Old Habits Die Hard
America is back to its old interventionist habits in Central and South America. Perhaps this is just a natural outgrowth of US foreign policy since 9-11 of war and nonstop military expansion/base-building in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere.
But now, with its verbal assaults and aggressive economic moves, the Trump administration has kicked things up a notch and laid bare the ugly face of American-driven regime-change, although this policy has largely been adopted, albeit more quietly, by both political parties’ mainstream leaders since the early 2000s.
The GOP’s George W. Bush grimly led the country into Afghanistan and Iraq and the endless “War on Terror”, plus attempted an unsuccessful coup of Chavez in Venezuela; Obama and Hillary Clinton more quietly guided us into Libya and Syria, put sanctions on Venezuela, and continued Bush’s AFRICOM security push into Africa with a cluster of new bases on that continent.
So both parties are currently supportive of regime-change policies as used in various countries, and seem to agree on its general usage, as they seem to agree on Venezuela.
But America’s drive for regime-change actually began long ago.
There was a whole openly brazen period of “gunboat diplomacy” regime-change in the late 1800s and early decades of the 1900s, mostly in Central and South America.
Veteran Marine General Smedley Butler, who himself led some of those ventures, later confessed to his sins after his retirement:
“I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.”
“The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.”
Regime-Change Puts in Leaders Who Favor Us Interests over the Interests of a Country’s Own People
The point of regime-change is to leave a leader in place at the head of a country who will be favorable to American financial/economic interests. These consistently seem to involve a strict, ot even brutal dictator or authoritarian type to enforce such policies, since those polices inevitably enhance US profits by subtracting them from benefits to the citizens of that country.
Typically, the oligarch/dictator will be in a position to steer huge financial benefit$ to himself, family and and cronies.
Often, and usually deservedly, these figures have been seen as “puppets” of the US who must repress or murder their own people to keep the extra benefits expropriated from their country flowing to US companies and investors, and themselves.
Although their names will not be mentioned here, any quick research into the replacement figures installed in place of governments toppled by US regime-change, will reveal a long murderers row of infamous dictators with bloody records of service.
CIA Has Evolved More Subtle, State-Of-The-Art Interventions
Since the advent of the CIA in the late 1940s, our interventions have become more polished and covert, and too numerous to mention in quantity here.
Let’s do a quick historical review of a few standouts.
In 1953, the CIA working with British secret services toppled the democratically-elected President of Iran to prevent him from nationalizing oil profits and taking a slice out of the money made by foreign oil companies to divert to serving the people of that nation, as they voted for him to do.
In 1954, the CIA toppled the democratically-elected President of Guatemala, a leftist and moderate socialist.
In order to de-stabilize Chile and remove Salvador Allende (he was killed in the “revolution”), the elected socialist president, Nixon told Kissinger and the CIA, in 1970, to “make the economy scream”.
Among other disruptive activities, the CIA backed widespread trucking strikes, secretly supplied weapons to groups opposing Allende’s government, and even blew up rail lines to hinder distribution of necessary goods.
Allende served only 3 years before his ouster and murder in 1973, to be replaced by the US and Wall Street-friendly Augusto Pinochet, a mass-imprisoner, torturer and murderer of thousands of his own citizens, as all dissent was crushed.
The lively history of US intervention in Central and South America is chronicled in convdocs.com, just since 1945.
US Corporate-Media Push Regime-Change
Just as it did subtlety, but unmistakably, in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, US media widely mirrors implicit support for regime-change in Venezuela.
Three Things That Trigger US Interest in Regime-Change
Clearly, there are three criteria triggering US intervention in another sovereign country: 1. Election of a socialist government (as seen in examples above), 2. When a country moves towards using something other than the US Dollar or Petrodollar as their currency of exchange (Iraq, Libya, Iran, Venezuela), and 3. When a country has valuable resources, especially oil (all the above).
Poor Venezuela has hit the Trifecta because it meets all three requirements, including what is perhaps the largest oil reserves in the world, worth trillions.
Venezuela Has Been in US Crosshairs for Years
In addition to obvious US efforts in the early 2000s to oust the previous socialist president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, there is ample evidence implying covert actions to “make the economy scream” have been going on in Venezuela for years since then.
