Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 25, 2019

Venezuela - Trump's Coup Plan Has Big Flaws

The U.S. led coup attempt against the government of Venezuela under President Maduro is based on a plan that is similar to this one (vid).


While U.S. coup plotting against Venezuela goes back to at least 1998 when the deceased President Chavez won his first election, the actual planning for this coup attempt was only done during the last two month. There are many holes in the plan and it involves a lot of wishful thinking. That might give the Maduro government openings to deflect the attack.

More likely though the insufficient planning, based on false perceptions of the situation on the ground, will lead to demands for escalation and mission creep. Venezuela must thus immediately prepare for the worst.

Today U.S. media give some insight into the decision making before the coup attempt. The Wall Street Journal headline makes it clear that the U.S. is 100% responsible for it:

Pence Pledged U.S. Backing Before Venezuela Opposition Leader’s Move
Trump administration’s secret plan pledging support for opposition leader Juan Guaidó was preconceived and tightly coordinated

The night before Juan Guaidó declared himself interim president of Venezuela, the opposition leader received a phone call from Vice President Mike Pence.

Mr. Pence pledged that the U.S. would back Mr. Guaidó if he seized the reins of government from Nicolás Maduro by invoking a clause in the South American country’s constitution, a senior administration official said.

That late-night call set in motion a plan that had been developed in secret over the preceding several weeks, accompanied by talks between U.S. officials, allies, lawmakers and key Venezuelan opposition figures, including Mr. Guaidó himself.

The leading figures were Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Pompeo and Senator Marco Rubio as well as hawks in in the National Security Council.

A decisive moment came a week later in a White House meeting Jan. 22, the eve of protests in Venezuela, when Mr. Rubio along with Sen. Rick Scott and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, both Republicans from Florida, were called to a White House meeting with Mr. Trump, Vice President Pence and others.
Other officials who met that day at the White House included Messrs. Pompeo and Bolton, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who presented Mr. Trump with options for recognizing Mr. Guaidó.

Mr. Trump decided to do it. Mr. Pence, who wasn’t at that meeting, placed his phone call to Mr. Guaidó to tell him, “If the National Assembly invoked Article 233 the following day, the president would back him,” the senior administration official said.

Trump himself is only interested in Venezuela's oil reserves, which are the largest of the world:

While the developments this week surprised many onlookers, Mr. Trump had long viewed Venezuela as one of his top-three foreign policy priorities, including Iran and North Korea.
Mr. Trump requested a briefing on Venezuela in his second day in office, often speaking to his team about the suffering of Venezuelan people and the country’s immense potential to become a rich nation through its oil reserves, ...

Before the U.S. attack on Libya Trump said (vid) that the U.S. should demand 50% of the oil profits from the 'rebels' it hoped to put into place: "[They] should have said: We'll help you but we want 50% of your oil." I likely requested a similar deal from Guaidó.

It is interesting that neither the Pentagon nor the Justice Department were involved in the planing of the coup attempt. They could have pointed out the obvious flaws.

Article 233 of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (pdf) is not a valid legal basis for Guaidó himself or for the Venezuelan National Assembly to declare him president. It regulates the procedures in the case that the elected or sitting president "becomes permanently unavailable" which Maduro is obviously not. To cite Article 233 for claiming the presidency is a scam that no court will accept.

The White House planning also seem to go no further than the current stage. This for example is extremely wishful thinking:

“The U.S. believes the rank-and-file military are most likely with the opposition,” the senior administration official said. “The most significant development in the last 24 hours has been that the [Venezuelan] military has stayed in its barracks. And Maduro hasn’t ordered them to squash the protests possibly because he’s unsure they would follow his orders and doesn’t want to test that.

This is delusional. The opposition protests were so far smaller and less violent that those in 2016. Even during those riots the military stayed in the barracks not because Maduro is afraid of it but because it plays no role in the internal security of Venezuela.

To confront rioting protestors is the job of the local police and the National Guard of Venezuela which "can serve as gendarmerie, perform civil defense roles, or serve as a reserve light infantry force." While the National Guard is formally a military service it has its own line of command. Since 2002 Chavez and then Maduro have cleaned up the military. It has also received a number of perks. Many nationalized companies are led by (former) military officers. To base a plan for a coup on an unfounded hope of military support is crazy.

The White House seems at a loss at what to do next:

Much remains to be sorted out, including the U.S. determination that Mr. Guaidó represents the lawful government and is entitled to all revenues.

If that legal determination is made, it will soon be tested in court. As the flawed quoting of article 233 as a basis for Guaidó's self declaration as president is not legally valid, any such determination will be flawed. That the administration has not thought of this before it acted is quite curious.

The Washington Post goes deeper into the obvious flaws of the plan:

With risks ahead, Trump administration pins hopes on Venezuela’s opposition

“I think that speaks for itself,” national security adviser John Bolton said when asked Thursday what Trump meant by saying “all options” are available to him.

The administration is betting that it will not need to spell it out further. But it was unclear whether it has fully mapped out a strategy in the event that President Nicolás Maduro refuses to budge, serious violence erupts or foreign supporters of Maduro’s government — including Russia and Turkey — decide to intervene on his behalf.

For now, the hope is to use the newly declared interim government as a tool to deny Maduro the oil revenue from the United States that provides Venezuela virtually all of its incoming cash, current and former U.S. officials said.
“What we’re focusing on today is disconnecting the illegitimate Maduro regime from the source of its revenues. We think consistent with our recognition of Juan Guaidó as the constitutional interim president of Venezuela that those revenues should go to the legitimate government,” Bolton said.

“It’s very complicated. We’re looking at a lot of different things we have to do, but that’s in the process,” he said.

If the U.S. stops payment for oil to the Maduro government, Venezuela will obviously stop shipping oil to the States. Several large Gulf Coast refineries are geared specifically to that heavy type of oil. They will have to stop working and gas prices in the U.S. will increase. One wonders how Trump's voters will like that.

The administration also wants to increase sanctions on Venezuela but the existing ones are already causing the people pain while they have little effect on the government.

The plan is also based on the hope that the dude that came up in Venezuela can actually do something:

The U.S. pressure campaign is aimed partly at convincing Maduro that he cannot continue to govern, and partly at building up Guaidó.

