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Trump’s UN Speech on Venezuela – Some Hidden Key Themes

  • A protester hold a sign reading "Stay out of Venezuela Trump"
    A protester hold a sign reading “Stay out of Venezuela Trump” | Photo: EFE
Since military officers now control U.S. foreign policy, the logic they apply to geopolitics is preeminently military too.

In parallel to the political train wreck of anti-Chavismo in Venezuela, the U.S. Establishment faces its own variety of internal chaos and conflict.

OPINION: Venezuela: US Occupation Has Already Begun and Is Being Conducted by ExxonMobil

The main event on the first day of the 72nd annual session of the United Nations Organization’s General Assembly was the speech by Donald Trump. He duly confirmed what was expected from him, with his self-interested “central focus” falling on North Korea, Iran and Venezuela in support of the U.S. geopolitical siege agenda.

A Far from Romantic Introduction

If Donald Trump has demonstrated anything almost a year since being elected U.S. president it is above all his domestic political weakness and his foreign policy incoherence.

The contradictions with regard to his electoral campaign promises, for example the dispatch of more troops to Afghanistan when he had promised to withdraw them during the election campaign, added to the rapid dismantling of his initial political team, evince not just the strong internal power struggle over control of U.S. foreign policy, but the current president’s caliber too.

An article by Daniel Larison in the American Conservative tries to explain Trump’s constant contradictions, so assiduously exploited by Fox News and CNN, “As I’ve observed before, this is a man who believes in nothing but himself, and he has no firm convictions, so he can be manipulated by whomever he happens to be speaking with at the moment.”

Larison goes on, “1) Trump generally doesn’t understand or care about policy substance; 2) he doesn’t feel any obligation to honor commitments he has made; 3) he will get rolled in any negotiation he enters into because all that interests him is the appearance of successful deal-making.”

RELATED: US Sanctions Against Venezuela Could Backfire: Cuban Observer

These three points partially define the framework of Trump’s actions. For him, sending troops to Afghanistan does not betray any ideological precept, while stating that he will destroy North Korea embodies nothing of political substance, nor does asserting that Iran’s government is a “corrupt dictatorship” just like Venezuela, all these at once and provoking more suspicion than agreement.

Showing political muscle so that the U.S. appears to be the invincible global police officer, grown stronger since the turn of the century, is as important as what it covers up, namely the lack of power to achieve its objectives which is then compensated for by imposing a narrative keeping alive the possibility of a confrontation with strategic rivals.

For Trump, Venezuela specifically, is regarded in this same way. As a negotiator, he sees a highly viable political, economic and financial opportunity, duly agreed with those in control of US foreign policy. The potential domestic political and energy costs of more aggressive sanctions towards Venezuela’s oil and financial sectors, or of a direct military intervention, complicate, at least for now, living up to the inflated reality of his speech to the UN General Assembly.

Militarizing US Foreign Policy

Contrary to the Obama adminstration, characterized by an equilibrium between civil and military senior figures in charge of US foreign policy, the Trump administration, on this issue has tilted very quickly towards the military.

Writer and former New York Times reporter Stephen Kinzer, argues that “Ultimate power to shape American foreign and security policy has fallen into the hands of three military men: General James Mattis, the Secretary of Defense; General John Kelly, President Trump’s Chief of Staff; and General H.R. McMaster, the National Security Adviser.”

Kinzer evaluates that moment in the Trump administration as the culmination of a “slow motion military coup” aimed at controlling the US government against the “political crazies” that entered the White House on Trump’s coattails. Events suggest the imposition of a de facto government also composed of crazies.

This profile, homogenizing Trump as a single strategy administration, under the thumb of armaments and oil corporations, conspiring behind the scenes, looks like it has become a permanent fixture of U.S. diplomacy.

Trump’s speech to the U.N. makes clear that his rhetoric is dictated by the neoconservatives, effectively the political party of the military-industrial complex, for which H.R. McMaster and John Kelly are its most promising investments and, too, the doctrine of permanent war as the gun-sight aimed at the emerging bloc of Russia, China, Iran and Venezuela, among others.

OPINION: Variations on Trump and Venezuela

All of them weighty players located over important energy and mineral resources which the military-industrial complex, the U.S. economy’s mainstay, needs to be able to keep going.

The military profile of the current U.S. administration means the strings pulling the unconventional warfare against Venezuela all start in the White House.

