Venezuela: Failed Coup Argues for New Approach

The Trump administration should set aside its disinformation campaign and start looking at reality, says Fulton Armstrong.

By Fulton Armstrong
Special to Consortium News

The Trump administration’s approach to Venezuela have both policy and intelligence failure written all over them. But its spokesmen continue to think that louder condemnations of President Nicolás Maduro and macho threats will somehow work. They can huff and puff as furiously as they want, but some houses – even houses run by less-than-competent authoritarian leaders – aren’t so easily blown down.

Leopoldo López: Guaidó’s Venezuelan mentor. (Zfigueroa via Wikimedia Commons)

Leopoldo López: Rough night Tuesday. (Zfigueroa via Wikimedia Commons)

Venezuelan National Assembly President Juan Guaidó’s coup attempt on Tuesday was doomed from the start.  Whether he and his Washington backers were simply deluding themselves, or whether Maduro’s guys masterfully tricked them, they naively thought the military high command would hoist Guaidó on their shoulders and carry him to Miraflores Palace as president. 

What happened instead was a huge – potentially fatal in political terms – embarrassment for Guaidó and the U.S. government. 

For Guaidó’s Venezuelan mentor, Leopoldo López – founder of the “Popular Will” party – the escapade ended with an ignominious run into the Chilean Embassy (and later to the Spanish embassy) with his wife and daughter, after having been freed from house arrest by Guaidó’s forces.  López is young and still has many political lives ahead of him but, for the man who has directed the violent protests to oust Maduro beginning in 2013, dinner conversation Tuesday night could not have been pleasant.

This is yet another U.S. intelligence failure.  Secretary of State (and former CIA Director) Mike Pompeo’s statements to the media that, “We had the most senior leader come across yesterday and leave Maduro” and “We had dozens of others, military, depart Maduro’s forces” – appears to confirm that the coup was, as many suspect, a U.S. operation.

But the analytical foundation of this covert action was so shaky that even Pompeo’s defectors couldn’t make a whit of difference.  Was the U.S. intelligence community enthralled by the putschists, or was this a case, yet again, such as in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, of the agencies contorting its “analysis” to please the policymakers?  Instead of telling “truth to power,” as intel types claim they do, did they just capitulate again?

Cuban Capers

The administration’s intelligence on Cuba’s role in Venezuela also appears to be deeply flawed.  Senior officials make wild allegations about the number and role of Cuban advisors in the country without a shred of evidence.  It’s difficult to hide 25,000 Cuban military “goons” in a freewheeling country like Venezuela for 20 years, as the administration claims. 

I was U.S. national intelligence officer for Latin America when all (repeat: all) 15 intelligence agencies resisted the efforts of John Bolton, now U.S. national security advisor, to manipulate intelligence on Cuba with allegations (still unfounded 17 years later) that the island had a biological weapons program.  I’ve witnessed Bolton’s ire. I fear for those Venezuelans who’ve frustrated his grand schemes for their country.

Bolton: Intel manipulator. (Gage Skidmore via Flickr)

After failing to overthrow the Venezuelan government in “Operación Libertad,” as they named this coup attempt, Pompeo did at least succeed in overthrowing some of the truth.  He alleged that Maduro tried to leave the country and had to be persuaded by Russia to stay, which Maduro denied. Maybe this sort of disinformation worked for him at CIA. But Pompeo sullied the office of secretary of state with it  – even for a department that brands senior Venezuelan officials with such middle-school epithets as “lackeys” and “thugs.”  Vice President Mike Pence’s ending to his Tweet endorsing the coup – “Vayan con Diós”– seems based on bad intelligence about Venezuela’s mindset as well.  Saying “Go with God” doesn’t exactly work with people who’re suffering from, among other things, U.S. sanctions.

Is the Intelligence Community the Enabler?

Serious analysts surely know that the failed coup comes on the heels of a long string of failed attempts to provoke Maduro into doing something so horrific that either the military ousts him or the administration gets its pretext for its oft-threatened military action.  The U.S. dared Maduro to harm U.S. diplomats and, after he didn’t, the State Department withdrew the potential martyrs from Caracas.  The administration dared him to attack a humanitarian shipment entering from Colombia in February, but again he let the U.S. down.  (The only danger resulted from a Molotov cocktail, thrown by “opposition” gangs that set a truck full of food on fire.) Washington dared Maduro to arrest Guaidó after he returned from that debacle, but he didn’t. 

