Variation 1.0: The departure of Steve Bannon, President Trump’s main adviser and political strategist, has consolidated the purge within the President's Cabinet. Any further expulsions from the administration are superfluous since the reconquest of the executive branch by the war party has definitively shut down any attempt to do things differently, in some way or other, as originally offered in the presidential campaign. The ship’s course is now set. As William S. Lind, who created the theory of Fourth Generation Warfare, put it, “The United States is a one party State. The one party is the party of the Establishment which happens also to be the war party. Unless you are prepared to argue for permanent war as the way to permanent peace, you cannot be part of the Establishment”.
Everything will get worse. Control of the genie bottle known as the White House will not mitigate in any way the explosive social situation, the banalities of the internecine power struggle, the internal contradictions and dangers, as can be seen, inside the country, from the strategy of tension, or from a paradoxical move giving obscure messages of power about actions to be taken on permanent, unchanging foreign policy objectives, including ways and means of destroying other countries, as we are seeing now.
Variation 2.0. Another symptom of the crisis inside the imperialist labyrinth is the unacknowledged fight going on between those who control their respective preferred instruments of enforcement, namely, the Pentagon (conservatives) and the CIA (liberals). Trump sided with the Pentagon (he has, or had, shares in the Raytheon arms company) via a direct advocacy of military reindustrialization and a more open style of military intervention than the secret operations of covert destabilization of the intelligence apparatus. The executive branch (and part of the judicial branch) is run by a military junta brought into being when General John Kelly, formerly of the U.S. military’s Southern Command, became head of the presidential Cabinet. But inside that same government, purged now of “anti-establishment” personalities like Bannon, the current of opinion favorable to the CIA (neoconservatives/interventionist liberals) not only continues to prevail but, with regard to Venezuela, the intelligence apparatus methods look better than a view more like the Pentagon’s. One has only to look at a comparison between using paramilitaries and media operations as against a Trump-style military option similar to everything associated with the invasion of Panama in 1989.
The Trump administration shut down the project developed under cover by the CIA over six years to create, fund and provide military training and equipment against Syria (using over a dozen countries to do so). Creating proxy mercenary units, like the Colombian paramilitaries, is not Trump’s first choice. In the Syrian theater of operations, the Pentagon chose to use special forces on the ground “advising” the Kurds in the north-east of Syria as against creating “moderate rebels” who unavoidably ended up assimilating into Al-Qaeda, confronting not just the Syrian government but the Kurdish militias too. The CIA versus the Pentagon.
Variation 2.1 But, once again, neither is it categorical or exact to argue a confrontation between two monolithic blocs. If we take Gordon Duff seriously, and perhaps we should, nor is there a uniform position within the Department of Defense, which according to Duff is controlled by a small fanatical group fending off others, especially the more nuanced or “professional”. The same can be said on issues over which there is virtually complete agreement, for example on Afghanistan. And the exceptionalism, the demented false belief/doctrine of seeing itself as the world’s “indispensable nation”. The War Party. The Empire.
The renewal for a 16th consecutive year of the occupation of Afghanistan “for one year” brings together this policy continuity, in all its aspects, to the point where the Trump administration is broadening the military theaters of the Obama administration. In that context, everyone is a winner. The Pentagon ensures the Wall Street-industrial-military dollar machine continues to work. The CIA keeps control of poppy production and heroin processing to preserve its budget. While Donald Trump condemns the increase in opiate use as a social emergency requiring attention. The policy fight as far as the Deep State/Deep System is concerned is merely a matter of form.
Variation 3.0 The latest executive order, a financial attack targeting PDVSA formalizes what was already there, more covertly, just a step away. Whatever the nuance, or new angle or well-worn highway the pattern of aggression may take, the template remains the same. No “military option” exists without first softening Venezuela up and breaking it from the inside. Sanctions are part of the repertory, a visible part. As deputy Foreign Minister Samuel Moncada noted, the Obama Decree gave a “legal framework” for the clandestine operations against Venezuela of the intelligence community (CIA, DEA, NSA and so on for the other 14 agencies). The new executive order does the same but in the area of trade and finance. So one has the same insane notion of jurisprudence that U.S. domestic law has jurisdiction beyond its frontiers.