“We have been engaged with the same strategy: to build international pressure, help organize the internal opposition and push for a peaceful restoration of democracy. But that internal piece was missing,” the official said. “He was the piece we needed for our strategy to be coherent and complete.”

But what does Guaidó have? Does he have any office, any public building, any army? Does he controls the ports, the custom offices and the central bank? Even in Venezuela few knew him. How many really committed followers does he have? There are some 8-9 million followers of the Bolivarian movement in Venezuela. These are poor people. Many of them own what they have to the socialist government. They will fight against an illegitimate coup. What means does the U.S. supported guy have to suppress them?

Notes the Post:

The Trump administration hopes Venezuela’s armed forces switch allegiances, but there is no clear road map for what Trump would do if that does not happen, or if blood is spilled.

The Post also confirms that the U.S. military was not involved in the planning even as the logical consequence of the coup attempt is likely a war:

“It’s kind of a giveaway, that [the Defense Department] or Southcom was not part of this process or wasn’t given a heads-up,” said one former senior administration official.

“One could argue that we are on, if not an inevitable path, certainly a path toward intervention because of the dramatic nature of what we’ve done,” the former official said. “Telling a sitting president he is no longer president and recognizing somebody else. Next question: Okay, what comes next? To what extent are we actually prepared to continue to march down this road?”

That's the $64,000 question.

My impression is that Trump was scammed. It was long evident that he gives little attention to details and does not think things through. Most likely Bolton, Pompeo and Rubio presented him with a three step plan:

Phase 1. Support the self declared president Guaidó; Phase 2: ... (wishful thinking) ...; Phase 3: Take half of their oil!

Trump accepted the plan without asking how phase 2 might really play out. I doubt that he knew that it will likely lead to higher gas prices. Nor do I think that he knew that it will likely require a military escalation up to a major war that will take years to finish. He would have known that both will cost him dearly during the next election.

This is similar to Trump's other genius plan that now leads to the closing of U.S. airports. Phase 1 of that plan was to shutdown the U.S. government. Phase 2 foresaw that the Democrats give him money. Phase 3 was the Great Wall on the southern border that would help him to get reelected. That plan also failed because of wishful thinking. It also costs Trump at the polls.

But Trump has now committed himself to both poorly laid out plans and it will be extremely difficult for him to pull back from them. While he may still wiggle out of the domestic embarrassment over his wall, it will be much more difficult to do that on the international stage where he asked many other nations for their support. He is now on the spot and has no decent moves to make. Higher gas prices and a military escalation go against his election promises. His voters will not like either.

Bolton and Pompeo are both experienced politicians and bureaucrats. They likely knew that their plan was deeply flawed and would require much more than Trump would normally commit to. My hunch is that the soon coming mission creep was build into their plan, but that they did not reveal that.

Trump just ruined his presidency by falling for their scheme. How long will it take him to understand that?

Posted by b on January 25, 2019 at 20:09 UTC | Permalink

« previous page

Might be of interest. The title of the article does raise a good question.

Posted by: Ninel | Jan 26 2019 21:44 utc | 201

Ninel | Jan 26, 2019 4:44:52 PM | 201

Korybko up to his usual bullshit! I don't know why GR publishes this crap.

He answers your question thus:

The prevailing Alt-Media narrative that Washington wants to impose a pro-US puppet regime on Venezuela in order to control all of the country’s oil doesn’t make much sense when considering that it already buys 41% of the Bolivarian Republic’s total exports, meaning that another more nuanced explanation needs to be offered in order to account for this narrative double-think.

Korybko and his fatuous Alt-media! Of course it's about more than oil but I think he's some kind 5th column, after all he works for some BS Beltway 'think tank'.

Nuanced indeed!

Posted by: William Bowles | Jan 26 2019 22:07 utc | 202


Well one reason is Venezuela is only producing 1/3 or less of its capacity. US getting a lot less oil from them than before

With US in control of Venezuela they can more easily msnipulate the market by ramping up production or shutting it down. Also, they can get a better price and hide the profits offshore to fund covert operations.

Lots of non oil benefits too. Get them to buy more weapons by cutting social benefits, keeping China and Russia out of their markets, higher drug prices for Big Pharma, more agriculture sales for Big Agra, keep trade in USD, etc

Not saying I agree with this blatant intereference in a country which poses no threat to anyone, but there it is

Posted by: Pft | Jan 26 2019 22:07 utc | 203


"The orgy of amazingly overt international law breaking is stunning to observe which I hope this incident will prove to be its climax."

I heartily endorse the excellent observation from Craig Murray, and would suggest so far in my reading of this page of b's commentary that your observation quoted above has been swishing about in my own mind, as it particularly relates to the actions of our own US Executive branch. For an oldie like me, midpoint in the orgy came when Bush Two stole the 2000 election, and was not sufficiently opposed by Al Gore. I voted for neither, but then and there US election theft was laid bare for all the world to see, and we have gone downhill ever since.

Some have attempted to make light of this latest affront, or to say, well, Pence isn't in it, but hey, no, he is! So I was reminded of the situation pending redress that occurred in 2000, and heaven help us, Nancy is next. I would love to be able to say here, ah, Trump is falling on his sword; he doesn't want to be President any longer and like Sampson he is doing his best to take the temple down with him. That's my Polyanna soul talking. I don't really think this is his intention, though it may very well be the result. And I'm sure for his own safety's sake he could never admit such intent, so I'll just tuck that away for now; you didn't hear me say it.

As Obama used to say, make no mistake. They are all headed for a reckoning.

Posted by: juliania | Jan 26 2019 22:09 utc | 204

Once more: Oil is only part of the equation, surely that should be obvious by now? It's about hegemony, Empire, domination, IMPERIALISM!

Dont you guys take in any of the information here? It's like you treat the debate as a pastime, but then maybe it is?

