by Pepe Escobar (cross-posted with Strategic Culture Foundation by special agreement with the author)
Cold War 2.0 has hit South America with a bang – pitting the US and expected minions against the four key pillars of in-progress Eurasia integration: Russia, China, Iran and Turkey.
It’s the oil, stupid. But there’s way more than meets the (oily) eye.
Caracas has committed the ultimate cardinal sin in the eyes of Exceptionalistan; oil trading bypassing the US dollar or US-controlled exchanges.
Remember Iraq. Remember Libya. Yet Iran is also doing it. Turkey is doing it. Russia is – partially – on the way. And China will eventually trade all its energy in petroyuan.
With Venezuela adopting the petro crypto-currency and the sovereign bolivar, already last year the Trump administration had sanctioned Caracas off the international financial system.
No wonder Caracas is supported by China, Russia and Iran. They are the real hardcore troika – not psycho-killer John Bolton’s cartoonish “troika of tyranny” – fighting against the Trump administration’s energy dominance strategy, which consists essentially in aiming at the total lock down of oil trading in petrodollars, forever.
Venezuela is a key cog in the machine. Psycho killer Bolton admitted it on the record; “It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela.” It’s not a matter of just letting ExxonMobil take over Venezuela’s massive oil reserves – the largest on the planet. The key is to monopolize their exploitation in US dollars, benefitting a few Big Oil billionaires.
Once again, the curse of natural resources is in play. Venezuela must not be allowed to profit from its wealth on its own terms; thus, Exceptionalistan has ruled that the Venezuelan state must be shattered.
In the end, this is all about economic war. Cue to the US Treasury Department imposing new sanctions on PDVSA that amount to a de facto oil embargo against Venezuela.
Economic war redux
By now it’s firmly established what happened in Caracas was not a color revolution but an old-school US-promoted regime change coup using local comprador elites, installing as “interim president” an unknown quantity, Juan Guaido, with his Obama choirboy looks masking extreme right-wing credentials.
Everyone remembers “Assad must go”. The first stage in the Syrian color revolution was the instigation of civil war, followed by a war by proxy via multinational jihadi mercenaries. As Thierry Meyssan has noted, the role of the Arab League then is performed by the OAS now. And the role of Friends of Syria – now lying in the dustbin of history – is now performed by the Lima group, the club of Washington’s vassals. Instead of al-Nusra “moderate rebels”, we may have Colombian – or assorted Emirati-trained – “moderate rebel” mercenaries.
Contrary to Western corporate media fake news, the latest elections in Venezuela were absolutely legitimate. There was no way to tamper with the made in Taiwan electronic voting machines. The ruling Socialist Party got 70 percent of the votes; the opposition, with many parties boycotting it, got 30 percent. A serious delegation of the Latin American Council of Electoral Experts (CEELA) was adamant; the election reflected “peacefully and without problems, the will of Venezuelan citizens”.
The American embargo may be vicious. In parallel, Maduro’s government may have been supremely incompetent in not diversifying the economy and investing in food self-sufficiency. Major food importers, speculating like there’s no tomorrow, are making a killing. Still, reliable sources in Caracas tell that the barrios – the popular neighborhoods – remain largely peaceful.
In a country where a full tank of gas still costs less than a can of Coke, there’s no question the chronic shortages of food and medicines in local clinics have forced at least two million people to leave Venezuela. But the key enforcing factor is the US embargo.
The UN rapporteur to Venezuela, expert on international law, and former secretary of the UN Human Rights Council, Alfred de Zayas, goes straight to the point; much more than engaging in the proverbial demonization of Maduro, Washington is waging “economic war” against a whole nation.
It’s enlightening to see how the “Venezuelan people” see the charade. In a poll conducted by Hinterlaces even before the Trump administration coup/regime change wet dream, 86% of Venezuelans said they were against any sort of US intervention, military or not,
And 81% of Venezuelans said they were against US sanctions. So much for “benign” foreign interference on behalf of “democracy” and “human rights”.
The Russia-China factor
Analyses by informed observers such as Eva Golinger and most of all, the Mision Verdad collective are extremely helpful. What’s certain, in true Empire of Chaos mode, is that the American playbook, beyond the embargo and sabotage, is to foment civil war.