Variación 4.0 But making everything newly visible, as we are witnessing in high definition, also leaves the internal collaborators exposed in the media in their true dimension, all of a piece, furthermore, with the rest of the “ruling class” that controls the continent. The “reaction” to the so-called military option was calculated with multi-purpose results (see variation 5.0), but its nature does not conceal what escaped from the formula. The spokespersons of the “Lima Declaration” opposed to the “military option” were not reacting to an anachronistic, retrograde political gangsterism. Instead, they saw themselves in the mirror. Once the precedent is set, once an openly brutal military option, preceded by the criminalization of the political leadership, is normalized, then it will be much easier to carry out anywhere else, including against countries enthusiastic for the “Declaration” (itself an idea not mooted some local foreign ministry but by the International Crisis Group, which proposed an ad hoc group of countries, should the OAS fail). That might explain the acceleration of the “humanitarian” expedient and the pattern of false-flag provocations on the Colombian border as a way of camouflaging the Trump option. Once again, simply a matter of the form they choose for an “indirect approximation”.
Variation 5.0 Trump put it exactly like this "We have many options for Venezuela. And by the way, I am not ruling out a military option. We have many options for Venezuela. This is our neighbor. We're all over the world, and we have troops all over the world in places that are very, very far away. Venezuela is not very far away and the people are suffering and they're dying. We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option, if necessary."
It is impossible not to take the threat literally, but it is also necessary to contextualize the message and the use being made of it. The conditionals highlighted in bold offer some clues, Trump, as a “businessman”, ups the ante and the tone of the “deal”. This is his heavily personal kind of “persuasion”, beyond the equally clear intentions of the White House and its adjuncts. The main difference can be found by re-evaluating it in the political marketplace as a Bill Clinton style act of war carried out to divert attention from domestic scandal and taking as given that Venezuela is the easiest short term target within reach, given the other global scenarios. So it is an escalation of the individual tone, with particular goals, in relation to a course of action already under way. The formal shock occurs within the same dynamic of the various factors in play and with the same overall logic, ranging from open leadership (Trump making direct military threats) to a “stay behind” model, turning “events” into protagonists and their local actors into “leaders”, for example, someone like Luis Florido.
Variation 6.0 Another point is the theatrical, propaganda nature of Trump’s threat, for a very simple reason, namely, the military option has already been under way in Venezuela for some time, only covertly and, for now, with low intensity. When a deserter, former Captain in the Bolivarian National Guard, in Miami since 2014, linked to Patricia Poleo, interviewed “from hiding” by Fernando del Rincón on Spanish CNN, suddenly reappears in a resurgence of the 2014 political violence, attacking a very important military base, that itself constitutes the activation of the “military option” regardless of the degree of adventurism reflected in that action’s wretched failure. To put things plainly, the “military option” has been under way already for a long time.
Variation 7.0 Going back to Variation 5.0, the disunity and dissonance of the Trump administration’s pronouncements also establish a communications pattern familiar from other “crises” or situations in its eight months of accident-prone, troubled and besieged period in office. Reviewing its declarations and actions in relation to Syria, North Korea, China or Afghanistan, what Trump says has been contradicted, unsaid or deflated either by the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the Vice President Mike Pence (who even undertook a tour of Latin America to pacify “partners”), by Secretary of Defense James Mattis, or by some other spokesperson or representative of the executive branch.
Variation 8.0 While all this is at least objectively factual, one also should take into account the administration’s deliberate deployment of the “madman strategy” as Misión Verdad has noted before. The product of the mental workings of Henry Kissinger, now one of Trump’s senior international policy advisers, “madman” theory and strategy consist basically of increasing uncertainty in the channels of foreign policy communication and action. Thus, the disunity or incoherence of pronouncements produces dissonances incapable of reflecting a clear course of action (so, for example, one day there will be no regime change in Syria and the next day 59 missiles get launched against it). This means, for any given country, how to anticipate U.S. action, what move to make, what tactic to adopt as regards an issue or disagreement, is thrown into doubt. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the versions so far considered, the U.S. government does not talk with one voice nor is it a rational partner. Minus its military budget or its capacity for financial extortion, just like the Venezuelan political opposition in the MUD, no one would talk to it. The US is a pariah State.
Variation 9.0 The policy continuity on Venezuela between one U.S. administration and another was always guaranteed, in the first place because the measures employed came neither from the government of Trump nor that of Obama, but from the lobbies and power elites that control the legislature, the only ones with substantive sovereignty throughout this story. Obama’s decree resulted from a bipartisan logic and consensus, subordinate to the respective pressure groups of mafias, in the strict sense, from south Florida, or in a corporate sense, for example, Big Oil and the armaments industry. Bob Menendez and Marco Rubio, for example, are political whores for some unaccountable interest. And after all, Trump really is a third rank player in spite of a brief moment of a possible hint of change, however remote, based on the earliest of his campaign promises, suggesting at least the possibility of his disastrous presidency being limited to the domestic arena rather than overseas. This writer too held that vain hope
Variation 10.0 At the end of last May, security adviser General H.R. McMaster, and economic adviser Gary Cohn, both White House insiders, co-signed an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal laying down categorically that the U.S. is not going to relate to the rest of the global community as an amicable partner but as a superpower able to impose its own “amicable” conditions on other countries or, if not, then to confront them. McMaster is an important functionary, architect of disasters like the one evident in Iraq, while Cohn is president of Goldman Sachs. So they speak as the Deep State, whatever the President in residence may say. In response to that article, the U.S. Army War College published a Department of Defense study which warned of the decline of the United States as the supreme world superpower. Its solution is nothing less than the hyper-militarization of everything so as to better safeguard access to what is left of the planet’s resources, accompanied by an intensification of psychological and information warfare for its general audience.