Posted by: William Bowles | Jan 26 2019 22:23 utc | 205

Here we go, what a bastard:

Venezuela Defense Attaché to Washington Recognizes Guaido as President

Posted by: Zanon | Jan 26 2019 22:31 utc | 206

juliania @204--

I worked & voted for Nader in 2000 and agreed with Vincent Bugliosi's argument in his The Betrayal of America: How The Supreme Court Undermined the Constitution and Chose Our President. Unfortunately, my historical research shows the public lost control of the federal government during WW2 and is far removed from regaining control, although there's an effort to wrest back control of the Legislative that will take a tremendous effort and at least two more election cycles to get rid of the corrupt senators.

I once entertained your thought about Trump bringing down the Temple, but I stowed it away as it ought to be clear now that Trump represents one of the Deep State factions. Hope all's well with you and your Winter isn't too harsh!

Posted by: karlof1 | Jan 26 2019 22:49 utc | 207

Excellent reporting, B! Unlike Syria or Ukraine, Venezuela seems to be some kind of black box. I wouldn't know where to get reliable info about them from.

"Dictators" aren't what they used to be. Maduro's government should consider any recognition of Guaido as pres as a declaration of war and nothing less. Break off diplomatic relations. What's the point of having them, anyway? How many Venezuelans are there to take care of in the US, UK, France? What does Venezuela expect to gain from Mr-Nice-Guy relations with the Virtuous West?

My apologies to all you US Americans here, but the embassy staff in Caracas should be given the boot. Right in public, paraded to the airport or some border checkpoint. Why they haven't cracked down on the US embassy there and closed it many years ago is beyond me. Guaido too should be expelled immediately.

Regarding the US attack as such plus the dispossession of Venezuela of its London gold by the British - Maduro should order the navy to seize a couple of the giant cruise ships that travel in the Caribbean. The British are very fond of Caribbean cruises. A lot of the companies offering those cruises are headquartered in the US. Barbados, Curacao, Aruba, those are all popular ports of call close to Venezuela. It's do-able and British and US interests would be well hurt. I read that the big modern cruise ships cost way beyond 1 billion. You need to make these f*ckers in Washington, London etc. FEEL the severity of their actions.

Posted by: Scotch Bingeington | Jan 26 2019 23:05 utc | 208

Isn't control/theft of the largest oil reserves in the world better than buying 41% of Venezuela's exports?

Posted by: spudski | Jan 26 2019 23:15 utc | 209

Isn't control/theft of the largest oil reserves in the world better than buying 41% of Venezuela's exports?

Posted by: spudski | Jan 26, 2019 6:15:01 PM | 209

Just was going to point the same. Of course, it is always better getting something for free than buying it. Not to mention how they could manipulate prices by controlling this largest oil reserves, the same way they control the flow of dollars in the market, with which they blackmail everybody out there.

It should be a matter of national security for all of us to avoid that the US take over of these reserves. As Mr.Nebenzia has pointed out at the UNSC meeting segment about Venezuela ( he intervenes in the first turn...), it is this move by the US who poses the biggest threat to security and peace.

Posted by: Sasha | Jan 26 2019 23:40 utc | 210

"Big News!"

10h Breaking News:
India Refuses to Recognise US appointed Fake President of Venezuela.
India to buy Venezuelan crude and pay in rupees, not US dollars.
India will export much needed rice and medicines to Venezuela.

comment in Venezuela article at:

This is some of the best news I've seen so far in this horrific US clusterfrack.

Posted by: AntiSpin | Jan 27 2019 0:32 utc | 211

@Posted by: Sasha | Jan 26, 2019 6:40:42 PM | 210

Well, Mr. Nebenzia made his main points at 1:04 and 1:52 of debate and Mr. Arreaza at 1:56:27 of it.

Posted by: Sasha | Jan 27 2019 0:55 utc | 212


Honored to know that you worked for Nader. It's my one vote I continue to be proud of! He was treated so badly in that campaign, and after - a very good man.

We've had a lot of snow - it was hard but will be good - hopefully like a lot of things!

Posted by: juliania | Jan 27 2019 1:02 utc | 213

"He is now on the spot and has no decent moves to make. Higher gas prices and a military escalation go against his election promises. His voters will not like either."

"Trump just ruined his presidency by falling for their scheme."

If this escalates even a little, you are absolutely right. He was a shoo-in -- all he had to do was keep on shouting 'fake news' -- until he did something really really stupid, and everyone could see it for what it was.

Posted by: Nick Baam | Jan 27 2019 1:11 utc | 214

Trump went along because he's a short attention span dummy.

Why did the Lima group go along with it?
Are Trudeau and Bolsonaro also a little slow on the uptake? Did Bolton do a conference call and they went along without asking questions?

Posted by: batfly | Jan 27 2019 3:04 utc | 215

Venezuela has backtracked on the US embassy expulsions...

"Venezuela’s government has backtracked on an order that gave U.S. Embassy personnel 72 hours to leave the country.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry said that it is now negotiating the establishment of a U.S. Interests Office in Venezuela and will allow U.S. Embassy personnel to remain in the country while talks take place."

Posted by: dh | Jan 27 2019 3:26 utc | 216

@dh 126

It appears that Maduro is ragging the puck (playing for time) and doing everything he can to make the US look like the bad guys to the rest of the world...hopefully this coup will lose momentum before the US decides that military involvement is needed.

Posted by: Lavrenty | Jan 27 2019 3:39 utc | 217

I wondered why Maduro had not arrested Guiado. The reality is that the more that guy speaks, the less attractive he becomes. His endorsement of privatizing PDVSA and his desire to take out a loan from the IMF will not be attractive to most Venezuelans. He is discrediting himself and making clear that he is not a savior but just another rich, neoliberal US boot licker.

Airplane tracker had a number of unidentified Russian Federation planes arriving in Venezuela. Reuters claims Russia mercenaries are protecting Maduro. I bet Russia sent anti coup specialists to help the Venezuelan gov as well.

The news that Indian will support the democratically elected gov (maduro) is good. The EU are cowards as usual.

Posted by: alaric | Jan 27 2019 4:07 utc | 218

I don't know if these sources have been mentioned but they are my go to for info about Venezuela. By the way, I had family there (they moved to Europe 6 months ago) and have been there say 6 times but not since Chavez took over. The right wing ("opposition") are frankly disgusting. They are also pretty inept and they have a lot to lose which makes them not the best fighters should this escalate to that.

