7 April 2019 — Internationalist 360°
The military threat against Venezuela escalated in 2019 with Juan Guaidó’s self-proclamation. His leadership, manufactured in the corridors of the White House, is tarnished by frequent indications from various emissaries of the U.S. government, including President Donald Trump, that “all options are on the table”.
This allusion to the direct use of military force has been used as a form of intimidation until now. Irregular actions of destabilization have not eroded popular support for the government of Nicolás Maduro. On Thursday, Donald Trump’s delegate for Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, said: “It would be premature for the Venezuelan opposition to ask for an intervention because in Europe, Latin America and the United States we are not considering it”.
Why the U.S. Cannot Win Wars by Military Means
A glance at the results of the latest US military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, with considerable military expenditure involved, confirms the military failure of the Empire in its attempt to maintain dominance over vital commercial spaces and its privileged position, at a time when the centre of power is shifting towards Russia and China.
According to U.S. author Stephen B. Young, U.S. failures in war campaigns are due to the fact that it uses only the extremes of hard and soft power, namely military and financial siege operations to directly assault a country or covert “Arab spring” type actions.
Young argues that in national security policies “both hard and soft power are unilaterally applied”, so the burden of success (or failure) falls primarily on ourselves.
It is not that every point of conflict is only addressed by Americans, but rather, increasingly, Washington’s alliances with other political actors around the world are formed in terms of subordination and orders are dictated without prior consensus. When they fail in operations, they undermine the image of unipolar power that they project into culturally conquered countries, jeopardizing blind loyalties.
On most occasions, NATO member countries have obeyed US orders to attack countries in Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe, but on recent occasions, as in the approach to the siege of Iran, they have opted for diplomatic solutions.
In such circumstances, imitating this model in the Latin American region, taking advantage of the public backing of extreme right-wing factions that have installed themselves in previously progressive governments, is a reckless pursuit.
Eurasian position in the face of the decline of the Western threat
Once neoconservatives regained the main positions of power within the Trump administration, the lines drawn in the map of strategic objectives for the nation were settled with a simultaneous escalation of conflicts.
The official communiqués of taking violent paths in the China Sea, North Korea, Iran, Crimea and now Venezuela, have alternated in retaliation to the steps coordinated by Moscow and Beijing to build new ways of relating commercially with other regions.
Both Russia and China defend themselves against the multimensional siege of the United States with a strengthened national identity and respect for that which they build with other nations under their own codes, offering military and commercial relations under diplomatic agreements based on mutual approval. This abysmal difference only aggravates U.S. liberal hegemony.
Intervention in Venezuela: variables against, negative factors and costs
Against this unfavourable geopolitical backdrop for the United States, the military option is presented in Venezuela. The corporate media have contributed a great part of the analyses weighing the variables of a war in South American territory. They emphasize the massive rejection that this suggestion generated in international public opinion, even with the propagandized argument that Venezuela is experiencing a humanitarian crisis comparable to Yemen.
Neither the countries most obstinate when it comes to changing the Chavista government, nor the multilateral organizations, have any intention of publicly endorsing the allegation. Thus, Elliot Abrams himself, Washington’s special envoy for Venezuela, had to recalibrate the war discourse, denying the development of this scenario as the next immediate action.
However, the lack of global consensus or the evident diplomatic backing of the governments of China and Russia to Venezuela are not the only factors that impede the White House. In a January 2019 article published by The Guardian, an account was taken of previous open military interventions in Latin American countries. The most immediate references are the interventions in Grenada and Panama in 1983 and 1989, respectively, and then in Haiti in 1994.
In all cases, the United States embarked with a high probability of success because they were small countries with a much less relevant military preparation. Faced with these references, the report states that “Venezuela is not Grenada or Panama, the two Latin American countries invaded by the United States during the last days of the Cold War”, adding the clear differences with the Venezuelan military composition.
By reviewing only the statistical aspects, the country currently has greater military proximity to the Arab region than to Central American and Caribbean countries, even being placed in the global ranking of the Global Firepower website above Syria and Iraq, that defeated on the ground the mercenary groups of the Islamic State financed by the United States, in addition to forcing the withdrawal of its military forces installed there.
More worrisome is the fact that Colombia is located several positions below, since it is the only border candidate that has lent its territory and its soldiers in special operations to train and supervise terrorist cells that enter the country, unlike Brazil, a country with greater military proportions that, since the rise of Bolsonaro, reinforces the relations between the two countries.
In addition to the technological endowment of military armament, provided mainly through agreements with Russia, Venezuela has a strong civil-military union. The unsuccessful attempts to achieve significant defection from the Bolivarian National Armed Force (FANB) reveal that the United States is not overlooking this factor.
An opinion article by Shannon K. O’Neil, published by Bloomberg, explains that by estimating the size of Chavismo at 20 percent, “it is almost certain that these people would fight an unconventional campaign” in the event of a military intervention. A civilian attaché, organized in social and political movements, complements the 160,000 active FANB combatants would require the deployment of 150,000 regular U.S. troops.
The multinational operations which have been developed in the Latin American region are also no guarantee of any advantage. In recent years, the U.S. Southern Command has increased military exercises around Venezuela. Such is the case with “Trade Winds” (with the participation of Caribbean countries) and the ” United America Operation” (on the triple border of Brazil, Colombia and Peru) both developed in 2017 under the premise of handling disaster situations.
Despite this, the countries involved maintain their reticence to engage in armed conflict, as they do not feel militarily prepared to face a scenario similar to that of Iraq, recognizing that the campaign would last for years.
On the other hand, the effects of a massive wave of migration unleashed by an invasion is not neglected by Washington’s political leaders either, being so close to the point of conflict.
Taking into account the migration policies that the United States implemented against Venezuelan economic migrants between 2017 and 2018, denying them political asylum and in some cases deporting them, it is unlikely that in a hypothetical case of exodus they would be willing to provide logistical support to war refugees.
Other contradictions emerge. The Guardian warns that “If Syria is a point of reference, then supporting one million refugees will cost between $3 billion and $5 billion a year”. So far, less than $70 million has been disbursed to finance humanitarian aid.
It is precisely the management of all these variables that motivates Canada to emerge, alongside the pro-war discourse of the United States, to lead diplomatic actions that add support to Guaidó’s fictitious government in the region, compensating for the lack of drive that pushes for open confrontation.
The ineffectiveness of the soft coup methods (entrusted to local anti-Chávez figures) to engage with Venezuelan society in the destabilizing incursions of 2014 and 2017, stemmed from the anarchy and ungovernability that prevailed in areas where the government was at a disadvantage. The experience of those moments of extreme violence moved undecided sectors towards the proposals for a return to peace that the Venezuelan State was able to bring to the table.
That Juan Guaidó, the commercial face of foreign interference, now openly calls for military intervention, makes it difficult for non-conventional operations to catalyze the unrest produced by sabotage of basic services and transform it into violent protests that obscure the infiltration of illegal armed groups, emulating previous colour revolutions.
Translation by Internationalist 360°