By Franco Vielma
Legal issues about Obama’s decree declaring Venezuela an “unusual and extraordinary threat” are expressions of purest imperial colonialism that has characterized the USA foreign policy.
Following the usual practice of old (and decaying) empires, Barack Obama has sent for Congressional approval a legal decree – as if this were a matter of domestic policy – declaring Venezuela to be a threat to the internal security of the USA. This sustains a line of legal actions presuming to pass judgement upon Venezuela, such as the Law for the Protection of Human Rights and Civil Society put forward by Robert Menéndez and approved by the US Congress with the support of Marco Rubio and Ileana Ross-Lehtinen, two of the stalwart lobbyists for fascism in Latin America
In order to “enforce” the aforementioned Law Decree 2014, Obama lashes against Venezuela, refashioning decrees that were undertaken initially in quite different circumstances, such as those of Syria. One of these was the famous Alliance Against Terrorism Fund, proposed by Obama in a foreign policy speech delivered in June 2014 at West Point. On that occasion he asked Congress to dedicate one and one half billion dollars for a “Regional Stabilization Initiative” for the Middle East, which would provide resources to the “Syrian opposition” who “were fighting against the tyranny of al-Assad.
By designating Venezuela as a “threat” which constitutes an” imminent danger” for the security of the region and, therefore, the United States, Obama, framing his discourse in terms of fourth generation warfare, claims to see a “visible enemy” and a “credible threat.” This is a formulation favoured by the US government as it seeks public backing for its actions.
The anti-Venezuela campaign, with its demonizing manipulation of US and world public opinion, has reached this extremity: the criminalization of the country, the declaration that it is a menace, a matter of “maximum national security” for the US, warranting other actions the US will surely take.
Why an emergency decree?
Within the parameters of international law and US legislation, an emergency decree issued by the executive is in effect a blank cheque which allows the executive to do whatever it wants in order to eliminate the danger which supposedly prompted the decree. In the normal, day-to-day conduct of foreign policy, executive decisions are always subject to the approval of Congress; this is not the case in an “emergency” which requires “immediate action.”
An example of this type of legislation was a law signed by Obama in September of 2014 which authorized the Pentagon to train and arm Syrian rebels “in the battle against the Islamic State” which was understood as well to be an attempt to overthrow the government of Bashar al-Assad, who was also considered a “threat” for the United States. The financial framework for this decision is to be found in a Decree Law of 2011, by which Congress authorized Obama to act in the interests of preserving “peace in the Middle East” at a time when the situation in Syria was beginning to heat up while Libya was already in flames. This law was part of the so-called “Comprehensive Security Plan for the Middle East, which is in essence a US strategy of securing political stability in energy-rich regions, overthrowing “authoritarian regimes” and pursuing the “War Against Terror.”
Thomas Sparrow, BBC correspondent in Washington, asserted the following: “When the President signs an executive order declaring that a state of emergency exists, he obtains some special powers that allow him, for example, to impose sanctions or freeze certain assets”. The US government acknowledges that it has between twenty and thirty such sanctions programs that are based on similar emergency declarations and framed in language similar to that employed with respect to Venezuela. In recent years the US has declared a state of emergency in several countries, including Ukraine, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Yemen, Libya and Somalia; countries with which Washington has or had bad relationships.
In Libya and Syria sanctions began against officials of those governments and relatives of Gaddafi and Assad, respectively. But sanctions tend to be progressive and they are maintained until the intervention has achieved its objectives. Initial sanctions are usually followed by new sanctions which are implemented to “consolidate the goals outlined in the initial sanctions.” The sanction regime often evolves into a full-fledged economic and military embargo, making way for new legal action in which the United States openly supports paramilitary and mercenary groups , which generated (and still generate) protracted civil conflicts in these countries.
The issue of “human rights” is raised in an attempt to justify actions against Venezuela, as it was used previously to justify the “humanitarian bombing” of Libya and the arming of al Nusra, the al- Qaeda branch in Syria, who were attacking the government of Bashar al-Assad.
