Latin America: Uncle Sam’s Foreign Policy Graveyard

Washington neocons are in favor of direct U.S. military involvement in bringing about regime change in Venezuela, and President Trump has offered support to opposition leader Juan Guaido who is seeking to replace the nation’s elected sitting President Nicolas Maduro. It seems no one is considering the long and sordid history of U.S. intervention in Latin America, with its disastrous consequences.

By Richard Walker

United States intervention in Latin America has proved disastrous for over a century, making the prospect of taking sides in the developing crisis in Venezuela a very risky prospect. On Jan. 23, President Donald Trump signaled he was in favor of regime change in Venezuela by offering his backing to opposition leader Juan Guaido, who had just declared himself interim president. Guaido made the move despite the fact that sitting President Nicolas Maduro had no plans to step down. While Canada and some Western powers supported Trump’s decision, Russia, China, Turkey, and Italy condemned it. Some observers warned that it might open a path to the Cold War politics that dominated Latin America for decades.

Those with cool heads believe this political conflict has the potential to descend into a civil war that could see the types of forced migration reminiscent of what happened in Iraq and Syria. It could have a devastating impact on neighboring countries and ultimately on the United States. Venezuela is much larger than Iraq with roughly the same size of population, and any U.S. military force tasked with regime change would have to number close to 80,000 to 100,000.

Washington neocons are in favor of direct U.S. military involvement, but by any standard they are blind to the sordid history of American interventionist politics in the southern hemisphere. The media, for its part, has generally tended to overstate Guaido’s power and support, given that Maduro retains the backing of the country’s military and at least half the population. It is also a fact that Chavistas, as Maduro supporters are known—taking their name from the nation’s late president, Hugo Chavez—are well armed and would pose a serious threat to an invading force should Trump commit troops to Venezuela to overthrow Maduro. There is a real possibility such a strategy would erupt into extreme violence and a full-blown civil war. The U.S. would have to go it alone, because neighboring countries are opposed to military intervention, and there is no consensus within the UN Security Council for such a strategy.

Those contemplating U.S. military intervention would be well advised to read the history books. A century after Christopher Columbus landed in the New World, the big European colonial powers, especially the Spanish and the Portuguese, began a conquest in search of riches that led to the destruction of the two great civilizations of the Americas, the Incas and the Aztecs. The British and the French followed, and they all plundered the continent. European influence began to wane quickly after 1823 when President James Monroe issued the Monroe Doctrine, ordering Europeans to end their colonial projects. In other words, he told them to go home. In 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt issued his “Corollary” declaration, ceding to Washington the right to interfere when it chose in the Americas. It subsequently became the basis for the last 100 years of Washington’s regime-change policies in Latin America, some of them overt and others covert.

An example of how 20th-century Washington power players viewed the southern hemisphere is this statement by Robert Olds, undersecretary of state in 1929: “There is no room for any outside influence other than ours. … Central America has always understood that governments we support stay in power, while those we do not recognize and support fall. … It is difficult to see how we can afford to be defeated.”

A year after Olds made his comments, Raphael Trujillo, an officer trained by the U.S. military, became dictator of the Dominican Republic with Washington’s approval.

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According to American historian John Coatsworth, U.S. intervention in Latin America has been unrelenting since 1899 with 41 successful regime-change interventions, which he says is essentially one every 28 months. He makes the following observations: “Direct intervention occurred in 17 of the 41 cases. These incidents involved the use of U.S. military forces, intelligence agents or local citizens employed by U.S. government agencies. In another 24 cases, the U.S. government played an indirect role. That is, local actors played the principal roles, but either would not have acted or would not have succeeded without encouragement from the U.S. government.”

Venezuela is one of the countries that has seen a lot of U.S. indirect interference through the CIA’s use of cut-out organizations and the financing of elements within protest movements.

Trump may yet discard advice from neocons that have long held the position that intervention in the Americas is good for U.S. security. This is not the Cold War, and communism no longer dominates the region. U.S. military intervention could, however, change all that. It is also worth noting that vested U.S. corporate interests have always argued that Washington ought to return control of Venezuela’s oil riches to them. Energy is never far from the surface of Washington’s Latin American policymaking.

A unique statistic, rarely mentioned, is that intervention in the Americas has always accelerated mass migration toward the U.S. border. Estimates put the Hispanic population in the U.S. at 150 million within three decades.

