taken apart on the Jimmy Dore and Joe Rogan shows (see links at ZeroHedge). What a bimbo Weiss is! There, I said it.

    • ML
      February 6, 2019 at 09:33

      Gary, if there’s any comfort for you, a lot of us are right there with you in feeling like aliens from another world with this mess around us… It’s surreal. So I speak up when I can, do as much good as I can, and I try not to forget to laugh and have fun. It’s all I have left.

    • Garrett Connelly
      February 6, 2019 at 10:07

      Yes, England, France and Spain support Trump. Even so, those governments are also sinking under the expense of feeding capitalist leaches.

  23. Mild - ly Facetious
    February 5, 2019 at 20:26

    “What’s next for Venezuela ?”

    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And I wanted to ask you about the significance of Elliott Abrams now being the special envoy to Venezuela, the history of Abrams in Central and South America. He’s got a long, sordid history, in terms of his involvement. He provided military support to the dictator in Guatemala, Efraín Ríos Montt, who was later convicted of genocide. He was responsible for—was involved in, during the Iran-Contra years, and was found guilty of lying to Congress about the Reagan administration’s efforts to provide aid to the Contras in Nicaragua despite a congressional ban. So, Abrams has a long history to any—especially to leaders in Latin America. They all know who he is, and they all know what he does. So, him coming in at this stage?

    DAVID SMILDE: Yeah, I think that’s one of the most disturbing things that has happened in the past couple of weeks, is the naming of Elliott Abrams as envoy for Venezuela. I think, you know, oftentimes U.S. presidential administrations do things that they don’t seem to really be aware of the optics and that really set off alarm bells in the region. I think, in this case, this is the point that really told me that the Trump administration are sort of making Venezuela part of its foreign policy. You know, it almost seems like a sort of “Make America Great Again”-type foreign policy, as Elliott Abrams, as you mentioned, was the architect of one of the darkest periods of U.S. involvement in Latin America, and that is Ronald Reagan’s Central American policy in the 1980s. You know, not only was he involved in Iran-Contra, he was also involved in repeatedly denying the El Mozote massacre.

    And so, I think, you know, having him there speaks clearly to everyone in Latin America and speaks clearly to those of us who have watched Latin America and studied it for a long time, that the U.S.’s intentions here are regime change, and the U.S.’s intentions here are to really impose itself on the situation. I think that’s really unfortunate. I think it really clouds the water and makes the situation much more difficult.

    AMY GOODMAN: Professor Tinker Salas, your response to Elliott Abrams, the point person on Venezuela now?

    MIGUEL TINKER SALAS: But I think it doesn’t speak clearly to the opposition in Venezuela. They have met with Elliott Abrams. They have connected with him. They have not condemned his nomination. The same thing with John Bolton. Why doesn’t Guaidó simply say to the U.S. president, “We don’t want troops on the table as an option. We don’t want a foreign invasion. We do not want U.S. marines. We don’t want John Bolton talking about how he’s going to benefit U.S. companies from our oil. We don’t want Marco Rubio talking about the conditions in Venezuela. We don’t want John Bolton making us part of your geopolitical arrangement for the troika of tyranny and trying to insert us in what you want to revive as a cold war in Latin America. And we don’t want Mr. Elliott Abrams running U.S. policy for Venezuela, because we don’t want his bloodstained hands on our country”? But again, we don’t hear that from the opposition. And that’s what’s troubling about the context in which they’re operating, because they don’t want to talk about this being a coup.

    • Gene Poole
      February 6, 2019 at 03:19

      Appointing Abrams and the message it sent was roughly the equivalent of Junior Bush using the word “crusade” in reference to the US’s so-called “war on terror.”

    • February 6, 2019 at 12:04

      Why would they? Guaido and his “opposition” are part of the coup. Disposable, but useful for now.

    • Mats Larsson
      February 6, 2019 at 15:57

      The U.S. ought to appoint ronald reagan and oliver north president of Latin America. It makes as much sense as anything these days.

  24. Chris
    February 5, 2019 at 20:18

    To his credit, Obama did finally dig in his heels when the liberal hawks and neocons demanded that we supply arms to the Western Ukrainians.