Abby Martin and have done some good reporting on this too.

Posted by: alaric | Jan 27 2019 4:12 utc | 219

@216 dh

This feels exactly like the move Putin would have made. If both sides back away from a deadline that the US foolishly committed itself to - painting itself into a corner with no way out - then Maduro has given the US a way to save face while retreating.

Politico can say that Venezuela has "backtracked" but the fact is that it is the US again that overreached with its Pompeo rhetoric, and that is actually backing down. If the US diplomats had overstayed that deadline, they would have no leg to stand on whatsoever - no court in the world could have helped them, or saved those diplomats from something like house arrest at the very mildest. Venezuela acted totally decisively and took the high ground immediately, and has kept it. This is how the free world will assess the situation. The initiative frankly remains with Venezuela here.

With this 30 day extension in order to talk, Maduro has given Trump the way to declare victory and retreat. And the fact that the US has taken the offer means it wants to back down. Talking is always better than action, and the US always loses - doesn't know how to win - in talking, as Russia has proven clearly in recent years.

I would like to know more about the "US Interests" office that Venezuela will talk about allowing - this has the tiniest feel of the Syria de-confliction zones, where all parties were required to declare themselves or be fair game for military action. If the advice of Russia is figuring in these moves, we will see the gradual deadlocking of US activities in the country, and it will happen gradually, without the US realizing at first how strongly it is being constrained. Softee, softee, and Venezuela may yet pull the teeth of this crazed monkey.

Of course there will be much covert activity, and it's not over yet. But it seems like the pinnacle of escalation has been passed. If so, this completely supports b's view of "no Phase 2" in the US plan, spelled out above in this article.

Posted by: Grieved | Jan 27 2019 4:52 utc | 220

Scott Bingeington @ 208:

Telesur (run by the Venezuelan government) is a useful site for current news though you may need to use Google Translate if you don't understand Spanish:

Another useful site is

Posted by: Jen | Jan 27 2019 5:04 utc | 221

Caracas Reporter [Lucas Koerner] Says: ‘US Plot in Venezuela failing’

Interesting part is where the RT Anerica news anchor and Koerner discuss why the Venezuelan public continues to support Maduro despite his lacklustre leadership and apparent failed policies. Koerner says that though Venezuelans despise Maduro, they despise the opposition even more. No mention is made of US economic sanctions against the country or the manipulation of oil prices over the last two years that drove Venezuela to the wall. No mention either of food hoarding or selling food to Colombia by food importers (owned by companies opposed to Maduro's government) aimed at escalating food prices and goading the poor into revolting against Maduro.

Posted by: Jen | Jan 27 2019 5:16 utc | 222

@ Jen and others

Here is the English version TeleSUR web site link

Posted by: psychohistorian | Jan 27 2019 5:35 utc | 223

William Bowles 205

Oil is required by Trumps US for future hegemony, Empire, domination, IMPERIALISM!. Without oil, the main part of Trump's election promises cannot be achieved.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Jan 27 2019 5:43 utc | 224

There are signs that some sections of the media are skeptical of, and far from committed to, the US Narrative. Al Jazeera have come right out and called bullshit on the story and backed up their call with historical evidence. DW is taking a scrupulously 'unbiased' approach by balancing EVERY pro-coup assertion with the riposte from the anti-coup crowd.

Recent surveys of Public Opinion in Oz on the subject of Fake News have revealed that more than half of Oz's news consumers regard the MSM as consistent purveyors of fake news AND non-news. Oz isn't Mars, and doesn't exist in a vacuum so it's (almost) safe to assume that the views expressed in Oz are not unique to Oz.

The US Venezuela narrative is hard for decent, moral people to swallow and there are indications that some media players have decided to hedge their bets by giving their own credibility (and survival) a higher priority than the daydreams of the Powers That Be.
P.S, don't bother reminding me that it's too early to draw a firm conclusion...

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jan 27 2019 6:12 utc | 225

After reading Grieved's comment on the thirty day extension I went reading more about it and agree that it is indicative of a magic thirty day geo-political spinning plate with little "upfront cost" and plenty of geo-political posturing potential.

With the Pompeo call for nation line up of FOR or AGAINST the empire anointed tin pot dictator for Venezuela it seems like a political temperature check for assessing how far they can project that backing.......just saying.

In thirty days the US federal government could be shut down again and may have other priorities than invading Venezuela at that time. Then again, with the government shut down, what better time to launch aggressive action against a country that represents a threat to ongoing global empire.

NOTe: I spilled fluid on the upper left of my keyboard and the number three key (and uppercase pound sign) does not work along with the uppercase "e" as I discovered starting this note. Who knows what I might have to do until I get a replacement $@&&^^%!!! It may dry out but not likely....sigh

Posted by: psychohistorian | Jan 27 2019 6:46 utc | 226

@220 Grieved. Anything that delays action for 30 days is disaster for Guiado.

Even if we accept (why?) Guild's argument that Maduro's election was "illegitimate" (how so?), he faces this problem: article 233 clearly states that he can assume the role of President for... 30 days.

Not a moment later. He can have the gig for 30 days, and no more.

If this crisis goes for longer than 30 days and Guiado is still claiming to be President then all his claims to legitimacy fail.

He becomes, indisputably, a coup-leader. Nothing more. No less.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Jan 27 2019 7:05 utc | 227

thanks for the comments folks.. i appreciate the update on all this...

kadath, the boe really is a rip off artist of the highest order with regard to venezualas gold.. i had originally thought as you - they ought to try guaido for treason.. but it does seem like it is better letting him talk as he will lose whatever momentum he might have gotten in this little exercise that he and the usa have going..

Posted by: james | Jan 27 2019 7:38 utc | 228

@228 James I think the most serious problem that Guaido faces is that it must be patently obvious to every Venezuelan that the "legal" basis for his self-declaration is manifestly absurd.

So even if Maduro is overthrown there will be no legitimacy for Guaido's own claim to the Presidency.

Supporting him is therefore akin to deliberately choose to trash the Constitution for his singular benefit, and there must be suspicion amongst the populace about there that ends.