What is the most “viable” scenario in Venezuela?
Differences between Venezuela, Syria and Libya are huge, but one factor is always the same: the warmongering of Americans who for two hundred years have developed and refined every type of recipe for open and covert wars to produce what they euphemistically call “regime change”. The US legislation provides that the executive cannot request authorization from Congress for an open intervention unless there is a formal “declaration of war or intervention.” We can therefore rule out the possibility of an invasion of Venezuela by regular US military forces. The regional consensus which would validate such an action does not exist: Venezuela is not alone.
What we may see in the case of Venezuela are new unilateral diplomatic and economic sanctions, not directed only at individual officials, but extended to the entire economic and political spectrum in an attempt to cause Venezuela’s economy and institutions to implode. US sanctions tend to be “progrssive”: when sanctions against officials do not produce the desired “regime change” they are dismissed as “ineffective” and are followed by new, more severe sanctions until the total asphyxiation of the nation and the consequent “regime change” come to pass.
Another likely development would be the adaptation to Venezuela of the strategy employed with respect to Syria:; the generation of a prolonged and violent civil conflict to achieve “regime change”. This has in fact already begun, the guarimbero-paramilitary low intensity conflict started in 2014. The precedent for this kind of intervention is the camouflaged war against the Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua, carried on by the “Contra” paramilitaries in the 1980s.
It would only be under the conditions of a fratricidal war in Venezuela, that the US would be able to raise its intervention to a higher level, justifying any action in order to “preserve regional peace.”
In order to achieve an outright confrontation, the US might even approve decree-laws that allow the White House to act in favor of the Venezuelan counterrevolution, supporting the Venezuelan fascism, as it has done with the Salafist forces who are trying to take Damascus. Because of the permeability of the Venezuelan-columbian border, paramilitaries have already infiltrated Venezuela, producing a situation favourable to mercenary activities. Likely the US are already seriously considering some provocation which would trigger a large-scale conflict. Unfortunately, for peaceful Venezuela and Latin America, all of the journalist, economic, political and military indicators point towards such an eventuality.
Political factors that would promote an intervention in Venezuela are moving towards a climactic point, both inside and outside of Venezuela. International factors could have a considerable influence on the style and strategy of imperial behaviour
The domestic political scene in Venezuela begins to change. Since 2014, Democratic senators warned that sanctions against Venezuela would be “counterproductive” to the Venezuelan opposition, resulting in numerous delays in the implementation of sanctions. But this has changed. The Venezuelan right lost even more its already slender political ground in an electoral year, prompting the US State Department throw the Venezuelan opposition leadership under the bus, knowing that 90% of the Venezuelan population (according to Hinterlaces’s study published in early March 2015) rejects US intervention.
We must ask ourselves, would it be logical to believe that the US intelligence have overlooked this detail? That would be absurd. So, why has the White House decided to destroy the political base of the Venezuelan opposition? The answer should be obvious: it no longer believes the electoral-democratic scenario is a “viable” way to produce a change of government in Venezuela.
What they might be considering – and it is very likely that this is – is the camouflaged US intervention in Venezuela, ushering in a period of a prolonged civil conflict. If such an approach in Venezuela has support or not is irrelevant. Surveys in Iraq in 2003 showed that 87% of the Iraqi population (including opponents of Saddam Hussein) rejected US intervention, yet it was executed, under the cover of various pretexts. The second most important – after of the alleged weapons of mass destruction – was “the release of a subject people.” So if the Venezuelan opposition population begins to reject the US intervention, as the chavistas have done for 15 years, it will be irrelevant; the “restoration of democracy” in Venezuela as an excuse is no longer in the hands of the opposition, is in the hands of Obama.
United States has crossed the threshold of the open intervention against the Bolivarian Revolution, or in the words of President Nicolas Maduro: “Obama has personally undertaken the task of intervening Venezuela and overthrow me”. The decisive hour has arrived.