Back in 2017 I, among many other open-eyed people, discussed Venezuela and Iran as possible next targets for the neo-con regime change faction.
That came after the Trump admin bombed Syria for the first time, revealing that the warmongers and interventionists were back in full control of foreign policy, against Trump's wishes and promises from the campaign trail. They had institutional power (the military-industrial complex) that he as a novice with zero political capital did not, so they won.
Mouth-breathers said it was a one-off cosmetic bombing, but as always the rationalizers of interventionism were dead wrong -- and now we've got thousands of Americans occupying northeastern Syria indefinitely.
The military and intel agencies floated a coup in Iran, trying to piggy-back on the mass protests against the government. But those protests were not looking to topple the regime entirely, only to make it respond to their grievances. The interventionists who Trump hand-picked to replace Tillerson and McMaster have been building up toward something bigger against Iran, but at the moment, they're putting it on the back-burner.
Instead, they're devoting their interventionism toward Venezuela.
As usual, it has nothing to do with how the government is running things, or material resources that could be captured -- it is only about nations whose leaders refuse to be incorporated within the US sphere of influence.
The military seeks to expand its territory and sphere of influence, not to loot places for their valuable stuff. It is never about oil -- we did not in fact "take the oil" in Iraq, as Trump complained. There's no oil or anything else that we're trying to loot out of Afghanistan now, or Vietnam before then, or North Korea before then. Likewise now in Venezuela, despite the large oil reserves there.
Rather, it is that oil wealth -- or some other windfall from material wealth -- allows nations to exist outside of the sphere of influence of the US, or other regional / global powers. It is this geopolitical independence that the US military wants to crush, and expand their pieces into another square on the great big global chessboard.
But in yet another sign of terminal imperial decline, they've chosen a completely hopeless project, much like in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. Let's review the reasons why Venezuela will not enter the US sphere of influence:
It never has in the past, and that's a good predictor of never doing so in the future.
The US sphere of influence only included Central America and the Caribbean islands, not South America. Although we did support coups in Chile, Argentina, and Brazil, these were endogenous processes that we merely provided help to -- we did not impose them from without. We have no ability to impose our will on South America.
Even within our historical sphere of influence, we have proven incapable of maintaining dominance. All those right-wing death squads that we did impose largely from without, in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua during the 1980s, failed to take over their societies. The Sandinistas and other economic nationalist peasant movements took over their governments. In the Caribbean islands, we lost the big one, Cuba, way back in the '50s and haven't come close to getting it back ever since. And we surrendered the Panama Canal -- an engineering marvel which we ourselves conceived, built, and maintained -- over 40 years ago.
Within our own regime cycle, we are in the disjunctive phase where the admin is largely ineffectual and sclerotic. We will probably not be undertaking a dramatic foreign adventure -- that belongs to the rising phase of the regime, like the proxy wars in Central America at the dawn of Reaganism, or the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan during Bush Jr. Or, for that matter, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam before the end of the New Deal under Carter.
But just because Carter's was a do-nothing, end-of-an-era administration, does not mean that it did not get itself into several foreign policy disasters. The main one was intervening in Afghanistan after the Soviets invaded, although more striking in the public's memory was the Iran hostage crisis. Boomers remember that disaster almost as strongly as the defeat in Vietnam, and it was just hostages who got released in a little over one year.
The disjunctive Trump admin, at the end of the Reagan era, may not get us into another Iraq War (too soon to tell), but it could still get us into other catastrophes just like Carter did. Syria, Venezuela, Iran -- anywhere that the neo-cons are looking at, could deliver the final blow to the Reagan era, just as the Iranian hostage crisis and energy crisis of the late '70s delivered decisive blows against the New Deal regime. Both of those crises traced back to regime change efforts, i.e. the CIA's overthrow of economic nationalist Mosaddegh of Iran in the 1950s, and imposing the Shah as our puppet.
If we are incapable of imposing our will in Latin America, especially in South America, then we would have to rely on one of our allies to take over Venezuela on our behalf. Historically, which regions have included Venezuela under their own sphere of influence? Not any of the Central American empires, nor the Inca empire. That eliminates Mexico and Chile.
The short-lived post-Columbian Brazilian empire included another country -- but it was to the south, Uruguay, not to the north, because the center of gravity in Brazil lies in the southeast, with nothing to do in the northwest on the Venezuelan border. And at any rate, the current leader of Brazil is from the opposition party, and therefore in a weak position to take on a large militaristic project, notwithstanding the efforts by extremely-online left-wingers and right-wingers to meme him into a fearsome fascist.