  25. Jeff Harrison
    February 5, 2019 at 20:01

    I remember thinking back in the ’70s and ’80s that the USSR had a particularly ham handed foreign policy. It’s now 40 years later and who has the ham handed foreign policy? I think many of your assessments here are spot on, Patrick, but I think you’re being optimistic if you think that South America is going to rise up to demand their neo-liberal neighbors to the north start playing by the rules. The US has succeeded in salting enough SA countries with right wing or outright fascist governments for that to happen.

    The other thing to look out for will be information warfare. You can see that’s already started. The thing I don’t understand is why, for example, countries allow the likes of the National Endowment for Democracy to operate in their borders. That’s another thing about Putin that pissed the deep state off was when he kicked our “ngos” out of Russia. But as our meddling in other country’s affairs gets closer and closer to home, so do the refugees. The “rapists and drug dealers” that the Cheeto-in-Chief screams about came from Guatemala where we supported if not fomented a coup. Europe is suffering with a huge refugee problem that can be traced directly to US interference in other countries. Interference that they cheer led. They don’t seem to recognize that they are the proximate cause for their problems and they continue to cheer lead slavish support for the next stupid American move. I personally think that neo-liberal is a code word for frontal lobotomy.

    • bevin
      February 6, 2019 at 10:43

      ” The US has succeeded in salting enough SA countries with right wing or outright fascist governments for that to happen..”
      But how long will those governments last? If the Macri government in Argentina is any indication, and I suspect that it is, they are all going to be overwhelmed by popular revulsion-not at their foreign policies, you are right there,- at their neo-liberal austerity measures.

  26. Pedro
    February 5, 2019 at 19:42

    I do believe that if they follow through wrecking another country, especially Venezuela, it will be the last time it is done by the entity known as the United States.

  27. jaycee
    February 5, 2019 at 18:32

    “A middling graduate student in international relations could have (fore)told … that precipitating a coup in Kiev was a reckless, amateurish business.”

    Correct, and it is surprising (or dismaying) that highly-educated persons can advocate policy which is clearly not thought out at all. Ukraine was plunged into a crisis that continues five years later, with no obvious sign of reconciliation ahead or even a basis to discuss reconciliation. Yet, on the table at the same time as the decision was made to “recognize” the coup leaders, was a peaceful and democratic way forward which already was informed by the result of mediation between the two sides. Choosing a crisis over a stable mediated compromise is simply poor thinking. The same sort of thinking seems to be animating events in Venezuela.

    It should be noted that the fulcrum of the new regime-change policy for Latin America is the fantasy-world of south Florida, and support beyond that region might prove to be a little thinner, especially if this Venezuela experiment goes awry.

    • Anne Jaclard
      February 5, 2019 at 19:47

      No, the Ukraine coup was a success in the eyes of the Nuland/ Altlantic Council PNAC FPI circuit because before 2014 the country was aligned with Russia and moderately successful, now it’s a hell hole but no longer within their orbit. Similarly, Syria in 2011 was just as aligned with Russia as it is today but the Israel/ISIS unholy theocratic alliance backed by NATO destroyed the country’s infrastructure and killed tens of thousands of its people. A success from the NATO genocide perspective. The implicit threat to Maduro and the Venezuelan population: if you don’t step aside and reject PSUV forever, we’ll punish you by turning you into Syria. American Psychos Bolton and Abrams want to force them to choose between death by neo liberalism and death by “moderate rebels.”

    • AnneR
      February 6, 2019 at 09:14

      To this “it is surprising (or dismaying) that highly-educated persons can advocate policy which is clearly not thought out at all” I would suggest: not at all.

      1. It depends what one means by “highly educated.” Yes, doubtless at university and beyond a BA. But in which university(ies) and in which subjects? How much were they ever pushed by their school teachers, university professors and milieu to ever think beyond their own (doubtless bourgeois) worldview?

      2. It depends upon what the intended results were. From my observation of and experience with America (and its forebear, Britain), chaos, destruction – these are fine, so long as it all remains “over there” and “our corporate capitalist cronies” benefit, one way or another. And our “real enemies” lose out, again one way or another.