Dodgy “armed groups” have been active in the Caracas barrios, acting in the dead of night and amplifying “social unrest” on social media. Still, Guaido holds absolutely no power inside the country. His only chance of success is if he manages to install a parallel government – cashing in on the oil revenue and having Washington arrest government members on trumped-up charges.
Irrespective of neocon wet dreams, adults at the Pentagon should know that an invasion of Venezuela may indeed metastasize into a tropical Vietnam quagmire. The Brazilian strongman in waiting, vice-president and retired general Hamilton Mourao, already said there will be no military intervention.
Psycho killer Bolton’s by now infamous notepad stunt about “5,000 troops to Colombia”, is a joke; these would have no chance against the arguably 15,000 Cubans who are in charge of security for the Maduro government; Cubans have demonstrated historically they are not in the business of handing over power.
It all comes back to what China and Russia may do. China is Venezuela’s largest creditor. Maduro was received by Xi Jinping last year in Beijing, getting an extra $5 billion in loans and signing at least 20 bilateral agreements.
President Putin offered his full support to Maduro over the phone, diplomatically stressing that “destructive interference from abroad blatantly violates basic norms of international law.”
By January 2016, oil was as low as $35 a barrel; a disaster to Venezuela’s coffers. Maduro then decided to transfer 49.9% of the state ownership in PDVSA’s US subsidiary, Citgo, to Russian Rosneft for a mere $1.5 billion loan. This had to send a wave of red lights across the Beltway; those “evil” Russians were now part owners of Venezuela’s prime asset.
Late last year, still in need of more funds, Maduro opened gold mining in Venezuela to Russian mining companies. And there’s more; nickel, diamonds, iron ore, aluminum, bauxite, all coveted by Russia, China – and the US. As for $1.3 billion of Venezuela’s own gold, forget about repatriating it from the Bank of England.
And then, last December, came the straw that broke the Deep State’s back; the friendship flight of two Russian nuclear-capable Tu-160 bombers. How dare they? In our own backyard?
The Trump administration’s energy masterplan may be indeed to annex Venezuela to a parallel “North American-South American Petroleum Exporting Countries” (NASAPEC) cartel, capable of rivaling the OPEC+ love story between Russia and the House of Saud.
But even if that came to fruition, and adding a possible, joint US-Qatar LNG alliance, there’s no guarantee that would be enough to assure petrodollar – and petrogas – preeminence in the long run.
Eurasia energy integration will mostly bypass the petrodollar; this is at the very heart of both the BRICS and SCO strategy. From Nord Stream 2 to Turk Stream, Russia is locking down a long-term energy partnership with Europe. And petroyuan dominance is just a matter of time. Moscow knows it. Tehran knows it. Ankara knows it. Riyadh knows it.
So what about plan B, neocons? Ready for your tropical Vietnam?
Approximately sixty years ago, Standard Oil had a good control over Venezuelan oil reserves, and through them, the oil flowed into the US. On that note, the oil was shipped across the Atlantic to be refined in Norway, after a deal between Esso and the Norwegian government at the time (breaching regular Norwegian rules of Commerce in the fifties) – well ten years before Esso discovered oil in the Norwegian sea. Chavez did the preposterous notion of taking control of said reserves, and thus getting the ire of the entire US administration PLUS their greatest companies.
“So what about plan B, neocons? Ready for your tropical Vietnam?”
Yes, they are. They all need to win at this gambit. It is their “destiny”, based on their dogma (the Monroe Doctrine).
It is based in their culture–hegemony. The Hegemon must rule over all things–oil, Hemisphere, ideology (democracy).
It is their greed. They no longer care about competing. They simply will steal what they seek.
And the domestic political game of holding Executive power (where the Deep State and MIC live) requires a triumph that helps in 2020 and 2024. Beating Maduro is sufficient. A “win” for the USA.
Forging a proxy uprising, creating chaos and civil war are the tactics.
Bolton-Pompeo-Rubio are powerful forces to press this to warfare.
They are true believers, Russophobes and Sinophobes.
They are hooked on their ideology and fears, as deeply addicted as a meth fiend or heroin addict.