But the Trump administration’s red-line is the survival itself of  the “ex-Maduro Regime” (as the administration calls it).  For a White House that made a huge deal over President Barack Obama’s failure to act when his red-line in Syria was crossed, Maduro remaining in power is infuriating (and embarrassing).  That fury is compounded by the administration’s inability to retaliate against China, Russia, North Korea, and others for supporting Maduro. These are countries that can fight back. 

Pence, Guaido and President Iván Duque Márquez of Colombia, Feb. 25, 2019 (White House/ D. Myles Cullen)

Pence, Guaido and President Iván Duque Márquez of Colombia, Feb. 25, 2019 (White House/ D. Myles Cullen)

Whether the U.S. decides to launch military attacks of any nature against Venezuela is the big question.  Based on the administration’s frustration and bad intelligence it appears to be going down that road. If U.S. officials were to let precedent (such as the thousands of innocent people killed in Panama in 1989 to remove one drug-dealer, Manuel Noriega) and common sense guide them (instead of installing an untested oppositionist with a checkered past like Guaidó to replace Maduro), they’d focus instead on diplomatic efforts to start a negotiation aimed at finding a peaceful outcome. 

But the Trump administration has worked hard to block negotiations. It has directed Guaidó to reject any form of talks, and it has discouraged U.S. allies in Europe and Latin America from supporting them.  It added Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza to a sanctions list usually reserved for narco-traffickers, serial human rights violators, and truly odious types because, it seems, he was making progress channeling energies toward a diplomatic, negotiated solution.

Arreaza: Sanctioned for seeking democratic solution. (Wikimedia Commons)

Arreaza: Sanctioned for seeking democratic solution. (Wikimedia Commons)

The U.S. military can destroy the “ex-Maduro regime” with its high-tech weaponry, and the Venezuelan High Command would come out with its hands up. Many people would rush toward U.S. vehicles full of food and goodies.  But no gun is going to resolve the Venezuelan mess. 

An Internal Matter

Venezuela has a Venezuelan problem, of which former President Hugo Chávez and Maduro are symptoms.  Their predecessors were not the democrats that the Trump team would have us believe they were – another intelligence failure – and Juan Guaidó and Leopoldo López are not the moral equivalents of our Founding Fathers as the Trump people claim. 

Unfortunately, there are no white hats in Venezuela, just varying shades of dark gray.  That’s why the U.S. position should focus on process – negotiations, compromise, institution-building – rather than foregone results such as the installation of someone like Guaidó.

For analysts a tenet of faith is that good analysis will contribute to good policy.  The Trump administration should set aside its disinformation campaign and start looking at reality, even if the intelligence community is no longer free to do so. 

Negotiations are absolutely essential to achieving an outcome less catastrophic than U.S. policy is currently taking us toward.

Fulton Armstrong is a former U.S. national intelligence officer for Latin America, and a former staff member of the National Security Council and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

56 comments for “Venezuela: Failed Coup Argues for New Approach

  1. Red Robbo
    May 12, 2019 at 03:12

    The writer is to be commended for not mentioning socialism!

    Thatcher: ‘there is only one economic system in the world, and that is capitalism. The difference lies in whether the capital is in the hands of the State or whether the greater part of it is in the hands of people outside of State control,’ (House of Commons speech, 24 November, 1976).

    “Maduro recognizes Venezuela is still a capitalist-based economy…” (Popular Resistance newsletter, 27 May, 2018).

  2. John Law
    May 3, 2019 at 22:04

    This is an interesting piece by a person that shows us how the USA will interfere with any country, for example, electing Boris Yeltsin or invading Russia in 1919 and expect that the country will be licking our ass. I’m sure he thinks N Korea is ungrateful for the help we gave it building institutions in 1945-now and if only we continue instructing it with the tough love of humanitarian cruise missiles they will give up.

    One reason the Venezuela coup did not work is the lower ranks and militias would not let anyone live that sold them out.
    Another is that there is enough leadership that will not sell out. Venezuela is too big and too organized to be taken militarily. 10 years, 20, 30, 40 it will not matter how much military unless you kill all of them just like Vietnam/Afghanistan/Iraq/Somalia, etc. They won’t bend the knee.