    • Erik G
      February 6, 2019 at 19:45

      Floridians are largely racketeers and opportunists, but simply more relaxed in admitting that than the rest of the US, which seeks only the cheapest prefabricated pretext for the same, such as “protecting democracy.” An unregulated market economy winds up as a culture of gangsters who truly believe that they owe everything to greed.

      Both the Reps and Dems leaders are comfy with genocide, but the Reps don’t like to pay for it, so the defense is purely economic inconvenience.

      Perhaps Russia or China can lease small nuclear deterrent forces to countries under US threat, with control systems requiring the supplier’s approval to launch. The supply of arms to Venezuela would merely echo US conduct in Ukraine. Or they could send in naval forces to parallel US harassment in the Black Sea and South China Sea. The sooner the better. At this point the US would lose the economic battle of another cold war, and perhaps suffer the fate of Russia in the 1990s. Then Russia could march to its borders with proxy forces, as the US did to the USSR. The sooner the better, as we might then restore democracy in the US.

    • Erik G
      February 6, 2019 at 19:48

      Floridians are largely racketeers and opportunists, but simply more relaxed in admitting that than the rest of the US, which seeks only the cheapest prefabricated pretext for the same, such as “protecting democracy.” An unregulated market economy winds up as a culture of gangsters who truly believe that they owe everything to greed.

      Both the Reps and Dems leaders are comfy with genocide, but the Reps don’t like to pay for it, so the defense is purely economic inconvenience.

      Perhaps Russia or China can lease small nuclear deterrent forces to countries under US threat, with control systems requiring the supplier’s approval to launch. The supply of arms to Venezuela would merely echo US conduct in Ukraine. Or they could send in naval forces to parallel US harassment in the Black Sea and South China Sea. The sooner the better. At this point the US would lose the economic battle of another cold war, and perhaps suffer the fate of Russia in the 1990s. Then Russia could march to its borders with proxy forces, as the US did to the USSR. The sooner the US is embargoed the better, as we might then restore democracy in the US.

  28. February 5, 2019 at 18:19

    Venezuela possibly might be one of:
    The “Achievements” of “Our Leaders”

  29. rosemerry
    February 5, 2019 at 18:09

    Great article, clear and important. To see the trio of evil, Bolton, Pence and Abrams, is to wonder how the USA will ever be stopped.

  30. KiwiAntz
    February 5, 2019 at 17:58

    This recent & more blatant Coup attempt by the US serves two purposes? Firstly, it is to restore American unipolar Power & prestige after being humiliated in Syria by the Russians & bogged down in failure in Aftganistan & their humiliation over the Ukraine coup attempt & loss of Crimea? With stunning idiocy & pigheadedness & being unable & unwillingly to admit defeat in their ridiculous Regime change attempts, which time & time again have been a utter failure & disaster, they keep doubling down on the stupidity, hoping for a different result which never comes? Is it any wonder America is becoming the most hated Nation on Earth due to its lawless activities & contempt of International Law? Secondly, OIL, OIL & more OIL is the secondary excuse for its Regime change invasion? The theft of other Nations resources for the benefit of American Corporations! The US contempt for Sovereign Nations such as Venezuela’s right to determine their own futures as is enshrined under International Laws & the United Nations, condemns & prohibits American interference in other Countries domestic affairs & even its own US Constitution prohibits these actions & determines this interference as unlawful! Something has to be done to stop this out of control, corrupt Nation & its insane demonic actions, one way or another, because it can’t be allowed to get away with its immoral, illegal & lawless behaviour!

  31. Robert Mayer
    February 5, 2019 at 17:57

    See utube Florida Maquis (oathtaker) 4 fleet deployment info

  32. evelync
    February 5, 2019 at 17:37

    Meanwhile, as I understand it, for those of us who have had any hope to have our foreign policy publicly debated, offering us an opportunity to demand an end to what has been decades of ugly catastrophic ruinous regime change debacles…….there’s unfortunately dark skies ahead for any hope to have a Democratic candidate who’s not controlled by the Big Banks and the MIC.