It will go forward and get bloody. They welcome their tropical Vietnam. This time they think they can win, not only in Venezuela, but in Nicaragua and Cuba.
Like a suppressed cancer that is making a comeback, this one is raging and virulent and will become purposely wild and deadly. The question may be: who does it kill? After all, a cancer dies when the carrier dies.
We may see a war like the US/NATO waged against Serbia. Aerial bombardment of the military until Maduro has to flee or die. This is how Bolton thinks. He’s blood-thirsty and callous and would recommend such a strategy.
The calmer voices think a strategy is to negotiate an outcome that could remove Russian and Chinese support by guaranteeing their economic stakes will be paid.
However, there are geopolitical stakes in Latin America. Russia and China would be out of the Hemisphere forever if they “make a deal”. That does not seem logical at this time.
More likely would be for Russia and China to hold firm and, if the lunatics in charge of US policy opt for armed conflict with the Venezuelans, to let them bog themselves down in another Vietnam. There are thousands of friends of Venezuela in the other Latin American countries who will join the fight. Yankee-hatred is deep and wide, and waging war in Venezuela will set off old vendettas against CIA and State Dept. operatives. The US will suffer losses it does not imagine will occur.
Ideology, maybe, fears, perhaps if they’re related to potential and no doubt studied threats to the financial elite and the well-being of their constituents. I find it challenging to accept that as much as I may find some of the political representatives repulsive, if not all that type so far as my living experience, that they react to situations not out of shrewdness, but on irrational emotional impulses. Ignorance, perhaps, if you think of the political classes inability to defy conventionality except when their backs are against the wall and there is absolutely no alternative. Sometimes as much as I admire Putin, I would put him and other current heros in that league, because given a change in circumstances, I can see how that might go all “evil” just as easily. They do seem stuck on a petro driven economy and global system no matter how destructive that system is to the environment alone.
Could there exist alternate ways of running the american economy without affecting the life style of the us civilization, its checks and balances that preserve at least some semblance of order no matter how offensive one might make of those? Poverty, the prison industrial complex and so forth? I wouldn’t know, but for Bolton, Rubio, and co. It would certainly appear too wild a ride into the unknown, a kind of pandemonium, or at worst something they’ve examined the consequences of in detail and those are completly unacceptable.
Plenty of truth in what you wrote. However, an aerial bombardment of Venezuela ? Not impossible, but highly unlikely, as repercussions for the US on the international stage would be tremendous. Who would believe the silly excuses presented by the US ?
The US backed Guaido, followed by EU countries such as the UK, France, Germany and Sweden. The damage has already been done. The US proved it’s an imperial power, to whom international law means nothing. The EU countries who backed the US proved to what extent they are influenced (controlled) by the US, making the existence of the EU pointless, as it’s a European institution only in name, but in reality a civilian component of NATO.
As analyst Dmitry Orlov has stated, the US elite need to plunder other countries to postpone a financial crash, as the huge foreign and domestic debt cannot be repayed, only postponed. However, can it be postponed indefinately ?
US doesn’t care about making excuses for their actions anymore,,
Obama was no different from Trump, but he was a much better confidence-man and accomplished liar. Like all true psychopaths, he did not give himself away with body language as he lied his face off.
The US grabbing Venezuela will help to lay the foundation for an even bigger wave of alliance of peoples revolution against the US Empire of Hypocrisy. The more neoliberal economics, the more plowing and plundering, the more oppression, the bigger the fertile ground for that coming worldwide resistance that will overwhelm and neutralize the US fascist rogue state.
Methingks it is essential for the Venezuelan drama to be steered wisely by themselves that the Venezuelan govenrment find some sections — and intice them — who could find it to their profit to break the US-Anglo-Atlantisist blocade. Try to bribe Norway’s Statoil(now: Yara) oil/energy giant and likewise finnish nicle miners or NW Europe’s fruit and goodies importers to get interested.
Statoil is called Equinor now. Norway is fully controlled.
”Psycho killer Bolton’s by now infamous notepad stunt about ’5,000 troops to Colombia’, is a joke; these would have no chance against the arguably 15,000 Cubans who are in charge of security for the Maduro government; Cubans have demonstrated historically they are not in the business of handing over power.”
