AS THE SUN SETS SLOWLY IN THE WEST

Postcards from Ecotopia

old new lefty

old new lefty
Location
alienation, discontent
Birthday
September 16
Title
CEO
Company
Making trouble whenever possible
Bio
virgin novelist, middle school teacher for the morally handicapped, government bureaucrat, most famous unknown photographer in LA, PhD dropout, coat hanger sorter, presidential campaign worker, sewer worker, and retired guy -- but not in that order.

Old new lefty's Links

MY LINKS
No links in this category.
JANUARY 19, 2013 11:52PM

Hugo Chavez & the Good Old American Three Card Monte Game

Rate: 7 Flag

hugo

Admit it.  Hugo Chavez is almost toast.  It's only a matter of time before he resides in that old Bolivarian pantheon in the sky.  And the press is doing a fairly good job of reporting on what can be gleaned from the secret meetings that Chavez's family and supporters are having in Havana.

But like Sherlock Holmes' The Dog That Didn't Bark, there are volumes of material that cannot and will not be covered by the mass media. The biggest dogs are the dynamics of Latin American politics, particularly as they relate to the American national security state.  The forces shaping our relations with our neighbors to the South goes back hundreds of years -- and it isn't pretty.

In the 1840s the principle of Manifest Destiny was put forward.  It didn't just apply to the Lower 48.  America back then wanted the entire hemisphere under the control of Uncle Sam.  And despite the fact that there have numerous iterations and remixes on this theme, it still holds true, particularly with regards to economics.

One nexus  of imperialism is the old School of the Americas in  Fort Benning, Georgia.  Bill Clinton got it renamed WINSEC due to lefty pressure, but its job is still the same.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, I strongly suggest that you rent a copy of the movie State of Seige.  Yes. 'Merka is still an imperialist -- big time. We train the elites to commit terrorism for fun and profit on their territory, so they can take control.

You need look no further than Honduras. Honduras is most instructive. Manuel Zelaya, the democratically elected President of Honduras was overthrown by a military coup in 2009.  At first, Hillary Clinton expressed disapproval of this abrogation of the electoral process,(as did the rest of the world), but she quickly got with the program.

How could this happen in Honduras (or Venezuela for that matter)? For that, we not only have to look at the graduates of WINSEC at Fort Benning.  But we also have to look at the lower and mid level career bureaucrats and military in the US Embassy in Caracas and their ties with their political and bureaucratic networks.

The thing you have to know about these mid-level guys is that they have a high degree of autonomy because 99% of the time no one in Washington,DC is really eager to read a big report about the liberal factions in Panamanian goverment. Area specialists  at DIA, CIA, or State read them and file them quickly.

The other thing about these six to twelve specialists at the US embassy and their network of friends in DC is that they are Oh So Social.  Receptions, cocktail parties, and drinks afterward are part of their job descriptions.  And who do they schmooze with?  Why none other than old School of America or WINSEC buddies.  And do you think it's a possibility that under the current circumstances the words  M-I-L-T-A-R-Y and C-O-U-P are being bandied about?  You bet your sweet bippy, they are!

This group of mid-levels is the real power source in determining American country policy in Latin America.  They are virtually immune to pressure from the White House, because like good pool players, they set up their shots three moves in advance.  And so when something happens in Caracas or Havana or whatever -- Hey! I was in another city at the time boss! That's how the cookie crumbles!  wink wink nudge nudge.

Honduras, the attempted coup in Ecuador, and the fizzled coup against Hugo Chavez and God knows how many other times and places-- coups are coin of the realm in Latin America. Perhaps it's the water, but it is endemic.  Perhaps the greatest historical comparison to what is happening now in Venezuela and Havana is when Eva Peron was on her deathbed.  Eva's designated successor Juan did not last long, and he was quickly whisked away to Spain. 