  3. May 3, 2019 at 12:42

    The three men are holding hands rather erotically..

  4. John Drake
    May 3, 2019 at 11:22

    I am shocked that this article is in CN; the author assumes that the business of Venezuela is the business of Washington. His critique of the Chavez/Maduro government ignores the tremendous strides in public welfare since the start of the Bolivarian Revolution. Of course there are problems; they haven’t diversified from dependence on oil revenues , and of course the CIA has been messing around in the hood since the get go. It is a developing country, what the hell does he expect?
    Bottom line is the US should mind its own business(fixing our own train wreck of a country) and stay out of other countries affairs. The US track record shows nothing but chaos and failed states and megadeath.

  5. Jeff Harrison
    May 3, 2019 at 11:01

    The real problem is the jokers in the US deep state that are hell bent on war – Pompous, Revoltin’ Bolton, War Criminal Eliot Abrams, and hangers on like Marco Rubio, and various members of the usual suspects – the CIA and FBI.

  6. Skip Scott
    May 3, 2019 at 07:43

    This is a very interesting piece from Moon of Alabama:

    • Bob Van Noy
      May 3, 2019 at 10:14

      Nice addition Skip Scott. Here is a statement from the Saker in that article:

      As the Saker remarks:
      “The Empire only appears to be strong. In reality it is weak, confused, clueless and, most importantly, run by a sad gang of incompetent thugs who think that they can scare everybody into submission in spite of not having won a single significant war since 1945. The inability to break the will of the people of Venezuela is only the latest symptom of this mind-boggling weakness.”

      “most importantly, it is run by a sad gang of incompetent thugs who think they can scare everybody into submission….”

      The Saker is deadly accurate in this statement except that at heart,the American People have never sought Empire. In fact, since the coup in 1963, America has never had the opportunity to decide for itself what it wants to be…

  7. May 3, 2019 at 05:46

    Venezuela didn’t have a problem until the US began interfering. You’re leading with disinformation also. Chavez turned the country around from the problems, Maduro is simply attempting to continue that, while under staunchly more interference. Maduro hasn’t had the opportunity to truly be judge towards good or bad policies with the constant economic war being waged on the country. To attempt to do so is more false narrative. I would argue that the coup taking so long and out lasting with the minimal harm it has is actually a measure of good policy from Maduro as he manged to complete the 3 million home project Chavez started just months ago. With the vast majority of the population still behind him speaks volumes! All present problems and harm in the country have been manufactured by the right inside the country and outside interference. Period! Speak the truth!

  8. tonto
    May 3, 2019 at 01:44

    This piece borders on neoliberal propaganda. It should be of concern to all readers of Consortium News that the editors saw fit to publish it on their otherwise estimable Web site.

  9. May 2, 2019 at 22:38

    Yes, we could leave starving people at the mercy of their evil and totalitarian masters. We could. But I’m glad that we don’t. There has to be an internationally based fail safe when a government fails so badly that its people are reduced to living like helpless animals. The United States is the force for good in this conflict, and Maduro represents bad.

    What’s the counter argument to freeing the Venezuelan people? It’s better to keep them enslaved? How does that make the world a better place?

    • Fred Hewitt
      May 3, 2019 at 16:02

      It’s unlikely that you read the article. I would say let the people of Venezuela remain enslaved just as the people of Palestine are.

    • CitizenOne
      May 4, 2019 at 11:09

      The US needs to stop freeing people. This is and was always just a big lie to coverup the enslavement that was actually about to happen.

      The lies about freeing people going back to the beginning of US expansionism and probably further are the same dry rotted words that are escaping your lips like poison. These evil words, “restoring freedom” have been responsible for the deaths of millions of innocent lives at the hands of the US military. For it is never our intent to give freedom to anyone.

      Mark Twain put it like this:

      “In a February 1901 article titled, “To the Person Sitting in Darkness,” he continued to criticize the U.S.:

      There must be two Americas: one that sets the captive free, and one that takes a once-captive’s new freedom away from him, and picks a quarrel with him with nothing to found it on; then kills him to get his land. . .

      True, we have crushed a deceived and confiding people; we have turned against the weak and the friendless who trusted us; we have stamped out a just and intelligent and well-ordered republic; we have stabbed an ally in the back and slapped the face of a guest; we have bought a Shadow from an enemy that hadn’t it to sell; we have robbed a trusting friend of his land and his liberty; we have invited clean young men to shoulder a discredited musket and do bandit’s work under a flag which bandits have been accustomed to fear, not to follow; we have debauched America’s honor and blackened her face before the world. . .