Absolutely brilliant rendition of the Cuban spirit; hats off! As regards Dolton’s fantasy-prone garbage, he would have appeared less ridiculous had he at least alluded to a counter-revolutionary Colombian force, mind you. Sending his own kith and kin down there won’t do the trick, but try explain that to a piece of Exceptional and Indispensable offal, LOL.
”Caracas has committed the ultimate cardinal sin in the eyes of Exceptionalistan; oil trading bypassing the US dollar or US-controlled exchanges.”
Right. In Zionazi parlance, that would qualify as an ’illegal annexation of Caribbean oil fields’ on the part of Venezuela, duly personified by the country’s elected leader.
”Remember Iraq. Remember Libya. Yet Iran is also doing it. Turkey is doing it. Russia is – partially – on the way. And China will eventually trade all its energy in petroyuan.”
Don’t worry. Dolton’s invincible Pindos will never allow any leeway to whatever adversaries trying to raise their ugly heads.
The US needs Venezuelan oil for profit, as well as to ensure it’s sold in US dollars. It tried a coup d’etat, which failed. It’s now playing the democracy game, trying to overthrow “dictator” Maduro by backing Guaido, who until recently was a non entity. The most hilarious aspect of this whole affair are attempts to prove that socialism does not work, and that only private enterprise will solve Venezuelas problems. In other words, Venezuelans are being asked to hand over their oil reserves to private US corporations and return the country to the pre-Chavez years, when you had no free education and health care. The bulk of the population, of course, is against it, as it does not wish to see the country ruled by a plundering elite. We shall see how far the US will go.
They need oil,fracked condensate is not oil even if they call it such.
It has to be mixed with real oil,the heavier the better,to be a usable product.
War in the tropics? Why not?
WE AMERICANS THRIVE ON WAR!
It isn’t just the MIC that loves war. Those profits are what drives what is left of the American drive for hegemony. The American people have a violent and vicious streak. Don’t believe me? They just celebrated their Super Bowl (or is that ‘Stupid’ Bowl) and as a paean to viciousness there is no better marker than that. And what about the bringing of European (Middle Age and Renaissance) violence across the Atlantic? Weren’t here long on the western edge of that ocean before they started murdering the indigenous. Haven’t stopped killing since … and not likely to.
So long as we use proxies the American people LOVE war, especially against the less than human bits of humanity. If you are brown, or black or (heaven forbid) indigenous the American doesn’t care who is in the gun sights.
I hope that the Venezuelans kick the ‘F’ out of the US … just as the folks in Vietnam did.
”The American people have a violent and vicious streak. Don’t believe me?”
Very true. On this basis, it’s irresistibly tempting asking which one is the most upsetting conclusion — in the eyes of US Americans — about the 911 fireworks:
a) Having been outsmarted by a bunch of non-Exceptional, dispensable Untermenschen
b) Having been set ablaze by their own beloved Deep State for good measure
As long as they get their profitable violent and vicious streak, they don’t care.
Merkans don’t love ‘war’. They love killing, the more the better. A fair fight, with enemies that can fight back and kill the Exceptionals (if only the underclass that constitute US forces these days)they do not like so much. The Israelis are just the same-how they hate Hezbollah for kicking their backsides more than once. Hence the Dahiya Doctrine of vengeful mass murder and destruction.
They’ll have to bring back the draft . . .
And build Donald Trump’s wall. Cannot let those draft dodgers escape to Mexico.
The reality is that Maduro is the moderate. Venezuela is a mixed bag of progressive policies that benefit the poor and the middle class – but also a state where the local elite are allowed to keep all their oligarchial benefits. This is why Gweedo has NO support.
Any invasion or attack on Venezuela would break the internal balance and push the left revolutionaries right over the edge. The Venezuelian elite are fearful of this because now the zionists are after them – just like in Serbia, Iraq and Syria. The empire of chaos is just chaos and that is bad for business.
A mix of military nationalists and leftist guerilla movements with no moderating Maduro would make Iraq look like Grenade for any invading US forces.