Of course the stakes in Venezuela are much, much larger and more important than Argentina.  For one thing , we are talking about Venezuela's gigantic oil deposits.  When Phillip Agee (the rogue CIA agent and author) was in Caracas, his major job was vetting job applications for Standard Oil.  And I would imagine that one way or another, that process stilll goes on.

But wait!  It's even bigger than all the oil deposits in Venezuela.  The grifter playing the card game on the sidewalk to clean out your wallet would like you to maybe think that this was the case.  But you didn't see how he palmed that card to make you look elsewhere.

No, the bonus prize for engineering a government favorable to the United States in Venezuela is Cuba . Uncle Sam has had a hard on against Fidel and the bunch since 1960, and they've never let up.  Now that Cuba is doddering with geriatric leadership, a failing economy, and now even cholera -- Cuba is indeed overripe fruit that is just waiting to fall into Uncle Sam's hands if he plays his cards right.

If a coup can be engineered in Venezuela one way or another, then perhaps the new government in Caracas will pull the plug on the generous oil subsidies to Havana.  After all, the Venezuelan generals will need their Swiss bank accounts refurbished.   Pulling the plug on Venezuelan oil  to Cuba is The Great Game that  various political, military, and economic interests (including the Mafia) have been salivating about for decades.

Sorry you didn't see where that card is!  You lose!  Want to play another game?

Your tags:

TIP:

Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:

Comments

Type your comment below:
Lots of people in Venezuela find it ...odd that he is in Havana, when he's President of their country, if like you say, presumably, that means he's not long for this world. Some think the opposition wants another election, others not, since they just had one, and lost. Time will tell. He exists for a reason to a point, although is own governance has truly massive issues, including being another Caudillo/Man on the White Horse himself, as of course Chavez started out in life as a golpista.
Probably accurate.

Cuba used to be important when there was a Soviet Union. Now it isn't. There are two things to wait for: the passing of both Castros and the passing of most of the emigres now in South Florida. At that point, the passion will be out of the conflict.
Two comments on this:

@Kosh: Ya think??? We humans are so primitive we often carry grudges for generation after generation…and the new generations seem perfectly capable of bringing great passion to fighting fights that began hundreds (sometimes, thousands) of years ago. Our relationships with our neighbors (which includes everyone on this planet) should be much, much, much better than they are…except we Americans are part of the primitive humans I mentioned at the start of the comment.

@OldNewLefty: Excellent essay, but there are world situations in which, no matter what we do…it will be seen by some as “the wrong thing.” We can “train people to help them be able to overthrow” or “leave things for them to sort out on their own”…and at the end of the day, someone will assert we did the wrong thing. I refer this to as Dan Dierdorf syndrom in honor of a football commentator who second guesses every goddam play.
Lemme try that again. Please delete the first posting.

Two comments on this:

@Kosh: Ya think??? We humans are so primitive we often carry grudges for generation after generation…and the new generations seem perfectly capable of bringing great passion to fighting fights that began hundreds (sometimes, thousands) of years ago. Our relationships with our neighbors (which includes everyone on this planet) should be much, much, much better than they are…except we Americans are part of the primitive humans I mentioned at the start of the comment.

@OldNewLefty: There are world situations in which, no matter what we do…it will be seen by some as “the wrong thing.” We can “train people to help them be able to overthrow” or “leave things for them to sort out on their own”…and at the end of the day, someone will assert we did the wrong thing. I refer this to as Dan Dierdorf syndrom in honor of a football commentator who second guesses every goddam play.
You stated.......
""America back then wanted the entire hemisphere under the control of Uncle Sam. And ............... it still holds true, particularly with regards to economics.""

......... Yup. And the 2013 version has big eyes on much more than this hemisphere; like the entire friggin' world!

Excellent blog! Rated
;)
.
oln, no doubt that some of the murkier types in and around the embassies are gaming this situation. I’m guessing that Chavez is on his deathbed and what happens next will largely depend on how smoothly goes the constitutional transfer of power. I don’t think the U.S. would try to engineer a coup – partly because I don’t think Obama wishes to operate like that and partly because even if he did, the negative consequences elsewhere in Latin America would outweigh perceived shorter term gains in Venezuela and Cuba.