Venezuela did used to belong to the same polity as Colombia way back when, and that is the natural place that the warmongers are turning to as proxies. Still, after Colombia and Venezuela parted ways back in the 1800s, neither country has controlled the other one -- they are peers rather than a patron and a client pair.
Unfortunately for the regime changers, Colombia has been mired in a bloody civil war for many decades -- with the government, right-wing paramilitaries, and left-wing guerrillas, all of various factions, vying for control. Only in 2016 did the government and the main guerrilla group sign a peace agreement. Their internal societal reconstruction is just taking its baby steps, making a large-scale foreign military adventure impossible.
Venezuela, on the other hand, has been subjected to no civil war. There is an opposition movement, even a violent one, but it has not descended into total anarchy for the better part of 50 years, as it has in Colombia. It is a far more cohesive polity, and cohesive nations withstand attacks from fractured nations.
Moreover, the current leader is from the dominant party which realigned the system in the late 1990s -- begun by Hugo Chavez, and now carried out by his former vice president, Maduro. Political regimes last longer than just 20 years (more like 30-50 years), so Chavismo is not about to be snuffed out any time soon. There could be an opposition leader elected democratically at some time in the near future, but it will be someone who has made their peace with Chavismo, and only seeks to put a little variation on it.
To draw a parallel to the US, Chavez was like FDR in founding a new populist regime, and Maduro is like Harry Truman, a not so popular successor to the founder, but still someone who the population and the main elite sectors -- such as the military -- are supporting, as a figurehead for the broad regime. The opposition leaders, whether Leopoldo Lopez or Juan Guaido, are akin to the Republicans who wanted to dismantle the New Deal during the 1940s -- doomed to failure. They must find someone like Eisenhower who is willing to accept the dominant paradigm, and put their own spin on it.
Even if domestic or foreign agents manage to remove Maduro, what will that do? Assassinating JFK did not terminate the New Deal, and neither will removing Maduro terminate Chavismo. Regimes owe their strength to broadly diffused connections among collective entities (such as the military), not single individuals. Only when those collective connections have weakened so much internally within the dominant party, can the opposition dethrone them and institute a whole new regime.
So, the Chavista regime will withstand any attempts to destroy it by the domestic opposition or Colombian proxies of the US military. But that does not necessarily mean that this would be conclusively proven overnight -- just like in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, the morons in control of our failing empire will seek "maximum pressure" diplomatically, indefinite military occupation on a large scale (either from our own military, or Colombian proxies), and economic destruction over many years or decades.
As in all of our never-ending streak of imperial failures after our peak power during WWII, we would only be visiting pointless death and destruction on people who will never obey us, while racking up another $10 trillion in debt -- which will only get directed to the deep pockets of the senior defense contractors and MIC cartels.
That will bring us one step closer to defaulting on our massive sovereign debt, or to printing shitloads of dollars to pay it off -- and they say hyper-inflation is only a worry in socialist Venezuela. Hyper-inflation and debasing the currency, in reality, is more of a problem for failing empires that have taken out debt to finance their obscenely expensive doomed adventures, regardless of whether these impotent empires were capitalist, socialist, or miscellaneous.
That's not even to mention the tidal wave of Latin American immigrants that will be sent hurtling toward our non-existent border. Do any of these right-wing dipshits giving a pass to the coup in Venezuela ("because it's socialist" or "because they're brown lol") realize that its population is over 30 million? It's not a dinky little island like Puerto Rico.
Destabilizing their society, as we did to Central America in the 1980s and since, both economically and militarily, will send millions more into America, and we know how well the good ol' GOP will do to deport them. The Republican small business coalition will be salivating at all that dirt-cheap foreign labor, and none of the millions will ever be deported. They would remain here, driving down wages and driving up housing costs for the American working class.
Foreign policy is not a symbolic act of choosing which team you affiliate with and root for -- it's about the real-world consequences of favoring this side or that side, or intervention vs. isolation.
Intervening in Venezuela would devastate both the local population and our own, while only the warmongering elites would profit -- not "the elites" in general, only the defense contractors. The financial elites will get destroyed as their mostly dollar-denominated assets become worthless after we hyper-inflate our way out of the ensuing war debt (tacked on to the existing trillions of war debt).
It's a no-brainer for us to stay out, and unfortunately that means our foreign policy blob will probably plunge us right into it, pushing us to the brink of imperial extinction rather than allow for a graceful and face-saving controlled demolition of our crumbling, condemned edifice of empire.