My writing cost me a friend this week. It happens. Not often, but it always hurts. Then I remind myself that the world does not throw itself at the feet of those who write as I do. I pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again.
The topic was Venezuela, where parallels with Syria – another graveyard for friendships lost – are striking. Russian intervention in Syria broke the nice little rhythm Washington et al had going in the middle east to the ever popular tune of Human-Rights.1 So too does Sino-Russian gauntlet throwing over Venezuela make this latest attempt, at Washington sponsored regime change, different from the scores of others in Latin America alone.
I see both as indicative of a wider shift in global power, a shift I welcome since US hegemony in a world of post-USSR unipolararity has delivered one nightmare after another. But I also see a world more dangerous than ever as a result. I know of no precedent for a superpower sitting back as its economic strength – in this case fiscal/military clout premised on dollar hegemony and an arms-spend dwarfing that of all other nations2 – ebbs slowly away; in this instance to Eurasia. The December arrival of Russian warplanes in Caracas, and a string of nations led by China and Russia refusing to go along with this latest chapter in the lengthy tome of America’s “pro democracy” charades, make it incumbent on us all to get up to speed on Venezuela.
But how? Glad you asked. Here are three single session reads relevant to the current crisis.
Shortest of the three is from Global Research, a first rate go-to for counter views that are simple without being simplistic. If you’re looking for BBC style ‘balance’ the first three words of its title, Hands off Venezuela, may put you off. The next four, Divided UN Security Council, give a clue as to what follows: the response, at a UN Emergency Meeting of January 26, by Venezuela Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza to the words of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Oddly enough, the Guardian did not cover that response.
My next read is longer. A review by Greg Grandlin of the Hugo Chavez autobiography, Down From the Mountain, London Review of Books ran it in June 2017. It demands at least half an hour but I recommend it for its sidestepping of the usual attitudinal bipolarity re figures demonised by Washington. While Grandlin hasn’t a good word to say about Washington – which is fine by me – he avoids Chavista adulation. Instead we get a sympathetic but critical appraisal, tucked into an efficient resume of modern Venezuelan history, with BTL comments of a high enough standard to supply their own ‘balance’.3
(BTW, internationalists do not defend the imperialised world’s Assads, Gaddafis and Maduros because they think the sun shines from their arses. Maybe it does; probably it doesn’t. They do so through unwavering recognition that imperialism at large, USA in particular, are always the biggest part of the problem, never part of the solution.)
Read three, like read two, combines a focus on one man with a useful resume of recent history in Venezuela, while shining a powerful beam on Washington’s regime change MO. The man in this case is Juan – Juan Who? – Guaidó, brazenly anointed by Washington – imagine Russia trying such a stunt! – as the new president of Venezuela. The Making of Juan Guaidó appears on Max Blumenthal’s Gray Zone, and features factual reportage by Dan Cohen with editing by Blumenthal. Not enough editing if you ask me. The piece does turn into a list in the second half but that’s me nitpicking. This is still an incredibly valuable read on CIA skullduggery and the bigging up of Washpliant non entities, of whom Juan Guaidó is the latest in a very long line.
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- Allow me a little leeway here, a little nuance. The attempt to overthrow Assad was not All About Oil or even Oil Pipelines but, overly reductive as those readings are, the fairy tale our corporate media are by their silence peddling – This Has Nothing To Do With Oil – is risible and intelligence insulting.
- For reasons outside my scope here, America’s fiscal hegemony, military supremacy and titanic debt are tightly interlinked. Yanis – Global Minotaur – Varoufakis is good on this.
- I’ve twice wrapped balance in inverted commas. That’s on account of my suspicion of the word in this context. In the slit window purview of liberal media, balance is struck by interviewing a Tory and a Labour ‘moderate’ on Topic of the Hour. But if, with those media blinkers removed, we see a world of profit-led madness, such balance is akin to meticulously presenting the cases for and against slavery, child abuse or Hitler.
- I read the first half thoroughly then skimmed the rest, stopping every now and then to follow some of the links. Invaluable, but a bit of a telephone directory in places.