I expect that Chavez’s successor will continue the oil deal with Cuba, at least for a while. But Fidel himself must succumb and that’s bound to open thing up even more.

By the way, perhaps you were writing metaphorically but Juan Peron was Argentina’s president and Eva’s husband, not her successor.
kosher, this is actually one of those rare times when I agree with Frank. The US government certainly thinks that Cuba is important enough that it still continues a 52 year embargo. Certainly, the institutional memory is there. And Cuba is geographically important to the US from a national security standpoint.

Frank, the point of my essay was to highlight the fact that there are people in the US government and the embassy at Caracas who have nothing but bad intentions regarding Venezuela.

Abrawang, the point I was trying to make is that the lower and mid-levels of the national security bureaucracy in America sometimes have the power to implement their own way of doing things despite any good intentions from the White House or the State Department. And this is sometimes the tail that wags the dog with American foreign policy.
I think I have articulated pretty well the bad intentions that Da Boyz in Caracas have both towards Venezuela and Cuba. Having said that, there are some large boulders in the road of Da Boyz in getting their way. First, since Chavez has been in power for so long running a popular government, the WINSEC/S0A boys are probably retired and out of the game. So it will be necessary to implement their goals perhaps through other means than an immediate military coup. The last two coup attempts in Venezuela were unsuccessful, so Da Boyz will bide their time.

At this point the critical actor is Nicholas Maduro, Vice President and designated heir. This former bus driver was made Minister of Foreign Affairs before being promoted to his current position, and he does not have the charisma or star power that Chavez has had. It is unknown at this time whether Maduro will call for a special election or not.

If he does, he will be probably facing Henrique Capriles Radowski, a popular opposition leader who got 44% against Chavez in 2012. Capriles is "our boy" at least in the positions that he has advocated. If no election is called, there will be a high degree of social instability in Venezuela for sure. And even if there is an election and Maduro wins in an honest contest, he will have a tumultous administration, just as Harry Truman had after taking over power from FDR.

Perhaps Da Boyz will make trouble by being nice to Diosdado Cabello, a former highly ranked military Chavezista who participated with him in the unsuccessful 1992 coup. Cabello no doubt still has active contacts with the armed forces, and Da Boyz could appeal to his ego (or whatever) when social unrest starts to appear.

And given that it is anticipated that there will be social unrest in the next few years no matter what happens, Da Boyz will be able to open their entire toolbox of CIA tricks to exploit the situation. No need to go into detail here, except that Salvador Allende's history in Chile is an open book on this one.
Frank, the point of my essay was to highlight the fact that there are people in the US government and the embassy at Caracas who have nothing but bad intentions regarding Venezuela.

I agree with you completely on this point, ONL. I think you would also agree with me that there are probably lots of embassies around the world where foreign governments (including the US) have "bad intentions" regarding the host government.