Richard Walker is the pen name of a former N.Y. news producer.

Regime Change—American Style

Will 2019 be the year of the war of all against all? It’s looking like it. Buchanan asks whether the next generation will rise up and say, “Enough!”

By Patrick J. Buchanan

The campaign to overturn the 2016 election and bring down President Trump shifted into high gear this week.

Inspiration came Saturday morning from the altar of the National Cathedral where our establishment came to pay homage to John McCain.

Gathered there were all the presidents from 1993 to 2017, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, Vice Presidents Al Gore and Dick Cheney, Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and Henry Kissinger, the leaders of both houses of Congress, and too many generals and admirals to list.

Striding into the pulpit, Obama delivered a searing indictment of the man undoing his legacy:

“So much of our politics, our public life, our public discourse can seem small and mean and petty, trafficking in bombast and insult and phony controversies and manufactured outrage. . . . It’s a politics that pretends to be brave and tough but in fact is born of fear.”

Speakers praised McCain’s willingness to cross party lines, but Democrats took away a new determination: From here on out, confrontation!

Tuesday morning, as Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court began, Democrats disrupted the proceedings and demanded immediate adjournment, as scores of protesters shouted and screamed to halt the hearings.

Taking credit for orchestrating the disruption, Sen. Dick Durbin boasted, “What we’ve heard is the noise of democracy.”

But if mob action to shut down a Senate hearing is the noise of democracy, this may explain why many countries are taking a new look at the authoritarian rulers who can at least deliver a semblance of order.

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Wednesday came leaks in The Washington Post from Bob Woodward’s new book, attributing to Chief of Staff John Kelly and Gen. James Mattis crude remarks on the president’s intelligence, character, and maturity, and describing the Trump White House as a “crazytown” led by a fifth- or sixth-grader.

Kelly and Mattis both denied making the comments.

Thursday came an op-ed in The New York Times by an anonymous “senior official” claiming to be a member of the “resistance . . . working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his (Trump’s) agenda.”

A pedestrian piece of prose containing nothing about Trump one cannot read or hear daily in the media, the op-ed caused a sensation, but only because Times editors decided to give the disloyal and seditious Trump aide who wrote it immunity and cover to betray his or her president.

The transaction served the political objectives of both parties.

While the Woodward book may debut at the top of The New York Times best-seller list, and “Anonymous,” once ferreted out and fired, will have his or her 15 minutes of fame, what this portends is not good.

For what is afoot here is something America specializes in—regime change. Only the regime our establishment and media mean to change is the government of the United States. What is afoot is the overthrow of America’s democratically elected head of state.

The methodology is familiar. After a years-long assault on the White House and president by a special prosecutor’s office, the House takes up impeachment, while a collaborationist press plays its traditional supporting role.

Presidents are wounded, disabled or overthrown, and Pulitzers all around.

No one suggests Richard Nixon was without sin in trying to cover up the Watergate break-in. But no one should delude himself into believing that the overthrow of that president, not two years after he won the greatest landslide in U.S. history, was not an act of vengeance by a hate-filled city that ran a sword through Nixon for offenses it had covered up or brushed under the rug in the Roosevelt, Kennedy and Johnson years.

So, where are we headed?

If November’s elections produce, as many predict, a Democratic House, there will be more investigations of President Trump than any man charged with running the U.S. government may be able to manage.

There is the Mueller investigation into “Russiagate” that began before Trump was inaugurated. There is the investigation of his business and private life before he became president in the Southern District of New York. There is the investigation into the Trump Foundation by New York State.

There will be investigations by House committees into alleged violations of the Emoluments Clause. And ever present will be platoons of journalists ready to report the leaks from all of these investigations.

Then, if media coverage can drive Trump’s polls low enough, will come the impeachment investigation and the regurgitation of all that went before.

If Trump has the stamina to hold on, and the Senate remains Republican, he may survive, even as Democrats divide between a rising militant socialist left and the Democrats’ septuagenarian caucus led by Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, John Kerry, Bernie Sanders, and Nancy Pelosi.

2019 looks to be the year of bellum omnium contra omnes, the war of all against all. Entertaining, for sure, but how many more of these coups d’etat can the Republic sustain before a new generation says enough of all this?

Pat Buchanan is a writer, political commentator and presidential candidate. He is the author of Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever and previous titles including The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority, Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? and Churchill, Hitler and the Unnecessary War, all available from the AFP Online Store.


