Our Political Editor David O'Donoghue argues that the United States admission that they feel threatened by Venezuela is laughable.
A great and threatening evil is arising out of Latin America. A repressive monster putting Adolf, Josef and Saddam to shame. A cruel evil we must watch out for and potentially take up arms against.
And the name of that evil is Venezuela.
At least that would be the view of American President Barack Obama and the army of US foreign policy wonks in the State Department, who continue to decry the leftist regime of the small Latin American country as “an extraordinary threat to the national security” of the United States.
It is indeed by some curious alchemy that we’ve gone from a situation in the early 20th century when the great agents of terror on the world stage were large, repressive, heavily armed economic giants like Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, to our condition now where it is the tiniest and most economically depressed countries, from Nicaragua, to Iraq to Venezuela, that seem to be represented as the ultimate conspiratorial evil.
So for what reason should this small economic backwater in Latin America pose such a dire threat to global peace at a time when tensions between economic powerhouses such as China and Japan or India and Pakistan are ratcheting up further and further?
Well, according to US sources, the reasons are obvious. Since the death of popular demagogue Hugo Chavez, the already repressive Venezuelan regime has only grown more and more dire. On March 9th President Obama officially declared, “a national emergency with respect to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by the situation in Venezuela”.
Actions taken by the Venezuelan government under socialist Nicolás Maduro that the US claims have marked the regime out as a dark and destructive force in geopolitics include: “actions that prohibit, limit, or penalize the exercise of freedom of expression or peaceful assembly” and “actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions”.
The Venezuelan government has not, to be fair, had the greatest history when it comes to safeguarding the rights of free political expression, with a ban on unauthorised demonstrations recently provoking much anger among the Venezuelan public. But why is it that far more repressive and despotic regimes, from the blogger-flogging Saudi Arabia to Columbia, where trade unionists have been virtually massacred in recent years, do not receive the same level of condemnation from US and Western sources?
The sad reality is that Western foreign policy since WWII has been so much shadowboxing, not about tackling real threats to peace, but about managing material gain for the West and ensuring that the ideological bidding of the West is done.
It is not about peace, or justice or honour, but about figuring out what dictator we have to support to ensure that Western bidding is done and we flee developing countries with flames engulfing the streets and our pockets overflowing with gold.
Venezuela, as opposed to other South American regimes with poor human rights records such as Colombia and Mexico, is notable for one reason. Not because it is some particularly cruel, vicious and monstrous regime, but it is one of the few states in the world with large oil reserves that refuses to submit to Western exploitative demands.
Instead it chooses to use the wealth produced by its natural mineral resources in large scale redistributionist efforts, lifting millions of peasants out of extreme poverty and working to greatly reduce infant mortality and unemployment since the socialist Chavez government took over in 1998.
The idea that Venezuela is a threat to the West is made even more hilarious by the fact that it is in fact the exact opposite that is true. An attempted violent overthrow of the democratically elected Chavez government in 2001 was found to have received substantial funding and training from the United States, and Western forces have continued to discreetly encourage attempts to depose the elected Chavistas in favour of unelected, Western-friendly military forces.
The idea that America should be the nation feeling threatened in this relationship is akin to the playground bully crying to the school guidance counsellor that the skinny kid in the glasses sporting a fresh black eye gave the brawny bully a threatening glance.
Certainly the Chavez/Maduro regime is not some angelic ideal, and there are plenty of concerns to be raised over corruption and human rights abuses in the country, as there are in so many developing nations. But one should always be skeptical of anyone who tries to pick out your enemies for you.
I mean, who are you afraid of, the “national security threat” of a government that reduces infant mortality and poverty, or our gallant allies in places like Saudi Arabia, who beheaded more people last year then ISIS ever has? For my money, I know who I’d prefer to find walking against me in the dark alleys of geopolitics.
Photo: Independent.ie/ Christian Veron