We have to rein in this meddling nonsense...but I don't see that happening any time soon.
I don't think people have bad intentions towards Venezuela, as much as different intentions. Yes, America has liked to control access to the Western Hemisphere historically speaking, although certainly not excluded the British, and now the Spanish, both of whom in general have large investments in Latin America, the latter of whom cannot be said to be fans of Chavez.
They aren't fans of Chavez, because of the rule of law question, seen in his court packing scheme, if that tends to keep him in power, and his followers.
If he dies, seemingly likely, although his friend Kirchner did just visit, also not popular with the Spanish lately, for good reason, as to the outrageous confiscation of Repsol's investement, and you can't do business that way in a mutually beneficial way.
Clearly, the neo-liberal policy path, Washington Consensus etc... has run its course, especially in Latin America. That doesn't mean the Chavismo of Morales and Kirchner is go great either. Brazil probably has good advice on this topic, as to what is clearly the future, multipolarity, even in Latin America, although not of the nuclear variety one would think. There, as to limiting the number of nuclear armed states, the big bad mean exploitative Americans have had a place, as once you start that, its an ABC avalanche, and then Columbia versus Venezuela, hello nuclear armed drug cartels.
Patience is usually wise, as is listening to people like the Spanish, not fans of Chavismo either, as well as the Brazilians, although of course they have their own interests too. What has always been a legitimate concern is truly revolutionary states who want to topple the United States having a foothold sponsored by a non-Hemispheric Great power. We'll have to get used to dealing with a lot more complicated world as American power inevitably diffuses, if it certainly has a very important role to play, if used with enough knowledge of differences locally that mean the guy in Full Metal Jacket got it wrong about "every _ being an American waiting to jump out," if it is important for the well-being of average Latin Americans that their governments be reasonable places to do business too. Maybe that needs to be Washington Consensus Part Deux, not as much neo-liberalism, as it runs into the politics of distribution, if Chavismo is too much the other way. We don't of course do that well here either.
slow news day, is it?

times are changing, and south america is beginning to achieve economic and political independence from the evil empire. china in particular provides an economic alternative for trade. there is a good chance venezuela will transition into the next government safely.

for those concerned about 'strong-man' politics in venezuela, may i point out that chavez has held more referenda already than the usa has, and submitted to the popular result, than the usa in its entire history. not so difficult, of course, the defender of democracy never has referenda.
Don, I'm not a big fan of Chavez either for the same reasons as you. I would say that some of the things he's done in Venezuela have been exemplary, though. Call me Wilsonian, but I strongly believe in the principle of peoples self-determination for the kind of government they want. In that respect, Americans should not meddle in internal affairs to the maximum extent possible.

I think you're overstating the risks of nuclearization in Latin America. As far as I know with the exception of any US bases or visiting warships, Latin America is a nuclear free zone. Brazil and Argentina both voluntarily gave up nuclear weaponization programs, and there is no push by any country south of the Rio Grande at this point to pursue such a policy.

The push for nuclear weapons in both countries came from military dictatorships. And if the US were to encourage a military government in Venezuela, it would be increasing the risk of such a thing happening.
Al, you have just highlighted one of the many good things that Hugo Chavez did during his tenure. I agree with you 100%.
The ABC countries gave that up in the seventies, although Brazil lately has had a facility some have wondered about, although, they want independence of manuever fairly obviously, including the proposed deal with Iran over fuel supply, with the Turks note, as to another actor being unleashed from as much anchoring.
That's fine in one sense, except the flip side of the decline of unipolarity is the difficulty of finding peaceful equilibrium bargains the more actors there are, other things equal, in a very generalized sense. As well, common purposes generally require either leadership of one, or the coordination of many, the latter requiring agreement, in which the more positions, the more arguments, other things equal, which is what it is, whether it will be a good thing or not remaining to be seen, although if you look at our budget, one can see some downsides too.
It's not just Latin America, the coup leader in Mali -- who has paved the way for a French intervention and installation of their puppet -- was trained by the US.

Mali's Amadou Sanogo comes from obscurity to head junta
http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hKfcClpqsgmCJ-oqG3TRz_rPtrPg
thx as usual for the inside scoop which as they say is not all perfume and roses. "the real unpatriotism is to not question your country". --chuck hagel
Noam Chomsky identifies the early forties as the zenith of American empire (when we went to war with Japan because they intruded on our Asian supply chain). It's been all downhill since then, with the loss of China, Cuba, Vietnam and now South America.
Jane, there's no doubt a bit of imperial decline in the Ole Yew Nighted Snakes of 'Merka. But never let it be said that mid level opportunists (as in this instance) are capable of a high degree of mischief. Like any bureaucrat, they may have less than five degrees worth of discretion in shaping events and only at one limited point. However, with luck and cleverness, they can still effect a major change both in a country's domestic policies as well as the USA's national policies as was the case in Honduras.