Death squads?
Arbitrary arrest?

You don't have to like Maduro to fear where supporting Guaido will lead them.

Plus there is the not-inconsiderable fact that he appears to be a bit dim-witted.

Not unusual in a position, sure, but a bit of a problem when he is a dictator.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Jan 27 2019 8:27 utc | 229

Sorry, "politician", not "position".

Damn auto-correct.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Jan 27 2019 8:29 utc | 230

Sad that Maduro wont dare kicking the americans out, that is one of his biggest mistake yet of this crisis. Maduro think americans will stop now?

Posted by: Zanon | Jan 27 2019 8:44 utc | 231

@231 Zanon Why fall for such an obvious trap?

Cut the power to the compound. Roadblock every intersection leading to the compound.

But don't touch the diplomats, and talk talk talk with the Americans. Then offer to talk some more.

Run down the clock, aware that with every discussion you have with them you undermine their claim that Guaido is the *only* govt of Venezuela.

Softly, softly, catchy monkey....

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Jan 27 2019 9:25 utc | 232

john @ 200

I used the royal "we", allowed since I am King of Jack-asses.

Posted by: donkeytale | Jan 27 2019 12:56 utc | 233

Re: 227 & 228, Yeah, Right & James,

I agree that the US and their vassals thought that Maduro would fold within hours of the US announcements and that the Military remaining loyal to him and the Venezuela's Constitution was a big surprise an that the longer Maduro remains in office the weaker the US proxy government in exile become (when was the last time we heard about the US's & Turkey's "Syrian Interim government").

My concern is this, the US is chronically unable to abide by its' commitments (недоговороспособны "not-agreement-capable" as the Russians have said). is irrationally stubborn, and is obsessed with revenge for any slight, especially the most unforgivably crime of not utterly submitting to US diktat. The examples just roll off the tongue - the 60yr+ embargo on Cuba, the 35yr+ cold war with Iran, the 60yr+ of threatening North Korea, the 30+yrs it took the US to recognize the People's Republic of China. Combine all of this with the US's "new" (i.e. since the early 1990's) utter, utter contempt for the International Law system it basically created after World War 2 (yes, I know people will correctly note that the US has never uniformly obeyed international law, but I feel the events of the last 30 years are extreme even by US standards) - I don't just see how Venezuela could create a agreement with either the US or the US's puppets (like Guaido), that the US would not immediately betray or undermine (again look at all of the agreements and negotiations that the US had with Russia and China that it immediately broke). Russia and China are vastly more powerful than Venezuelan and more ways to push back in reprisal, yet the US still betrayed them. Even if Russia and China made a public, 100% commitment to defend Venezuelan, I doubt that would dissuade the US from perusing it's Regime change policy.

The current situation has all of the hallmarks of another decades long foreign policy of undeclared war (the US has already been try to overthrow the Venezuela government since 2000) like Syria, Libya or Iran. If the US is an unreliable partner (and I believe it is), then the only option for Venezuela is to oppose the US policy of elite capture (the US historically tends to bride elites into betraying their own countries) and that ultimately means that the law needs to be used against the elites that brazenly break the law at the behest of the US. How the law is used, is again, ultimately up to Maduro/Venezuelan government but if the US can not be trusted during negotiations, then Venezuela needs to make sure Venezuela elites who represent US interests can be trusted, if for no other reason than the fear of the consequences of brazenly breaking the law. As a foreign policy Realist, my personal fear is that the US will become an even more irrational actor on the world stage and will commit a truly breathtaking crime against another superpower (yes, China and Russia are both superpowers, the time has come to accept that and even Iran is a major power) which will start World War 3. what that crime could be, I couldn't say (a nuclear first strike? a conventional strike on Chinese or Russian territory? etc...) but everything the US has done over the last 20 odd years speaks of a Country in sharp decline (politically, socially, economically) that decided to adopt gangsterism as Foreign policy.

Posted by: Kadath | Jan 27 2019 13:27 utc | 234

The latest make work plan for Elliot Abrams.

Posted by: | Jan 27 2019 14:09 utc | 235

Maduro allows US diplomats to stay after expulsion order, but sets conditions

On Wednesday, Maduro ordered US diplomats to leave Venezuela within 72 hours after the Trump administration recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s interim president. The US snubbed the demand, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed President Maduro, who was sworn into his second term earlier in January, does not have the “legal authority to break diplomatic relations.”
Does Maduro really believe US care what he says and do?

Posted by: Zanon | Jan 27 2019 14:11 utc | 236

and #65 the White Helmets won an Oscar, thats gold pure gold.

Posted by: steve | Jan 27 2019 14:13 utc | 237

Just got to post #51 and someone posting using my name only with a capital A.

It is not me--


Posted by: arby | Jan 27 2019 14:35 utc | 238

Let's continue to take note that Venezuela is leading this play now, and the US is complying. It's necessary to look behind the rhetoric to see these actions.

Of course Venezueala doesn't expect the US to honor by lunchtime anything it agrees over breakfast, but that's not the point. The Russians knew this at Debaltsevo in Ukraine when NAF had the NATO troops locked in a death cauldron. The only way out for the west was to agree to the Minsk 2 document, which has locked the conflict in a very specific military gridlock for 4 years now. There's no way out of that arm-hold, and Russia can hold it forever.

I don't say that as a digression but as an illustration of the intelligence at work here. The Reuters story about Wagner mercenaries in Caracas was false, denied by Moscow, but the story of Russian tacticians advising Maduro is probably exactly correct. Russian generals commanded the battles in Syria and won them. Russian generals led NAF to the military superiority of the Donbass. We know how Putin advised Maduro to act, and he is acting completely as advised.

Venezuela has thrown nothing away - least of all kinetic energy - in this struggle. It holds the high ground and the action initiative. It has achieved a working dialog with the US. Both sides have their covert activities of course, but Venezuela is the home turf, a sovereign nation with the resources of the security state and its people completely alert to the invader's tricks.

The deadline has passed. Round One to Venezuela. The US blinked. In fact we see increasingly clearly now that, as with all the neocons, when Pompeo speaks, the US is already blinking.