Trump’s aggressive, bellicose, uncouth tone is also an expression and a symptom of the desperation of an immense apparatus of accumulation crying out for help to ensure its long-term survival. As the writer known as The Saker notes, the neoconservatives represent “a hegemonic tendency within Wall Street, the White House, Congress, the Pentagon, the mainstream news media, and their doctrinal program, the Project for a New American Century and the doctrine of Full Spectrum Dominance are navigational charts projecting global exceptionalism, a hyper-warlike agenda and total, absolute deregulation of Wall Street and the Federal Reserve”

Too much is at stake and Venezuela, being part of “the U.S. hemisphere” is the safest bet.

Nikki Haley Places Her Bets – Is the Solution Military?

Since military officers now control U.S. foreign policy, the logic they apply to geopolitics is preeminently military too. The “national priorities” of the United States as a nation (or what remains of it) are marginalized in the medium term, being substituted by “military priorities” devoted mainly to the methods of making war and very little to how to administer what follows.

The three supreme military chiefs, however, have focused on tasks well beyond bringing some “discipline” to the White House. Their tentacles stretch into the Department of State, to the point of installing a parallel Secretary of State, to the detriment of Rex Tillerson. This individual is a spokesperson for the hyper-warlike agenda of the chiefs at the center of government. She is Nikki Haley, ex-Governor of South Carolina, someone inexpert on foreign policy issues.

The neoconservative magazine the National Review hits the nail on the head with regard to these recent changes and this spokesperson tries to simplistically characterize a whole emerging bloc of countries via a single siege agenda, “Haley has become the leading American voice for human rights and against tyranny.”

Haley is the perfect ventriloquist’s dummy to undermine Rex Tillerson’s State Department and unify the foreign policy agenda from the US pulpit at the United Nations. Philip Giraldi, writing in the American Conservative media outlet asserts that Haley not only works independently of Donald Trump but, “is firmly in the neocon camp, receiving praise from Senators like South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham and from the Murdoch media.”

Another dangerous development behind the scenes is that, during the Colombian President’s visit to Washington, Senator Lindsey Graham offered military arms and support to Juan Manuel Santos in the event of armed conflict with Venezuela. Haley too was at the dinner conspiracy held by Trump in New York last September 18th accompanied by the same General Kelly who, in 2015, made clear his intention to invade Venezuela on “humanitarian” grounds.

Symbolic Framework, Exceptionalism and Maneuvers to Wreck Dialogue

The political dialogue begun in the Dominican Republic as a result of the National Constituent Assembly has provoked a series of actions to wreck it.

The New York dinner’s main course were the phony hearings by Luis Almagro of the OAS with NGOs and corrupt Venezuelans protected by the U.S., in coordination with Zeid Al Hussein, UN High commissioner for Human Rights, aimed at paving the way to send Nicolas Maduro to the International Criminal Court for “crimes against humanity.”

A few days beforehand, they tightened the screws of the financial blockade against CITGO, PDVSA’s subsidiary in the US, curtailing its lines of credit so as to cut its profits and the repatriation of dividends back to Venezuela, even outlawing the Treasury Department’s own licenses following Trump’s executive order. Likewise, tons of food and medicines are unable to enter Venezuela because US banks, like Citibank, will not process payments from importers.

RELATED: Standoff in Venezuela

Haley not only has close relations with Zeid, she also seeks from her U.N. post, via various means of extortion evident from last April right up until last July to force UN agencies, the OAS and regional “partners” of the ad hoc Lima Declaration group of countries, as well as internal Venezuelan opposition figures, to strengthen the financial and diplomatic ring fence around Venezuela, as a response to the talks in the Dominican Republic, an initiative supported by the UN, by governments of the European Union and by some regional governments acting as mediators.

The National Review article already mentioned, also makes clear what Haley is playing at within the U.N., “She is someone who is prepared to publicly pressure corrupt and ineffective U.N. agencies such as the Human Rights Council for their hypocrisy and anti-Semitism, while reaffirming the U.S. alliance with Israel in a way that is normally the business of the Secretary of State.”

From the Human Rights Council, the Haley-Zeid duo have reasserted their determination to ensure Venezuela’s isolation. The different means employed run from building a case against President Maduro in the International Criminal Court to the feint at activating the Palermo Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. They form part of a recipe that apart from never getting a solid result has also failed to alter the course of world geopolitics and should be seen as an effort to carry existing sanctions to a new, more delicate level.

The U.N. General Assembly opened with a hyper-warlike speech from Donald Trump and a meeting of the foreign ministers of the Lima Declaration group of countries and constitutes a golden opportunity to take new steps to further the interventionist agenda, clearing the way to take the “Venezuelan problem” to the U.N.’s highest level, the Security Council, just as was done on Libya and Syria before.