    WHY? –
    1. Hillary Clinton is already out pushing Kamala Harris (just that endorsement worries me) and she’s showing her vicious side – attacking Bernie Sanders for not being a Democrat…..

    2. Although the “pledged” delegates will not have a say during the first round in the Democratic primary (a la 2016) it’s unlikely, given how many Dems are expected to run, that anyone will get 50+% on the first round. (A few of those, hopefully, would be outspoken critics of regime change policies. e.g. Tulsi Gabbard, Bernie, Sherrod Brown, hopefully.) But on the second round the committed delegates WILL be back as I understand it returning us, possibly, to the outcome of 2016.

    3. I think Trump won in part because some people on every side of the political spectrum are sick of the endless regime change wars and sick of the shenanigans of the Big Banks. And Hillary was part of all that and not trusted for that reason.

    4. If the Clinton/Biden/Obama regime that has tolerated/supported these catastrophic interventions (Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Honduras 2009….) succeeds via Tom Perez in thwarting a democratic convention in favor of same old same old, we may be in for a repeat of 2016.

    Noam Chomsky, asked about Russian interference in the 2016 election said that any interference that Russia or China or any foreign government may have tried pales in comparison to what’s been manipulated here in the U.S.

    If worried voters’ concerns continue to be ignored by the Democratic and Republican power structure, some of us will be grateful for what Andrew Bacevich calls a multipolar world power structure – U.S. + Europe + China + India (+ Russia as a lower tier economic power) – as Patrick Lawrence explains in this interesting and welcome piece!

    • Anne Jaclard
      February 5, 2019 at 19:40

      The “not a Democrat” nonsense talking point has extended to the State of the Union debate where even MARC LAMONT HILL says that Sanders’s move looks “bad for the party.” Corporate news pieces shame him for not being “loyal” to a party everyone on the left hated and wishes was gone. As for the STOU, it makes sense for Bernie to address Trump as an equal – he’s the real leader of the left opposition and since the US has no PMQs this is his only chance to highlight the failings of the Trump Regime in a debate-like format. The Democrats are the “moderate” option no-one wants (as Zizek has pointed out time and again).

    • February 6, 2019 at 12:18

      It’s a waste of time to worry about who is a Democrat and which Democrat will be running against Trump. It doesn’t matter! Haven’t the last 50 years shown us that?
      The U.S. is not the shining democracy we were taught it was. Our time and energy will be better spent by admitting the painful truth and building a party/movement that benefits the majority of our citizens rather than placing our hopes in these bloodless criminals every four years.

  33. F. G. Sanford
    February 5, 2019 at 17:11

    Bibi, old pal, this is Vlad. I just called because things look so bad.
    Those imperial yanks are up to old pranks,
    And they’re spoiling plans that we had.

    Venezuela owes us lots of dough. Along comes this punk named Guaido.
    Thanks to Bolton and Pence, we’ll incur some expense,
    They claim righteousness based on Monroe!

    You’ve got friends over there at AIPAC. They could help keep Maduro on track
    The Freedom Flotilla could be a real thrilla,
    If destroyers should escort them back!

    There are lots of irate Lebanese. They’re explosive but easy to please.
    We could ship in some cargo you’d rather embargo,
    But so could those naughty Chinese!

    The Saudis are also unstable. They know that your friendship’s a fable.
    We could stir up a spat with some sly diplomat,
    All it takes is a Zimmerman cable!

    Golan Heights has a fortune in oil. Tensions could come to a boil.
    Assad wants it back, he could counterattack,
    We could help him according to Hoyle!

    With your help we could stop a black swan. The Chinese won’t take back Taiwan.
    There’s Ukraine to invade, Poland’s always afraid,
    And nobody counts on Macron!

    So if you get AIPAC to back us, it would help out a lot in Caracas.
    Tell Abrams and Pence to use their good sense,
    We can always blame you if they frack us!

    • rosemerry
      February 5, 2019 at 18:13

      Marvellous!!!! Just what is needed to reduce the gloom while taking in the seriousness.