Posted by: Grieved | Jan 27 2019 14:37 utc | 239

Maduro successfully evicts Americans from US Embassy

"Maduro issued an order to the U.S Embassy in Venezuela, that it must ‘evict’ and that U.S citizens must leave. Pretender to the presidency, Guaido, stated to the contrary that the U.S can and should stay. He issued the formal letter on National Assembly letterhead, and signed it ‘President of the Republic’. U.S officials initially recognized this letter as legitimate, and stated their intention to remain in the Bolivarian republic.

When Venezuelan officials reminded the U.S Embassy that not only was this contrary to law in theory, but that in practice their water and power could be shut-off instantaneously, the U.S began to reconsider its position, and staff began to return back to Washington D.C."

This may only apply to those US Embassy staff not part of the CIA coup. Some of the non-official-cover CIA officers may have taken refuge in embassies/consulates of the other puppet SA regimes.

Posted by: Yonatan | Jan 27 2019 14:45 utc | 240

@ 220, 227/8 etc.

Indeed it is a very Putin like move. Nothing wrong with making concessions if it makes your opponent look unreasonable. Keep the discussion going until they get bored with it.

Of course it's disappointing for those MOA posters who want to see blood in the streets.

Posted by: dh | Jan 27 2019 14:49 utc | 241


I disagree with you that China and Russia can't make a difference if they assume more responsibility in checking Empire hegemony. Look at what Russia accomplished in Syria! Russia scuttled the Empire's plans. The Empire has no where to turn with Russia there. Although, Israel is waging war on Iran in Syria and Russia must be more forceful in clipping Israel's wings. China and Russia can easily mess with the Empire's plans for Venezuela. To achieve a multi-polar world Russia and especially China have to go beyond economic strategy which China has excelled in, and exercise some hard diplomatic power, when necessary, military muscle. China has focused a lot on the economic, which is essential in deflecting the Empire's financial tyranny, but it has slacked off in its other responsibility as a global leader. These are the factors essential to securing global power and leadership: 1)WEALTH, 2)OIL & GAS RESOURCES, 3)TECHNOLOGY, 4)MILITARY AND 5)DIPLOMATIC SKILL. China has most of these, but it must step up to secure number 2. Therefore it must exercise 1, 4, and 5 to protect Venezuela and Iran before the Empire neutralizes them to its exclusive benefit. China is losing the ball in acquiring uncompromised sources of energy by not stepping up. Russia has its own energy sources but securing and investing in Venezuela and Iran's resources can return wealth in future, and wealth 1) is what Russia must secure. So Russia and China can play a fundamental role in Venezuela and Iran that will ensure they rise to and sustain superpower status necessary to check the Empire's hegemony.

Posted by: Circe | Jan 27 2019 14:50 utc | 242

@239 - more...

The way Putin advised Maduro to act in the phone call, by the way, is reminiscent of the way he advised Yanukovych at the time of the Maidan. Yanukovych didn't take Putin's advice, but fled from the nexus of control in Kiev, and the country. Thereby the Maidan, and Ukraine, was lost.

Maduro in contrast appears to be acting as advised. Not that I want to call Maduro someone who can't act on his own initiative, but the good advice of worldly friends - especially those whose Ministry of Defense has its own supercomputer to evaluate all contingencies - is always welcome, and to listen to such counsel is in fact the mark of a good leader.

Posted by: Grieved | Jan 27 2019 14:53 utc | 243

@243 I'm not sure that's a good comparison Grieved. Maduro is in a strong position long as he has the army behind him. Yanukovich was in imminent danger.

Posted by: dh | Jan 27 2019 14:59 utc | 244

William Bowles@205

"Its about hegemony, Empire, domination, IMPERIALISM!"

Would you care to elaborate on you understanding of neoliberal globalism - with links? The best analysis I have seen came from David Korten "When Corporations rule the world".

As for the oil angle, the economies of the world are run on hydrocarbons. Without this energy source most people would starve within a couple of years.

Posted by: Krollchem | Jan 27 2019 14:59 utc | 245

@245 "Without this energy source most people would starve within a couple of years."

And many more would go insane through immobility.

Posted by: dh | Jan 27 2019 15:08 utc | 246

@244 dh

True, but his danger increased as he fled - Spetsnaz choppers that were almost out of fuel had to scoop him off the coast and his bodyguards had already taken fire by then. There were resources for him to use in Kiev, or Putin would not have advised him to stay there and deal with the situation.

But sadly he simply wasn't the man for the hour. My prayer has been that Maduro is, and so far it seems to be the case. This is all that a country need ask for in times of danger.

Posted by: Grieved | Jan 27 2019 15:12 utc | 247

@247 We're getting a little off topic here but as I recall President Yanukovych did offer to install opposition leaders in top posts. By that time there was a lot of shooting in Maidan (mostly by snipers) and dozens of deaths. Police were leaving their posts. Clearly Yanukovych did not want to go the way of Mussolini.

Posted by: dh | Jan 27 2019 15:22 utc | 248

@244 dh

Actually this is a good moment to reflect on leadership during crisis. We saw, especially in the Crimea days after Maidan, how the Ukraine military were completely conflicted as to where their loyalties lay. Many deferred to Russian soldiers simply because they quite honorably had no will to fight against those who moments earlier had been brothers and allies. By no means were the soldiers and commanders allied to the illegal power in Kiev. They had sworn allegiance to the legal government, which had now fled under the duress of a coup.

Who can say how Yanukovych might have rallied the military behind him and crushed the insurrection if he had stayed, and if Russian advice, along with military support requested by the legal government, had instantly come to his aid?

The point I think is that when he fled, he destroyed all possibility of lawful help from Russia. By contrast, Dr. Assad and President Maduro are both the lawful heads of their states, and Russia's help is lawfully available. Who knows actually how much the resolve of the military in Venezuela has rallied around Maduro out of loyalty to the state itself, no matter what individual opinions might have been of him prior to this clear and present danger?

All this, from the presence of one person staying in the appointed place at the appointed hour. Maduro and his family could have been dead by now. No one knew the outcome of the last few days in advance. But Maduro stepped up to his role.