      And as for a flag for the Philippine Province, it is easily managed. We can have a special one–our States do it: we can have just our usual flag, with the white stripes painted black and the stars replaced by the skull and cross-bones.”

      You would be that first American.

      • CitizenOne
        May 4, 2019 at 11:15

        Well I have to make exceptions for the big wars. WWI and WWII. Somebody else was busy “restoring freedom” and we won that fight thus actually preserving freedom.

  10. Marthe Raymond
    May 2, 2019 at 22:16

    Less-than-competent authoritarian leaders? Maduro has withstood the coup attempts, sanctions, threats, street violence and whatever else the US has cooked up to overthrow the government. He’s quite competent. And he’s not authoritarian–he’s a very measured conciliator with an accomplished history as a diplomat before becming president. This is disinformation.

  11. vinnieoh
    May 2, 2019 at 18:08

    Just want to add my 2 cents agreeing with DW Bartoo, Skip Scott, and AnneR and saving me from ‘splaining all that, especially that Chavez and the Bolivarian movement’s great crime is that of “governing while being socialist.”

    I wrote several long rambling paragraphs that I just deep-sixed, swinging away at the author for his veiled and opaque references to Chavez and the Bolivarians’ failures. Re-read the piece several more times and would just like to say that it is not only unnecessary to make those glib obligatory qualifications, but it is counter-productive when the IMMEDIATE need, as an American “expert” addressing the American establishment, it is imperative to stand up for the rule of law and the sovereign self-determination of every nation. Period.

  12. May 2, 2019 at 15:03

    It seems the USA has made such a mess of the Middle East and failed to repair anything that now they’re off to Venezuela to stir that up. These psychopathic, militaristic, capitalistic corporatists cannot learn anything. Their bloody hands are in every pot. Trump is the latest frontman and conman, brought to heel by the Pentagon which has run the sick show for a long, long time. And they can’t even pass an audit! Imagine China or Russia acting like USA! These pictures on TV are nothing but sound-bite propaganda, one has to search alternative websites to learn the truth.

  13. Nona
    May 2, 2019 at 12:35

    Ha! Any gov. that refuses to obey the U. S. , is labeled a “regime”.
    And the reason Venz. Is that n the sorry condition n it is, is because of the U. S.
    The common peopl. voted in Maduro. Guaido is a self anointed clown. The more the U. S. pushes this clown, the more the Venezuelans will resist. They don’t want this fool.

    The only ones wanting the Gringos in there are the rich and land owners whose properties have been taken away to give to the poor. The rich – including the foreign corp and oil cos. want it all, and to have things like they were before Chavez. The great amount of people love Maduro.

    Yanki Go Home!

  14. leon anderson
    May 2, 2019 at 12:32

    The US’s intervention in Venezuela is a brazen display of chutzpa, ignoring sovereignty and international law. This behavior can only reduce America’s stature in the world.

    • Fred Hewitt
      May 3, 2019 at 16:17

      US stature in the world could never be harmed. All the major European powers have endorsed US policy toward Venezuela. And they are the world view that count!

  15. May 2, 2019 at 10:04

    Watching this carnival of endless lies, uber-violence and idiocy based out of Washington one can’t help but think we’re finally watching yet another phase in the complete disintegration not only of American empire, but of any vestige of a functional human society.

    • softech Steve Abbott
      May 2, 2019 at 23:34

      Yes, well if only it were only the US that participates in and practices the carnival of lies, one might have some hope, but as you say, it is the amorphous blob of toadies that constitutes the American empire. The bypassing of UN and OAS charters are tolerated by western news viewers, because after all, there is almost unanimity in the “Lima Group”. Viewers might be more likely to resist that conclusion if reminded that the Lima Group was formed specifically with with the intent of overthrowing the Venezuelan government in violation of those charters. It is only surprising that their unanimity is not complete, as the government of Mexico changed after the group had been formed. Canada and several Latin-American states, dependent on bartering for American good will, sold out in that respect. More or less, the same deal applies to Toadies in Europe, who depend on hoodwinking their own populations with repetitive lies about Venezuela, as they were about Iraq, Libya, Syria, and truth-be-known, about virtually every war back to Korea, and certainly to some extent, all the way back to WW1.