While parallel coercive criminal measures are activated against the Chavista leadership, that route is still strewn with obstacles as, too, is the placing Venezuela as a permanent issue before the UN Security Council. The pieces in place on the chess board at the moment suggest that the most feasible option in the short term is to consolidate the case arguing that Venezuela is a failed State, using the corporate media, U.N. agencies and the U.S. Congress to justify more aggressive unilateral action in the economic and financial sphere.

Beyond what appearances and public rhetoric suggest, calibrating objectives against Venezuela requires the U.S. to get around the roadblocks of the traditional multilateral institutions, or at least to combine them with informal structures like the Lima Declaration group so as to free itself of the restrictions of international law and ultimately to take the law into their own hands.

The case of Syria serves as an example of how even after ignoring international law to invade a country via unconventional means, future hybrid wars need still more flexible global institutions, deregulated, expeditious, stripped of control by Nation States, erasing military, diplomatic and political frontiers within a given theater of operations.

Without that state of affairs being yet fully developed and despite the U.N. being an institution that has served U.S. geostrategic interests very well, nothing could prevent Syria’s authorities using the U.N. to ironclad the talks and negotiations in Astana. Across the Atlantic, Venezuela has received support from U.N. Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, and from the Human Rights Council.

That explains the reason for Nikki Haley’s “recommendations” to reform the UN, broached in the run-up to this year’s General Assembly, namely, to dismantle the agencies that block or criticize the exceptionalist agenda of the US, with special attention to UN bodies where Venezuela, Russia, China, Iran and Syria exercise key influence.

A Developing Conclusion

While U.S. political strategy defines itself more sharply, both for the players and interests of the U.S. military-industrial complex in the background and also in terms of the objectives pursued in relation to Venezuela in the current context, the content Trump’s U.N. speech should neither be ignored nor taken lightly.

The symbolic frame (of military design) in which they are trying, for now, to set up Venezuela before the world’s most important political forum is that, in Venezuela, no political solution is possible, only a military one. Descriptions like “narco-State” and “dictatorship” express the kinds of narrative by means of which they seek to hide that Venezuela ended a violent political cycle by means of a Constituent electoral process and that in less than a month’s time regional elections will be held with the participation of the political opposition and, too, that talks are in progress with anti-government political players so as to stabilize the country economically against domestic and foreign aggression.

RELATED: VenezuelaRejects Imposition of Sanctions by Canada

None of that figured in Trump’s speech to the U.N. The three military chiefs, who are the real U.S. government now, up the ante trying to pressure partner countries and neutral countries among the world’s nations to accompany their anti-political violent agenda against Venezuela. They do so in all the multilateral bodies where they have influence.

Among themselves, refusal to recognize the Venezuelan State and breaking it, have become points of honor. No mechanism of negotiation and political stabilization, either via elections or dialog, alters their stance, unless it means a defeat for Chavismo. This is not only on account of the war they want to inflict on Venezuela out of their own basic economic need, but also because the premise from which their financial blockade and diplomatic siege starts is based on regarding as illegitimate any political scenario that recognizes Chavismo as Venezuela’s government.

Behind the fetish of “restoring democracy” mentioned by Trump in relation to Venezuela, lies no other policy. His very tone verged on a virtual declaration of war. The multiple fronts the US has opened up around the world using that same narrative, transformed into devastating wars, are clear evidence of that.

Immediately, Venezuela still has the same president and is bidding to overcome its economic challenges by broadening its relations with Russia, China and Iran in the framework of a global financial and economic megaproject which threatens dollar hegemony along with the trade rules and financial institutions that support it. Trump’s aggressive outburst is also symptomatic of how Venezuela has responded to his sanctions and of how highly sensitive it is in geostrategic terms to engage with a financial architecture beyond US control.

In the meantime, Nikki Haley will continue attacking Venezuela, Russia, Iran and North Korea, while H.R. McMaster and John Kelly operate behind the scenes manipulating their ventriloquist’s dummy from South Carolina. The so-called “Axis of Evil,” none of whose Presidents’ took part in the event, thus clearly downplaying the importance of the UN for Presidents Putin, Xi Jinping, Maduro and Rouhani, emerged strengthened by Trump’s disastrous performance. This has placed the US in a weak political position, incapable of offering a foreign policy generating trust and confidence among the world’s nations.

Along with all this, Trump is waiting to make another speech written for him by the very people who took over from him a few months ago.

And there is nothing more dangerous than a group of frustrated, heavily armed war criminals.


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