Posted by: Grieved | Jan 27 2019 15:29 utc | 249

@249 Right. The military and police always have a difficult decision to make in these situations. Sending in the Cossacks against the workers as in 1917 just won't look good so basically in these days of instant communication opening fire on a crowd of civilians is not a good idea. That is why protesters try to provoke them into a violent reaction.

So far in Caraccas it seems to be just the usual young folk running around throwing rocks. They are no real threat to a well trained police force.

Posted by: dh | Jan 27 2019 15:44 utc | 250

@249 You've obviously got your teeth into the Maduro/Yanukovich analogy.

I'm not sure what kind of 'lawful help' Yanukovich was expecting from Russia in Kiev. Spetznaz paratroopers or something? Putin is in enough trouble for 'invading' Crimea and Donbass.

Posted by: dh | Jan 27 2019 16:00 utc | 251

Thanks to all having this discussion on coup management here - very informative and appropriate to our overall quest for peace these many threads. As we learned from Naomi Klein's "Shock Doctrine", there is always so much to learn from what has gone before. And I am remembering Putin's conciliatory remarks even toward the Ukranian coup leadership and army in general after the crisis in Crimea. He actually thanked the Ukranian army for not engaging in a greater conflict at that time.

Very welcome crisis management underway at this point in time. Thanks again, all!

Posted by: juliania | Jan 27 2019 16:07 utc | 252

Circe 198

Indeed and in some days EU nations will back the traitor after the same threats:

South African Envoy to UN Calls on EU to Rethink 8-Day Ultimatum to Venezuela

Posted by: Zanon | Jan 27 2019 16:22 utc | 253

Russia isn't capable of treating Venezuela as if it were Syria.

Putin can mask much with his consummate global statemanship but his resources are limited and already stretched back home, in Ukraine and the Middle East.

He already caught flack back home for drastically increasing retirement ages for men and women. You won't read about this in the Russian MSM, of course, but there is a price to pay...even for the master politician who can pre-select his electoral opponents... and while barflies may lap up the "blame the USA" Russian MSM meme, the Russian people aren't buying it, as they are forced to live with deteriorating economic consequences in their lives in common with our own "deplorables".

China may have the means, but the Chinese lack motivation, equipment and skills to play militarily more than halfway around the world. Maybe tomorrow, maybe someday. But not today.

This is yet another [one more] total Trumpist GOP blunder ("seriously flawed plan" indeed) unfolding which many may misread into yet another [one more] promise of the great (WWIII, lol) face off between global powers which will in fact go nowhere.

Get used to it, Trump fans. This is the new Trump foreign policy under his new self-selected team.

Trump and his GOP suckasses are now caught firmly in a negative feedback loop from which Trump himself could possibly break free if he would only listen to me and embrace the actual economic populism he espoused to get himself elected in the first place. He could tailor his policies to pass the Democratic House and dare his Senatorial Suckasses to filibuster. This is the donkeytale dream. It was also more or less the Nixon way, I might add.

But, alas, instead, between now and 2020 the Trumpist GOP will continually foment crazier and crazier self-created crises to take their dwindling base's mind off the current and prior self-created crises.

He has no other out {save selling out to Nancy and Chuck). Unlike Putin he can't yet legally invalidate his most effective opposition or prevent term limits. Unlike Xi he is not yet President for Life.

Trump will likely invoke emergency powers to get his cherished wall funding even as there is no emergency along the border.

If successful will he also invoke emergency powers to remain president?

Posted by: donkeytale | Jan 27 2019 16:48 utc | 254

@234 kadath / yeah, right....

i agree with your overview kadath and thanks for your ongoing comments, as well as yeah, rights!

it's interesting the parallels grieved and dh are discussing... obviously each situation is different, but regardless of that i see the usa on a continued downward spiral while still in a strong position to inflict a lot of damage.. in fact i wonder how much the usa is just a figurehead for the world financial system at this point in time? the fact the boe is not returning the gold to venezuala is more of the same hydra.. until such time as this financial system is replaced with something else, i think this is continuing taste of what we'll continue to see... and, i think we are headed for ww3 as i have said many times at moa... i wish it was different..

Posted by: james | Jan 27 2019 19:47 utc | 255

Krollchem | Jan 27, 2019 9:59:39 AM | 245

Wow! In a comment you want me to elaborate on the nature of imperialism? Okay, stay tuned.

Posted by: William Bowles | Jan 27 2019 20:10 utc | 256

Krollchem: Lein spelt it out pretty accurately over 100 years ago!

If it were necessary to give the briefest possible definition of imperialism we should have to say that imperialism is the monopoly stage of capitalism. Such a definition would include what is most important, for, on the one hand, finance capital is the bank capital of a few very big monopolist banks, merged with the capital of the monopolist associations of industrialists; and, on the other hand, the division of the world is the transition from a colonial policy which has extended without hindrance to territories unseized by any capitalist power, to a colonial policy of monopolist possession of the territory of the world, which has been completely divided up.

He goes on to say:

(1) the concentration of production and capital has developed to such a high stage that it has created monopolies which play a decisive role in economic life; (2) the merging of bank capital with industrial capital, and the creation, on the basis of this “finance capital”, of a financial oligarchy; (3) the export of capital as distinguished from the export of commodities acquires exceptional importance; (4) the formation of international monopolist capitalist associations which share the world among themselves, and (5) the territorial division of the whole world among the biggest capitalist powers is completed. Imperialism is capitalism at that stage of development at which the dominance of monopolies and finance capital is established; in which the export of capital has acquired pronounced importance; in which the division of the world among the international trusts has begun, in which the division of all territories of the globe among the biggest capitalist powers has been completed.

How does this grab you?

Of course, it needs to be set in the context of events in Venezuela and elsewhere.

Posted by: William Bowles | Jan 27 2019 21:04 utc | 257

Whoops, sorry here's the source, and its Lenin of course:

The entire essay statrs here:

Posted by: William Bowles | Jan 27 2019 21:05 utc | 258

Does this explain why the US does what it does? Why only half the oil is not enough?

Posted by: William Bowles | Jan 27 2019 21:15 utc | 259

dh | Jan 27, 2019 11:00:57 AM | 251

Absolutely! That's just what the pirates wanted, for Putin to send in the troops, then next stop NATO and its 'humanitarian intervention'.