As for the other right wing leaders like Bolsonaro of Brasil they have already back off any commitment to a future coalition of the willing. As for Colombia’s mercs – not much has to be said after their experience in Yemen.
This is either a total bluff by the zionists or Trump running the empire into the ground.
What puzzles me most is the pathetic, ludicrous, imbecilic stunt of declaring Guaido ”legitimate President”. Is it just uncontrollable, narcissistic rage or is it a way to gauge the servility of the Empire’s vassal states? Total bluff indeed, whichever way one looks at it.
If you don’t “Harrumph” loud enough you’ll get slapped with economic sanctions, or worse…
We got things figured out as to who`s doing what, and why,i n the world; the question is, what t`do about it in light of the fact the USA is verifiably insane (for what ever reason, cuz their not inbreed) and the Royalty in Europe is also insane.
We got bigger problem comin round the bend: The governments will control the news and “free speech”,not by legislating it themselves, but by tricking the social media platforms to do it for them. ie. what is hate speech ;what is false news?
Russia and China should follow the Send Lawyers, Guns and Money strategy.
Lawyers, at least within international bodies, trying to uphold international law. Lawyers won’t be a lot of use directly against the US coup. Such fascist forces always set the law as Might Makes Right. That’s where the Guns and Money come in.
The Saker presented a tactical overview assessment of the state of the Venezuelan military in a article published in the Unz Review website. See: http://www.unz.com/tsaker/the-us-aggression-against-venezuela-as-a-diagnostic-tool/ .
President Maduro may be toppled and replaced by another U.S. servile puppet in the person of Juan Guido to further Washington DC’s foreign policy of regime change. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_involvement_in_regime_change
Did Russia intervene in Syria solely to prevent President Assad from being deposed or to eliminate the U.S., Turkey, Israel supported terrorist proxies? I do not believe it was just that as Russian businesses have a significant investment in Syrian petroleum development. If the U.S. was able to successfully execute a putsch in Syria, it would have disrupted Russian business interests and loss of future oil revenues. The motivation to move military assets into Syria and help the Syrian army remove the terrorists had an an economic agenda as well.
Russia has also entered into cooperative agreements with Venezuela to invest billions in developing the country’s petroleum and mining resources.
So here’s the rub. Why wouldn’t Russia give as much support to the Maduro administration as it did to President Assad? I understand the logistical support challenges for the Russian Military (e.g., geographical distance Russia vis-à-vis Venezuela). But the opportunity for wealth appreciation is a huge factor and therefore we cannot discount that as it is an economic fact of reality.
On January 29th, Russian Federation Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated, “Together with other responsible members of the world community, we will do everything to support the legal government of President Maduro in standing up for the Venezuelan Constitution,”. See: http://tass.com/politics/1042235
“Do everything” in Russia-speak means what it says. I understand it to have the same impact as when President Trump stated that U.S. Military intervention in Venezuela is being considered as an option. The question in my mind is, will Russia back down, let Maduro be overthrown and lose all the investment potential in Venezuela and possibly other countries on the continent of South America?
As a side question, where is China in all of this since they are a major creditor of Venezuela?
Thanks for this good article.
I posted this earlier in other comment section and I feel it is relevant for completing the whole picture.
Does anybody remember help from Venezuela?
Where are voices of those muricans who benefited? And why Manduro doesn’t mention it to the benefit of his country? We helped you in need and you are paying us back with threads.
Venezuela Donated Free Heating Oil to 100,000 Needy US Households, 2005-2013
Same as September 24, 1863 Russian Navy help that helped to form USA to what it is now.
All forgotten and repaid by hostilities.
Thank you ‘Pepe’ Escobar for your quite explicit ( and therein so needed ) comentary regarding this ongoing, unfolding tragedy, in Venezuela. The Bolivarian Revolution, as with Cuba to name two, are pieces of art continuously forming and…deserve every respect that we can dream. These two countries represent templates for ( I believe ) seriously direct affirmation. I think Mr. Escobar is correct, let’s cut to the chase and eliminate excess complexity. Sincerely!
With masterminds and superlative intellects like Bolton, Pompeo and Abrams running things, I’m sure this will all go swimmingly. Another rip roaring Neocon success story is on the way, to join Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Ukraine and Yemen.