Regime Change a Recipe for War in Iran

Has the Trump administration, a la Jared Kushner, learned nothing from the history of America’s last regime-change efforts in Iran? Perhaps even worse today, “the decision by President Donald Trump to use America’s power once again to interfere with Iran’s internal politics does not have the backing of America’s NATO allies, including Turkey, and is also opposed by Russia and China.”

By Richard Walker

Sixty-five years after a CIA-inspired coup overthrew a democratically elected Iranian government to install a pro-Western puppet regime, the Trump administration has announced its intention to once again force regime change in Iran.

The 1953 coup led by the U.S. was a disgraceful episode in the history of U.S. foreign policy and involved the British, who were determined to control Iran’s oil riches.

The CIA in Iran
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Today, the decision by President Donald Trump to use America’s power once again to interfere with Iran’s internal politics does not have the backing of America’s NATO allies, including Turkey, and is also opposed by Russia and China.

Given that Washington’s regime change policy in Syria has turned out to be such a disaster, the announcement by former CIA chief Mike Pompeo, now secretary of state, that Iran is now in the Trump White House crosshairs was not well received by European nations that will not back America in another Middle East war driven by neocon fervor and Washington’s ties to Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Anyone with a brain knows that the Middle East has been a junkyard for U.S. foreign policy. There has been a long line of disasters including the Iraq War, the Syria War, the removal of Muammar Qaddafi in Libya that led to the disintegration of that country into armed camps, and support for Saudi Arabia that is committing war crimes in Yemen and paying al Qaeda to assist it. The recent Saudi slaughter of a busload of Yemeni school children with a missile supplied by the U.S. did not raise an eyebrow in Congress. One can only imagine what the reaction would have been had Israeli children been massacred by Palestinians.

The risk of running a covert campaign to force regime change in Iran is that it could lead to a bloody war across the region. That would suit Israel and Saudi Arabia, two of the Trump administration’s closest allies. It would also cost many lives, including those of U.S. service personnel. Russia, an ally of Iran, could be drawn into such a conflict.

None of this appears to trouble Trump, who franchised out Middle East policy to his son-inlaw, Jared Kushner, a family friend of Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu and a close associate of the reckless Saudi leader Mohammed bin Salman.

Because of an anti-Iran alliance between the Saudis and Israelis, the Saudis are behaving like they can do what they please in the region. Last year, they threatened to invade Qatar, but Turkey placed troops in Qatar as a warning that a Saudi invasion would have consequences beyond Qatar.

The recent revelation that the Saudis and their ally, the United Arab Emirates, were providing al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) with arms, training, and large sums of money was initially denied by the Saudis, but more recent reports have confirmed that it was true.

For America to be involved with the Saudi war in Yemen in which al Qaeda is an ally is to trash the memory of all those who died on the USS Cole and on 9/11. One of the most bizarre elements of the Saudi-al Qaeda alliance is that AQAP has been identified as the al Qaeda franchise that poses the greatest threat to America.

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It should not have come as a shock to anyone that Pompeo recently announced the creation of a shadowy organization, the Iran Action Group (IAG), whose members’ names are classified. The aim of the IAG is supposedly to change the Iran regime’s policies, which is a euphemism for taking military and economic actions to overthrow the regime. This is the same Pompeo who is on record claiming that it would take only 2,000 bombing sorties by the U.S. and its allies to destroy Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and presumably its industrial base. The claim was made in 2014, but now there would be no NATO allies prepared tojoin such a venture, leaving Washington tied to Israel and Saudi Arabia.

On May 22, Pompeo ominously warned that the U.S. would use all its economic and military might to destroy Iran’s economy and crush its operatives and proxies around the world. It was clearly a threat of U.S. inter-agency activity of the type Israel is fond of, including assassinations. Such a policy would result in blowback beyond the Middle East.

Commentator Daniel Patrick Welch told PressTV he believed Russia and China would oppose any reckless move to attack Iran. Turkey, meanwhile, has made it clear that it will side with Russia and China in helping Iran combat Washington sanctions.

A Russian diplomatic source with knowledge of the region spoke to AFP off the record, pointing out that Moscow was concerned the Trump administration was being moved toward a major conflict with Iran. The source said the Kremlin saw no appetite among European nations for more chaos in the Middle East.

Richard Walker is the pen name of a former N.Y. news producer.