Every POTUS of the last 100 years or more has been involved in some form of imperialist project across the globe, from Latin America to the Middle East. From the presidential standard, Trump is failing on the war front – even Obama started a couple of wars and toppled a few governments. A number of occasions – North Korea, Iran, even Russia regarding the strife in Ukraine – have lent themselves to the prospect of a new invasion or proxy war, but as the situation in Venezuela escalates it might just give the Trump administration the US seal of approval.
The consensus in Australia, and indeed globally outside the US and few others, I have seen online is that the US intervention in Latin America is wrong, and that the current declaration of Guaido as President of Venezuela is driven solely by US private and imperial interests and not the freedom of the Venezuelan people. It is mildly heartening to know that most people oppose this coup, even if our governments bow to US supremacy. Even within the US there is a fair amount of dissension, although one can’t help but wonder how much of it is simply based on anti-Trump sentiments than any real concern of Venezuelan independence – many seem quite unaware of their country’s involvement south of the Mexican border.
Within the US administration, the toppling of the Maduro government is a priority. Such an outcome would again lead to the privatisation of the country’s oil resources and excessive US control over it. The intentional crash of oil prices by Saudi Arabia flooding the market, US sanctions against Venezuela, and increased corruption and desperation of the Maduro regime has led to a dire situation for the Venezuelan people. The country, somewhat daftly one might think, relied entirely on the price of oil to fund projects, which worked well under Chavez. Since Maduro took power in 2013, however, the above issues took hold and left them economically for dead. This has led to an increased call for new elections, after the questionable circumstances surrounding the last one, and from the US calls for regime change.
But could it lead to invasion? Maduro has rejected any US intervention as illegitimate but has stated he would be willing to negotiate with the opposition. It is unlikely that these negotiations would succeed, and less so that they would lead to fresh elections. All options are still open, however, and while no party wants an invasion it may well lead to it if the crisis remains unresolved. Even if it negatively affects the US’ international relations, there appears to be a bizarre fetish for leaders that instigate wars. The prestige of a US President is only boosted after such a blatantly wrong decree, and it’s not until quite some time later that people begin to question it. For example, Obama is still, to the majority, a saint, and to find mainstream criticism of his foreign policy objectives is difficult. Bush’s invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq received great support as well at the time, in the aftermath of 9/11, but as the years go on more and more start to realise the morality and legality of the whole affair was not on their side.
So far, Trump has not started any wars or attempted any coups, but instead merely continued to fight the battles left by his predecessors. While the lack of new battlegrounds is notable, the existing ones have increased in brutality. Venezuela might be his chance to slap his name on a conflict and, for a short time, receive support from both sides of government, if not the people themselves. Who knows though – maybe if the American psyche of bloodlust is commandeered by Trump then it’ll turn the country off imperialism in blind opposition of the President? The people aren’t happy, they just need to get the Democrats to join them rather than supporting the coup.
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