    • May 3, 2019 at 00:23

      Unfortunately, there are no white hats in USA, just varying shades of dark gray. However, some guys, notably Abrams, Bolton and Pompeo walk around in their underwear as their pants burned down just recently. Nobody wants to investigate why…

  16. Wade
    May 2, 2019 at 09:38

    Who is the only Democratic 2020 candidate courageous enough to say no US intervention in Venezuela? She says the United States should talk with Russia and the opposing sides to resolve the problem peacefully in the interest of the Venezuelan people (see Fox News story). Tulsi Gabbard (Tulsi2020) had the courage to says this while others beat war drums or remain silent, including Joe Biden and others who are part of the Democratic Establishment who say Maduro must go and be replaced by the US puppets Guido and Lopez!!!

    • Bethany
      May 2, 2019 at 19:03

      Absolutely agree.

    • Tom Kath
      May 2, 2019 at 23:58

      It is revealing and disappointing that courage and decency can’t make it in USA. They tell me that the American population cannot even seriously consider Tulsi.

    • Fred Hewitt
      May 3, 2019 at 16:41

      Tulsi Gabbard is just another voice crying in the wilderness. The Courage and decency to go against CONGRESS reflect her truth-telling
      humanistic bent. She just could very well be another Barbara Lee – that’s all!

  17. May 2, 2019 at 08:59

    Readers may enjoy my take on the coup attempt:

    John Bolton insists it was not a coup because the United States recognizes Guaido. How’s that for logic?

    Apparently, now, Bolton is pushing hard for military action.

    Even the Pentagon does not think this is a good idea, and there was apparently a very harsh and argumentative meeting between some Bolton fanatics and a senior Pentagon general.

    I can’t imagine how anyone in the United States thinks this nasty piece-of-work, Bolton, does anything but drag down into the gutter the reputation of the United States throughout the world.

    He’s as dangerous a man as some of Hitler’s associates – just as fanatical and violent.

  18. jmg
    May 2, 2019 at 07:07

    Well, president Bolton seems to be in control now.

    At least ex-president Trump lasted seven months, before starting to cave to the military-industrial complex with his Afghanistan speech: “My original instinct was to pull out. And historically, I like following my instincts. But all my life I’ve heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office, in other words, when you’re president of the United States.”

    A tentative list…

    Effective Presidents of the United States

    – President John F. Dulles (Jan 1953 – Apr 1959)
    – President Allen W. Dulles (Apr 1959 – Apr 1961)
    – President John F. Kennedy (Apr 1961 – Nov 1963)
    – President Allen W. Dulles (Nov 1963 – Jul 1964)
    – President Earle G. Wheeler (Jul 1964 – Jan 1969)
    – President Henry A. Kissinger (Jan 1969 – Dec 1974)
    – President Nelson A. Rockefeller (Dec 1974 – Jan 1977)
    – President James E. Carter (Jan 1977 – Apr 1980)
    – President Zbigniew K. Brzezinski (Apr 1980 – Jan 1981)
    – President George H. W. Bush (Jan 1981 – Jan 1993)
    – President Warren M. Christopher (Jan 1993 – Jan 1997)
    – President Madeleine J. K. Albright (Jan 1997 – Jan 2001)
    – President Richard B. Cheney (Jan 2001 – Jan 2009)
    – President Hillary R. Clinton (Jan 2009 – Jan 2013)
    – President John O. Brennan (Jan 2013 – Jan 2017)
    – President Donald J. Trump (Jan 2017 – Aug 2017)
    – President James N. Mattis (Aug 2017 – Apr 2018)
    – President John R. Bolton (Apr 2018 – )

    • Skip Scott
      May 2, 2019 at 08:20

      Great list jmg, and very true.

    • Bob Van Noy
      May 2, 2019 at 08:36

      Brilliant list jmg, full of insight and likely accurate…

    • May 2, 2019 at 09:01

      Your list is as deadly accurate as the bullets that splattered John Kennedy’s head into the streets of Dallas.

