What role will the U.S. play in Venezuela’s crisis?

MSR News Online/MSR News Online MGN Online

The New York Times has provided an insightful examination of a conflict that could turn into a shooting war in Venezuela. Over the three days of researching and writing this column, the NYT published over a dozen separate articles on how Venezuela current political crisis will impact the world’s nations and cities.

Specifically, will there be a shooting war, a world war of ideas, or both? The question, itself, is related to whether Venezuela will have a socialist economy, the current choice of Russian and Chinese on the ground, or a market economy, such as in Europe and the United States, or a combination of both that some new congressional leaders call “democratic socialism,” as seen today in the “new” China and “new” Russia.

The NYT articles illustrate three key points: First, Russia has poured nearly $25 billion into Venezuela, along with military personnel, as they build air bases to accommodate their strategic, long-range bombers. Secondly, China has just added a $5 billion pledge to help Venezuela’s oil industry. And third, although the people and National Assembly want President Nicolás Maduro to go, the Venezuelan military support him and their “guests” from Russia and China.

The NYT reports that the now impoverished Venezuela was once the fourth wealthiest country in the world, per capita. As stated by both the NYT and the Washington Post: “Venezuela is heading toward complete disaster,” despite having “the world’s largest proven oil reserves.”

The reports show that the number-one problem is hunger, causing three million to flee their country. Five million more are projected to flee this year, unmasking the current humanitarian trifecta: hunger, economics, and social unrest.

Some have suggested Maduro step aside and have the United Nations (UN) settle the matter and guide new elections. Others want Juan Guaidó, head of the National Assembly opposition, who, as allowed by the Constitution, declared himself to be the interim president until the National Assembly can sort it all out.

But, as this is being written, both China and Russia favor Maduro, and both have UN veto power within the UN Security Council, which would guarantee that America might have to go it alone. But how? Militarily, with boots on the ground? Diplomatically with sanctions that will further impoverish Venezuela, while the Chinese and Russians continue their military buildup?

Will Brazil, sharing a common border, intervene militarily? That is a pipe dream. A military conflict, ramping up from militaristic propaganda that the little South Americans will be saved again by North America’s “Big Brother,” would cause another Vietnam-like situation, and we all know how that ended.

Will Donald Trump “coincidentally” trigger military conflict in Venezuela as a diversion from his presidential problems? How does the Trump Administration’s discussion of a potential military action fit the 19th century Monroe Doctrine that warned foreign powers not to interfere in Latin America?

Where will people of Venezuela go? How many will try to cross our southern border, just as the poor and hungry have flooded Europe — hence the serious policy debate regarding socialism versus market-based approaches? How many new people can America support?

Is Trump’s strategy to stop Americans from dying in the Middle East only to switch the dying zone to South America? Will the American republic put up the stop sign? Even though the U.S. has obtained support from a majority of members of the Organization of American States and countries around the world, as well as Venezuela’s National Assembly, would they actually offer military resources to drive out Maduro, who enjoys the support of two major nuclear powers?

Stay tuned.