This has happened with the apparent covert cooperation of the wealthiest classes in Venezuela, who own and control food and paper products production and distribution -The 2 areas where shortages have been most painful and disruptive to the population, and damaging to President Maduro’s popular support.
Collusion (on the part of wealthy Venezuelan elites who favor US intervention) has been charged by some independent, non-corporate reporters.
Dropping oil prices and severe US sanctions, some going back from before Trump’s presidency (yes, Obama) have also taken a huge toll on Venezuela.
Now, Donald Trump, John Bolton and others in the administration and the GOP openly push for regime-change by brazenly supporting unelected Juan Guaido as President, a man 81% of Venezuelans themselves had never heard of before the announcement. He seemingly came out of nowhere.
Educated and indoctrinated in elite schools in the US, the charming, youthful Guaido with his picture-perfect wife and child, has “US Puppet” and future billionaire written all over him.
Democratic Party Silence Is Disappointing, but Not a Surprise
As all this goes on, what we get from all but 3 or 4 members of the Democratic Party is silence and a palpable sense of acquiescence.
And why not? The big money donors to both parties surely have the financial connections to profit, directly or indirectly, from the UN-Nationalization of Venezuela’s oil. They would make a big killing undoing the political work accomplished in the early 2000s by president Chavez, which would happen instantly, once President Maduro is toppled.
Financial elites, with all their massive lobbying clout over both parties, are clearly in favor of regime-change.
The desire to guide Venezuela by economics that lopsidedly benefit America has great resilience.
At the grassroots level, many Democratic Party voters are inclined to go-along with regime-change policy because that is what they saw during the Obama years, with few protestations.
What was objectionable during the GW Bush years has somehow slipped into the realm of quiet acceptance for many among the Democratic Party masses.
Increasingly, the anti-regime-change people are being seen as “peacenick-hippies”, and seem outnumbered.
So we have a loud and voracious war party in the GOP, with a shyly cooperative war party in the Democrats. This means there is no party to speak to the masses in America on behalf Venezuela’s people, many millions of whom do not support Guaido, even if Wall Street and US corporations do.
All we get on corporate media are standard reports on poor conditions in Venezuela, and how the people are suffering, etc., etc.
Odd how we get little or no reporting on the more catastrophic suffering in Yemen, in which America is involved, basically assisting a dictatorship in administering destruction to one of the world’s poorest countries.
But never mind that, says the corporate media. It is poor Venezuela who needs a savior.
Currently, not only does America have no significant “peace” party; America does not even have a significant “no regime-change” party.
For voters, where is the democratic choice in that?
Kudos for the profiles-in-courage-displaying Democratic Party congresspeople, Tulsi Gabbard, Ro Khanna, and Ilhan Omar, along with Senator Bernie Sanders, who have bravely spoken out, at least to some degree, against this policy in Venezuela.
Meanwhile, legions of other Democrats, including most Presidential hopefuls, remain silent on the issue.
But the two most outspoken figures really stand out.
“Regime Change Is Not The Answer”
“The United States needs to stay out of Venezuela. Let the Venezuelan people determine their future. We don’t want other countries to choose our leaders -so we have to stop trying to choose theirs.”
These would seem to be simple truths, and solidly in accordance with purported American values of democracy and fairness.
But America has long spoken with forked-tongue versus its behavior on issues of foreign intervention and changing regimes to its liking.
As it is now, Gabbard, Khanna and the few other dissenters are pushing against the bulk of their own Democratic Party, as well as facing backlash from expected quarters such as the GOP, conservatives and corporate-centrist-types in general.
What this means for those figures’ future ambitions is unclear, but it doesn’t help their career status with the corporate establishment, that is assured.
Meanwhile, the irony remains: Why is a Democratic Party so upset about alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election so nonchalant, apathetic and even enabling regarding wholesale government turnover in Venezuela? Couldn’t possibly be that oil, could it?
Both parties seem eerily in-sync on the issue, albeit with contrasting styles.
Same old same old.
D. Lockman is a retired English teacher and former part-time musician,
with a passion for politics that started before he was 10 years old.
He is honored to be informed by some of the leading progressive and
dissident voices to be found in independent media. He finds mainstream media to be insufficient at informing the active minds of
sincerely curious people in these noisy, tumultuous times.