      • jmg
        May 2, 2019 at 15:56

        John, yes, as it’s well-known, three months into his presidency (April of 1961, during the Bay of Pigs invasion of Venez… errr Cuba sorry), Kennedy suddenly realized there is an unbounded power—because unlimited secrecy gives unlimited power—that deceives and manipulates presidents. And he fought back, becoming a true president. In November of 1963 he said it once more:

        “But again, as in the Bay of Pigs, he blamed the CIA for manipulation, and in this case, assassination. In his anger at the CIA’s behind-the-scenes role in the deaths of Diem and Nhu, he said to his friend Senator George Smathers, ‘I’ve got to do something about those bastards.’ He told Smathers that ‘they should be stripped of their exorbitant power.’ He was echoing his statement after the Bay of Pigs that he wanted ‘to splinter the CIA in a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds.’”
        (James W. Douglass: “JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters”, chapter 5)

  19. KiwiAntz
    May 2, 2019 at 06:55

    Why should Venezuela negotiate with a Terrorist, Crimminal Nation called the US? What business does America have in trying to overthrow a Sovereign Country & its democratically elected Leader, Maduro & its Govt? Hands off Venezuela you a**holes! Its absolutely disgusting what this immoral, lawless Nation is being allowed to get away with? And watching the imbecile Pompeo & Bolton with his droopy moustache getting droopier by the day with every miserable, humiliating & failed, bungled Coup attempt in Venezuela shows how delusional & incompetent the US Empire of chaos is? Trump, underfire & under attack at home on the domestic front & his incompetent Govt’s Foreign affairs disaster’s mounting by the day, hopefully this Coup failure heaps more humiliation’s on this despicable &
    contemptible Country!

  20. LJ
    May 2, 2019 at 06:44

    Trump appointed Bolton to National Security Adviser. This is Bolton’s way. They let Elliot Abrams do his thing in Venezuela, Not good. Poor judgement here by Trump for certain. Typical for all of them. Now Trump has to walk off, back away and declare Victory. How can he unless he fires them and decides to run a Realist Foreign Policy? Then he has to get rid of Pompeo as well. Don’t see that happening. All the ‘Realists”, like the author of this article, have been forced out of government. . The Democrats want Maduro’s head just like Little Marco Rubio and Pence . Unfortunately some kind of Military force may be exercised but that would be really stupid. Even the current crew of lackeys running Brazil and Columbia should realize how much it will cost their nations to occupy Venezuela for us. Maybe they will wake up and smell their own coffee beans. But the USA has proven in the past that we can bribe those guys ( South American Right Wing puppets) to do anything that does not require success…,just a few more dollars.

  21. Tom
    May 2, 2019 at 04:45

    Not that I support Trump but do you think Trump would be in Venezuela without Russiagate?

    Didn’t Trump want to work with Russia?

    Trump even unknowingly has exposed the neoconservatives as the dangerous anti democratic criminals they are.

    No more pretending

    • May 2, 2019 at 09:06

      Please, the attacks against Venezuela go back into Obama’s day.

      Obama was a man who always did the CIA’s bidding.

      They’ve been under economic attack for years.

      Trump’s ugly gang has just picked the pace and noise level.

      America, as run by the CIA and Pentagon,is a fundamentally unfair country and one dedicated to violence to get its way.

      • bostonblackie
        May 2, 2019 at 16:56

        The attacks against Venezuela go back to the Bush/CIA days, when they launched an unsuccessful coup against Chavez in 2002.

    • Zinx
      May 2, 2019 at 12:57

      There’s only one “new approach” worth considering, GTFO and lift the sanctions. For freedom.

    • Bethany
      May 2, 2019 at 19:10

      Agree. If H. Clinton were president, the Liberal majority would turn a blind eye as they did during Obama’s tenure. Trump occupying the theatrical role of president is perhaps a real eye opener for people who prefer to ignore the truth… although, in the end, I don’t think it’s going to matter. This country is on a one-way, irreversible trip to the bottom.

      • Bethany
        May 2, 2019 at 19:12

        This was meant as a reply to Tom above.

  22. DW Bartoo
    May 2, 2019 at 03:42

    I am curious, Fulton Armstrong.

    What “problem”, very specifically, are “President Hugo Chavez and Maduro” symptomatic of?

    You assert that the “problem” is “a Venezuelan problem”.

    It seems to me that the clear and presently dangerous “problem” is that Venezuela is being threatened by the U$.

    A “problem” shared with a number of other nations at present, including Cuba, North Korea, and Iran. As well, the very same “problem” has been very violently experienced, in the past, by more nations than may easily be enumerated.