    • Robert Mayer
      February 5, 2019 at 18:44

      Thanx F.G. Sanford! (&Cn) Haven’t done a lyric in a while… Hope u like

      So what it’s in our own hemisphere…
      JQPublic got nuthin’ ta fear
      We shot off in Nevada
      So the nearness don’t matta
      Hand our buds oil onna gold platta!

    • mark stanley
      February 5, 2019 at 19:13

      When I become King would you consider the honorary post as court poet?

    • Chris
      February 5, 2019 at 20:16

      Ha ha! Nice.

    • Sam F
      February 6, 2019 at 12:13

      Very well done and fun; thanks!

  34. y
    February 5, 2019 at 15:42

    Revive the Monroe Doctrine? I wasn’t aware it had expired.

    • Gene Poole
      February 6, 2019 at 03:57

      Good point. What Trump is doing (or what the US Permanent State is doing with its most recent puppet) is just business as usual. Remember that the US did in Nicaragua in 1910. Or you can go back to Hawaii and the overthrow of its constitutional monarchy, still in the 19th century. The only difference is that Trump is going back to that old-fashioned style. But let me ask: What difference has any action taken by the American people to denounce what’s done in its name ever made? And what difference has electing a Carter or an Obama made? And let me answer: None. “The business of America is…” – at least in the Western Hemisphere. And Americans accept that.

      • Litchfield
        February 6, 2019 at 09:19

        For chapter and verse on the USA’s imperialistic and exceptionalist DNA, going back to the early years of the republic, read David Ray Griffin’s The American Trajectory: Divine or Demonic?

        Highly recommended—and very depressing.

        I think the only way this violent foreign policy will be stopped will be with the demise of the USA. This country just can’t help it. And, our current living standards, as questionable as they are when compared to other developed countries’, do depend on this insanity. In their gut I think Americans know this, and can’t see any alternative. Certainly not on the political horizon. So we stumble along with ever-deteriorating infrastructure and social arrangements, but afraid of the alternative to change. I just don’t think we will see Americans in the streets. Hell, I am not in the streets. And I don’t see any protests in my neighborhood . . .

  35. Brian James
    February 5, 2019 at 15:40

    Feb 2, 2019 The REAL Reason The U.S. Wants Regime Change in Venezuela

    The U.S. and its allies have decided to throw their weight behind yet another coup attempt in Venezuela. As usual, they claim that their objectives are democracy and freedom. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

    • February 6, 2019 at 12:26

      The U.S is not just throwing its weight behind this coup attempt. It is the mastermind and has been working on it ever since Hugo Chavez was elected. It failed once and I fervently hope will fail again.

  36. RG
    February 5, 2019 at 15:36

    Right on, Mr. Lawrence. But it seems as the date advances in years, so the IQ of US politicians declines exponentially.

  37. hetro
    February 5, 2019 at 15:25

    Recommended: Vijay Prashad: “The Twelve Step Method of Regime Change”

    Excerpt: (not “international gangsterism”)

    “US business firms, such as the telecommunication giant ITT, the soft drink maker Pepsi Cola and copper monopolies such as Anaconda and Kennecott, put pressure on the US government once Allende nationalised the copper sector on 11 July 1971. Chileans celebrated this day as the Day of National Dignity (Dia de la Dignidad Nacional). The CIA began to make contact with sections of the military seen to be against Allende. Three years later, on 11 September 1973, these military men moved against Allende, who died in the regime change operation. The US ‘created the conditions’ as US National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger put it, to which US President Richard Nixon answered, ‘that is the way it is going to be played’. Such is the mood of international gangsterism.”

    • hetro
      February 5, 2019 at 15:26

      note “international gangsterism”

      • Anne Jaclard
        February 5, 2019 at 19:53

        Same forces at work today! National Endowment for Democracy (the flagship regime change NGO of the empire) funded by Exxon-Mobil, Goldman Sachs, Boeing, Ford Motor Company, Carnegie, Citigroup, Waste Management, Visa, and other multinational corporations who want a slice of the imperial profit pie.