Posted by: William Bowles | Jan 27 2019 21:27 utc | 260

The test for Maduro will come when the snipers start up. This is where Yanukovich failed.
Assad was willing to use force in Syria when the snipers started shooting, and after Syria putting up a long fight, Russia stepped in with its military.
Re Yanukovich, Putin mentions this in the Crimea documentary. At the same time, Maduro if he is smart will follow Russia's lead with local actions always being dependant on Russia's geo-political moves.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Jan 27 2019 21:54 utc | 261

@236 Zanon You realty don't get it, do you?

The USA is claiming that Maduro ISN'T the President, that his gov't ISN'T the govt of Venezuela.

Every time he engages the USA - even if it is a discussion of a stalemate - then he is making a mockery of that argument.

It doesn't matter that the USA can't be trusted - it certainly can't - because this is THE precise situation where it is better to have them inside the tent pissing out, not outside the tent pissing in.

He needs to talk talk talk talk to the Americans, then talk some more.

Because every time he does he is making a mockery of the claim that Guaido counts for anything.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Jan 27 2019 23:15 utc | 262

Circe #242

Absolutely concur with your viewpoint, particularly in relation to China. With the amount of investment they have in the country it might not be a bad idea to move a few divisions c/w artillery in to protect the oilfields. I think that would guarantee an instablink in certain circles!

On a more depressing note the pissweak Australian Liberal Hypocrisy Party embarrassed most Australians (those with IQ's above 40),by invoking article 3 of the avant-garde "Rules Based International Order" whereby they have followed suit with their masters and recognised friend Guaido as legitmate president of a democratic country with legally sitting president.

You couldn't make this stuff up if you tried lol

Posted by: m | Jan 28 2019 7:20 utc | 263

Yes its doubtful Russia could do anything military related at this point, it should have happen eariler.
What Russia should still do is to put a resolution in the UN, US have tried to do it, Russia hasnt even tried.
Both Maduro and Putin act very naive now, neocons see that too.

Posted by: Zanon | Jan 28 2019 8:32 utc | 264

@264 Zanon Yes, yes, we know, everything is always Russia's fault.

The USA would not be acting all.... American.... if it weren't for the fact that Vladimir Putin is enabling the worst instincts of the USA by his inaction.

So everything the USA does is - obviously - his fault.

Here's a thought: if you don't like that Putin doesn't put himself on the line then **you** should show the courage of your convictions and stand between Uncle Sam and Something He Wants.

Be my guest but, please, make sure to let me know how it ends up.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Jan 28 2019 11:06 utc | 265

This from an interview with former Brazilian foreign minister Celso Amorim by Pepe Escobar on the Venezuelan crisis:

Now, in the South American chessboard, regarding the Venezuelan crisis, we are seeing a direct confrontation between the four major poles of Eurasia – Russia, China, Iran, Turkey – against the US. And with another BRICS member, Brazil, siding against Russia and China.

In a multipolar world, we now have a huge test, because Brazil presides over the BRICS in 2019. How is Brazil going to be seen inside BRICS? There used to be an atmosphere of trust inside BRICS.

I’ve got to say that based on my experience at the Security Council, when I was ambassador, during the government of Fernando Henrique Cardoso [from 1995 to 2003], the Russians and the Chinese gave immense weight to respect for national sovereignty. In terms of international law, they always stress non-intervention. I hope we won’t have a confrontation like Vietnam in our region. But when President Trump says that all options are on the table, he’s obviously accepting a military solution. This is very dangerous. I see a very sound Brazilian position coming from General Mourao [the Brazilian vice-president]. And yet the Foreign Ministry says Brazil will support politically and economically a government that does not exist – so that already means intervention.

Watch out!!!

Posted by: William Bowles | Jan 28 2019 15:41 utc | 266

More from the Escobar interview, this time on Putin, which bears out everything I've thought and said about the man:

What’s your insider view, as a statesman, of Vladimir Putin, demonized 24/7 in the US as a major existential threat to the West?

The first time I saw Putin face to face was when he received three nations from the Group of Rio, and the main topic of discussion was Iraq. That was before the invasion in March 2003. What most impressed me was his great knowledge of the dossiers – something you usually don’t expect from presidents. He’s extremely sharp, very intelligent, obviously cares for Russian interests but at the same time pays attention to the balance of power. A very realist politician. I don’t see him as a great idealist. He’s like a 19th-century politician, very conscious geopolitically.

Posted by: William Bowles | Jan 28 2019 16:11 utc | 267

in the 2016 election trump bet on the collective dog-like ADHD of the typical yank. it paid off. between now and november 2020 a lot of goofy stuff will happen and most of his voters can't find venezuela on a map or even spell it for that matter. some might mistake it for "venereal" or "zika" and worry about herpes and deformed baby heads, i suppose.

this is also another case of "sleazy business guy" trump trying to be "president trump" by the same rules. he was always able to slither into a country, buy off some politicians and/or judges and get his fugly buildings and golf courses built against the will of the residents. that's all the "moscow tower" story ever was. he apparently even screwed over his own mother's people in a similar fashion. och!

the main "chess (or in this case, checkers) piece" seems to be the embassy "diplomats" and workers. letting them stay is a horrible idea on a million levels but - as mentioned here previously - kicking them out by force will give the blob a reason to whine and piss and bitch for months on end and invoke memories of iran 1979 and etc etc.

odd to see the media barometer here in canadia; they went from stupidly towing the line to today calling guaido "the self-proclaimed 'president'". way to turn into the skid, guys.

Posted by: the pair | Jan 28 2019 18:36 utc | 268

This should interest folks here, James Petras' latest essay:

Peculiarities of US Imperialism in Latin America By James Petras

Posted by: William Bowles | Jan 29 2019 9:24 utc | 269

karlof1 @26

(Your link doesn't work.) Maybe Mexico will assert its rights to Texas, California, Nevada, Utah, most of Arizona, half of New Mexico, a quarter of Colorado, and a small section of Wyoming...

Posted by: Gene Poole | Jan 29 2019 13:42 utc | 270

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