    It would seem that many people around the world agree, that the primary threat to peace, and the main “problem”, they face, whatever the internal realities of their own nations and societies, which realities are THEIR business and responsibility, is the U$, and its brutal use of the weapons of war, be they bombs, drones, missiles, or economic sanctions.

    • Skip Scott
      May 2, 2019 at 08:25

      The Venezuelan problem is that the majority of the population support socialism, and that is not permitted by the forces of empire. Fulton seems to think that is somehow “negotiable”, despite all the evidence to the contrary considering the history of US involvement in Latin America. I wonder if he’s read “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man”?

    • AnneR
      May 2, 2019 at 09:26

      Yes indeed, DW, Armstrong , while rightly criticizing the Trump admin, manages to gloss over some rather important facts and rewrite some others. In other words he takes a rather neoliberal line which suggests that this is more a piece against the present WH group than the overall, continuous US hegemonic, nay, psychopathic preference for warfare: economic (sanctions) and military.

      The Chavez and Maduro governments have sought to improve the lives of the poorest peoples of Venezuela, and those peoples tend to be the indigenous, mestizo and of African (slave) origin. Healthcare, education, work – and much more direct democracy with regular referenda being held – which is certainly a problem for the comprador classes (largely of European descent), those who are Guaido supporters (in the main). Yes, neither Chavez nor Maduro were economic whizz kids and there likely was corruption at many levels of the economy. But I’d really like someone (on NPR or the BBC World Service e.g.) to point to a nation that is corruption free? Off hand I can’t think of any. And definitely not any in Latin America, especially when the right wing, whether military or not, have power.

      Moreover, both Chavez before and Maduro now were elected completely freely and fairly – as attested by large numbers of foreign observers (and Jimmy Carter). Guaido is not – despite the propaganda of NPR and the BBC – in anyway a legitimate replacement according to Venezuelan law, let alone international law.

      Armstrong also seems to be playing down and excusing the role of US secret agencies. As the Pomposity gleefully admitted and as any clear thinking person has known for their existence: agencies like the CIA, FBI, NSA and MI and all the rest LIE ALL THE TIME. It’s their stock in trade.

    • Acar Burak
      May 2, 2019 at 10:35

      Well said.

      But this part is more disturbing:

      “the U.S. position should focus on process – negotiations, compromise, institution-building – rather than foregone results such as the installation of someone like Guaidó.”

      US should have no position at all. I’m shocked to see such bullshit in Consortium News. Saddening.

  23. geeyp
    May 2, 2019 at 01:22

    How do these two people, Pompass and Stache, stomp around and shove their rantings down people’s throats without repercussions? OH, we allow it. Recall the incidents where Rand Paul and Tucker Carlson had attacks upon them at their place of residency. How did the perpetrators find their addresses? Does it ever happen to people like Pompass and Stache? Cowards.

    • john wilson
      May 2, 2019 at 06:14

      Yes, geeyp and even worse, neither of these two psychopaths has been elected including that indicted criminal, Abrames. It seems quite incredible to me that just a handful of men like this can start and prosecute wars that kill thousands of people and cause terrible suffering.

  24. peon d. rich
    May 2, 2019 at 01:04

    To suggest at the end that the ‘internal mess’ that characterizes the political situation in Venezuela yields only gray tones with no sharp distinctions regarding culpability displays the kind of failure of imperial liberalism that the intelligence arm of the empire does not escape: the inability to draw value differentiations of types. The Chavez and Maduro Bolivarian revolutionary (in context of the Monroe Doctrine and U.S. empire) governance clearly represents a honest attempt at popular and democratic policies, whereas the U.S. supported opposition regurgitates dead ideas of imperial political economy. To suggest that the sides are on even ground ideologically is dishonest or a lack of sufficient imagination and powers of judgment ability to recognize the distinct separation of the two along lines that have a great deal of practical consequence. The Bolivarian efforts represent a move in one direction, along with the multitude of obstacles that the U.S. exacerbates and creates whole-cloth; the opposition offers a return to the neo-colonial status of the country.

    • DW Bartoo
      May 2, 2019 at 03:52

      Superb comment, peon d. rich.

    • AnneR
      May 2, 2019 at 09:33

      Yes, and you have expressed this so much better than I, peon d.