For the moment…..I’m still sticking to my Teflon Don hypothesis:
The Neocon Imperialist racists are allowed to organize a Hemispheric KKK style lynching party…..and end up hanging themselves.
Teflon Don skates away on the oil slick.
I truly believe the Central American caravans were organized and sent north to California border so that we could have prime TV footage of Donald Trump’s troops shooting defenseless, brown, mothers and children. What a great way to get the Hispanic vote out for Donald Tramp’s (I love the Russian spelling) opponents.
Similarly, a war started in Venezuela is likely to have a negative effect long term against Republican chances of courting the Hispanic vote. I can’t imagine a better tar baby than this.
Street graffiti in Novi Sad. Support from Serbia!
In the American-exceptional mindset “kicking their ass and taking their gas” is an expression of global eminent domain.
Brilliant Article by Pepe.
I think empire will fight till death for petro-dollar system. Empire knows very well that their economic survival is for the dominance of dollar. So, they will fight even if they have to use neclear weapons.
I keep asking this question but I never getting a reply; Since the evil empire is set on mass destruction and death why would China and Russia not ‘let them have it’ now? A preemptive nuclear strike is on the psychopaths of the Washington regime, under the circumstances, is an eminently reasonable act.
Either strike directly or provide nuclear weapons to… lets say Venezuela, Cuba and ideally, Palestine, for a start.
If there is fear that they will use them for simple revenge, which I feel is now fully their right, to appease the squeamish, Russia /China could keep the launch codes and hand them over if the US misbehaves, and if the new nuclear powers are existentially threatened,
It looks like the US cannot be redeemed but must be destroyed. At this point, new civiliazations would probably arise from non Anglo-Zionist stock if a full nuclear exchange ocurred. I think Russian Siberia and Peyotic cultures of Latin America would have enough people left to begin the human race all over again.
And with the Anglo-Zionists cleansed, humanity would have a far better chance of survival than it has now.
Waiting for the US to produce evan more nukes in an arms race would make the above solution far less likely to succeed.
Wouldn’t that shut up Yosemite Sam Bolton’s mouth? And would that blessed silence not be worth a nuclear WW3?
Shutting up one annoying neocon (who will likely be gone in less than two years anyway) is worth nuclear WW III?
I think you’ve answered your own question.
Don’t be silly, or suicidal, please.
The Clown act has little to do with Imperial Designs or actions, friend.
Successful Strategy is almost always indirect. Seen this way, long term Imperial Fortunes do not favor Empire.
ie it’s losing…
Given Brazil’s straddling of being both a member of BRICS and an ally of the US in its illegal coup against Maduro, what will be its role in the immediate future?
It’s the coltan not the oil. Niobium and tantalum are extracted from it and Venezuela has discovered the second largest deposit in the world (Congo is 1st).
Add to that 100 billion in gold, oil and all the other minerals and it is not just the oil.
Pretty sure that Vietnam is in the tropics, so we already had a “Tropical Vietnam War.” What will make this war distinctive, if American GI’s do hit the beaches in Maracaibo, is as a Latin Vietnam. Or, call it a “Neotropical Vietnam” if you must.
The ultimate excitement to parallel the first Vietnam experience will be when the Unified Latin American Army corners the yanks in DC as the NVA did in Saigon. Rather than helicopters fleeing rooftops for aircraft carriers, it will be Musk-built space rockets carrying the hardcore Neocons off to Mars to regroup. Let’s see how long it will take for them to build up and then destroy another world.
Just a thought I would like to see comments on…and apologies in advance as I really have no qualifications to comment on this matter…
First, thank you Pepe (and Saker) for the many lucid arguments and analysies of our current (insane) times. In regards Venezuela and Chinese investments I have wondered at a comment I saw in a Saker piece where he said something to the effect “China and Russia will not drop money down a bottomless pit, even to defend their (substantial) investments.
Seems to me that a good use of China’s large holdings of US treasury bonds might be exactly the needed boost to helping Venezuela stabilize, i.e.: feed the population. China must realize that these pieces of paper (soon to be worthless, as most now accept) might actually be able to do some good before the (so many say) innevitable crash of the US$.