The conjuncture of both documents, both in form and in substance, expresses, 1) an increasingly deafening level of aggression; 2) the incomparable dementia of the U.S. power elites betting all they have regardless of appearances; 3) a warning of their vulnerability, urgently under threat, requiring a traumatic political acceleration so they can act or intervene immediately as required.
As the texts make clear, the U.S. power elites need to wrap up Latin America once and for all so as to be able subsequently to undermine the Euro-Asian project. Venezuela is the last frontier in the Western hemisphere and everyone knows it:
It is for Trump as an individual, as President and as a brand, and for his circle, just as it is too for the neoconservatives and their fellow travelers anxious to hold on to control of the whole apparatus of the U.S. State;
It is for the CIA so as to continue their narco-business with whoever may be the Savior of the moment, be it God or Northrop Grumman;
It is for the U.S. Congress, so the eternal revolving-door money-laundry machine keeps on turning;
It is for Luis Almagro, Mauricio Macri and all the other “regional political leaders” ganging up on Venezuela, under orders from their owners, who otherwise may give them a good tug on the leash;
It is for the local prosthetic aid politicians serving all the above, like Julio Borges, because they too are in the same up or down greasy pole game;
And it is for the under-used protozoa of “The Resistance” because they believe what awaits them should Maduro fall will be a wonder surpassing paradise.
Venezuela is urgent for everyone.
Variation 11.0 With South America effectively turned into a post-2009 coup Honduras, the U.S. knows, like we all do, that if Venezuela falls then so too will every country that up until now has been in the fight. Nicaragua (against which sanctions are also lined up), El Salvador, Bolivia and the Caribbean constellation of countries, which either singly or together have resisted more pressure on them to give up even than Dilma Rousseff. In Ecuador, to all appearances, neither a coup nor disruption and destabilization may be necessary since Lenín Moreno, with his repertory of idiotic songs by Serrat, is following orders better than anybody.
At the close of business today, the following pattern of dynamics surrounds Venezuela, all under the direct tutelage, in political terms, either of corporations or of the U.S. government. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference. The majority of countries are formally governed by the worst political class in history, completely blackmailed and subordinate, showing different phases of nationcide and destruction of the Nation-State, with the floodgates wide open to let in an upgrade of U.S. Forward Operating Locations and military exercises. All this is mixed up with the dissolving of frontiers via narcotics and open aggression against the peoples supposedly “governed”, just pick a country. This coalition of governments facilitates the harmonization of every resource and every method of attack possible against Venezuela, while treading highly volatile ground, effectively a minefield, in a general context, by any measure, of extreme insecurity. It is on this ground that they shuffle and try out all options against the country where I live. They want to globalize Venezuela.
Two concluding variations
Variation 12.0 The combination of elements hurriedly glossed over here can be summed up by saying that the military option is already in progress, subordinated to other areas like finance, with plenty of argument about the form it may take (until it approximates closer to the strategic objectives) which affects the U.S. political arena in its undeclared civil war. Nor does a single voice speak with clarity, for example, the President’s, which increases the level of danger and the extremes to which the aggression may be carried out. That aggression, given the tactical haste of local and foreign actors, may have the same unpredictable consequences the National Constituent Assembly did for what those actors had prepared. But in any case, independent of how it is reached, the objective stays the same and towards that target they are aiming all the firepower they need.
Variation bonus track. The tale is well known that an assistant to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt once remarked to him that the Nicaraguan dictator Somoza was a “son of a bitch”. To which Mr. Roosevelt answered, “Yes. But he’s our son of a bitch.” A good anecdote to remind all those politicians, media spokespeople, economic-finance gurus, savage bankers, big time traders, multitasking social super-scientists and assorted activists with neither dignity, place nor obvious substance, to whom they all belong. It reminds us who they are, to whom they are indebted, to whom they are for sale, cheap, and what it is they serve. Scientifically proven.
First published in Mision Verdad on Sept. 1, 2017.
Translation by Toritlla con Sal.