      And of course, aside from US corporate greed for the oil (which we shouldn’t be using, anyway, but that’s another story) it is this very fact: the reality of what the Bolivarian revolution, way of governance does, exemplifies, demonstrates that sticks in the craw of the western – but particularly the US ones – ruling elites. There can be “no other way” than the one *we* demand: the corporate-capitalist-imperialist one, the one in which you, as the resource rich but clearly lesser country, do as you are told by *us.*

      I sincerely hope that the majority of the Venezuelans – the ordinary people, the workers, the poor, those the compradores spit on – stand by Maduro and their Bolivarian revolution.

      • Alex Cox
        May 2, 2019 at 11:24

        Excellent reply, peon.

        The article tells us nothing we didn’t know, and doesn’t really belong on Consortium News as the author takes a highly privileged, American-exceptionalist point of view… of course, a former intelligence agent, he would not be expected to have any serious knowledge. But his suggestion that a US military invasion of Venezuela would be easy (and that the Venezuelan brass would surrender) is not backed up by any reality. Panama was the site of a massive US military base, and was invaded from within.

        If the author knew more about Latin America (supposedly his specialty) he would know that most Latin Americans – even the peons – are pretty patriotic and are unlikely to fold as easily has he thinks.

  25. Jeff Harrison
    May 2, 2019 at 00:56

    The United States is becoming more blatant in its efforts to control the rest of the world. The mask is off now.There will be a price to pay.

    • DW Bartoo
      May 2, 2019 at 04:10

      The U$ian elite actually believe, it would seem, that no one would dare, alone or together with others, to hold the U$ to any account by whatever means.

      Whereas the U$ian many cannot conceivably imagine why anyone, anywhere, could possibly have any legitimate grievance toward this exceptional, indispensable, kindly and just nation.

      I consider that the “price” you very correctly suggest will have to be paid Jeff Harrison, will be an eye opener, if not an eye closer, for many. Any nation as ready, willing, and apparently happily able to resort to violence as has ours, may well come to realize the true and full impact of such violence only when it is actually experienced.

      Often, in life, the test comes first and the lesson afterwards …

    • john wilson
      May 2, 2019 at 06:16

      Yes, but who for?

      • DW Bartoo
        May 2, 2019 at 10:23

        Ultimately, in past times, John Wilson for Empires. As your own may, possibly, yet come to realize should there be world enough and time.

        This empire, the U$ian mega lump, has a capacity denied all prior iterations. That is, the means and possibly the intent, if sufficiently insane, or simply miffed, to ignite end times, for humanity, one way or another.

        Yet poetic justice, or cosmic justice may possibly allow for a collective, “Oh shit!” moment of comprehension in the “Homeland” before we fly off this mortal coil.

        There could be a further caution which those who believe in a heavenly afterlife of eternal duration might ponder. If the Earth may be made uninhabitable by humans, where shall a sky-dwelling deity find future recruits?

        One imagines an eternity of supreme displeasure might await those who figure Armageddon to be but a temporary cleansing, a brief interlude, a theatrical intermission before the next act on the same stage.

        And, doubtless, there will be those Boltoned to their righteousness who will happily rush into that dark void all aglow with certainty and energetic conviction.

  26. Tom Kath
    May 1, 2019 at 23:57

    I speak as a “World” citizen who knows as little about Venezuela as I do about USA, and I feel that the important issue here is the interference by a foreign force or power. In that context it is completely irrelevant how perfect or flawed Maduro is. Whilst it may be just as damaging to try to present him as perfect, I find it less than helpful to make thinly veiled allusions to his “shady” actions or policies under truly difficult sanctioned times.

    • AnneR
      May 2, 2019 at 09:40

      So true, Tom Kath. It is or should be irrelevant how the government is run, how the economy is run – to those not living in the specific country. It certainly should not be the business of other nations to decide who will be a president, a government in any other country. But the west has apparently taken it upon themselves to be the planet’s arbiters of who should govern and how.

      It is hard to believe that the Maybot and her government, Trudeau and his, or Trump and his admin (plus Congress) can actually look at themselves in the mirror and believe that their polities are well run, incorrupt, are concerned with the health and general well-being of all their citizens. Perhaps they do so believe, have so deluded themselves because it benefits them and their cronies in the corporate-capitalist and MIC boardrooms. (How?)

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