  38. Sally Snyder
    February 5, 2019 at 15:07

    As shown in this article, John Bolton’s recent comments on Venezuela have made it very clear that Washington is doomed to repeat its past mistakes in South America:

    It’s always about profiteering for Corporate America.

  39. hetro
    February 5, 2019 at 15:05

    A clear and trenchant report. Let’s have more of it.

    Key phrasings here, such as “hunger-inducing sanctions”; “destabilizing other nations in gross violation of international law”; “troika of tyranny” (from John Bolton) are vital for ordinary people to look at closely and wake up to what the US government is up to at this time. We can also take the “destabilizing” comment joined to “hunger-inducing sanctions” and connect these to the following report:

    Here we have the brutal reality of what is happening to the victims Washington is creating, and why, as from the destabilized middle east, a destabilized South America is producing an ongoing stream of refugees/victims.

    I suggest we parachute Trump, Bolton, et al into the middle of a refugee caravan, sleeping at night with 50 to a room, including tiny babies, so he might check out what these people are feeling in response to his policies.

  40. Andrew X
    February 5, 2019 at 14:55

    Spain, which has a socialist government, has also recognized Juan Guaido as interim president. How do you explain that?

    • Groucho
      February 5, 2019 at 15:58

      Guaidó has no legitimate claim to the Venezuelan presidency. He is a usurper and a US puppet. The Spanish government’s opinion doesn’t change that.

    • Donald Duck
      February 5, 2019 at 17:34

      Simple. Spain’s ‘socialist’ government is socialist in name only.

    • Cratylus
      February 5, 2019 at 17:36

      Not every question revolves around socialism or capitalism – in fact most do not.
      The central question at this time is whether Western Imperialism which is now led by the US and which has dominated for the last 500 years will be able to continue to dominate.
      Spain is a neocolonial power, one of the pioneers of Western Imperialism, and so it is not surprising that it should take the side of the US.

      With the recovery of Russia and the rise of China with India only a bit farther behind, the answer seems clear – Western dominance is a thing of the past.
      In PPP-GDP terms, China is number one, US number two, India number three, Japan number four and Russia and Germany roughly tied for number five/six. By 2030 Price Waterhouse says the rank will be: China far ahead of all others, next India far ahead of all the remaining, the US far ahead of the remaining, and then the rest clustered together with Russia at the top ahead of Japan and Germany etc.
      Is it hard to see that a multipolar world is upon us?

      With the US is running amok destroying nations while China has NO wars and has brought 700 million out of poverty, is it hard to see who the majority of the people of the planet are starting to look to for leadership in their own development?
      The time for the US is past. It reached its violent peak in the years 1949-1975 when the decline began.

      • DemocracyFailing
        February 6, 2019 at 00:01

        Very perceptive. I just don’t get the stupidity of the decision makers in Washington who are throwing away the little respect that the world holds for many of the good that the US has done in the past. The repeated military failures since the high tide of WW2 have been squandered and drained the US economy. The US had a civil war with limited interference from other nations – can’t they just let other nations work out their own differences? Obviously not – the US cannot clone their society onto another but they keep on (cluelessly) trying and failing.

    • rosemerry
      February 5, 2019 at 18:06

      I saw an article where the US “heavies” pressured Spain and they gave in. Macron of course , May and Merkel too.

      • Gene Poole
        February 6, 2019 at 04:02

        Link, please!

    • TS
      February 6, 2019 at 16:23

      > Spain, which has a socialist government, has also recognized Juan Guaido as interim president. How do you explain that?

      Simple: it doesn’t…

  41. Anne Jaclard
    February 5, 2019 at 14:42

    One thing that should definitely be stressed is that the “recognitions by European countries” of Venezuela’s Washington-appointed opposition figurehead is that these aren’t objective “countries” with any sort of moral weight. Say “Macron” recognizes the coup, or “May” supports it. The left shouldn’t give a damn about backing from these enemies of the people of their countries and should instead consider it more important that Die Linke, France Insoumise, Labour, the DSA, and the leading left parties in each of these countries recognise Maduro. This is political, not “national-based,” it’s left vs right and we should be clear where we stand and who we recognise as legitimate voices.

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