Friday, September 28, 2018

A Dangerous Idea: Invading Venezuela

Semana magazine calls invading Venezuela 'Playing with fire.'
As Venezuela's disintegration accelerates and millions of economic and political refugees spill across its borders - especially into Colombia - talk is increasing about a radical solution: military invasion to replace the corrupt, incompetent and anti-democratic government in Caracas.

But even tho there's little doubt that a rational, democratic government would greatly benefit
'I'm Venezuelan and have three children.' A Venezuelan man
begs near Bogotá's Simon Bolivar Park.
  Venezuela's desperate people as well as neighboring countries, a military attack - likely involving the United States, Colombia and maybe Brazil - could make things much worse.

Notwithstanding Venezuelan Pres. Maduro's boass and blusters, as well as Venezuela's purchases of Chinese and Russian armaments, his military wouldn't last long against experienced forces such as those of Colombia or the United States. A few years ago, when Chávez mobilized forces, many tanks broke down before even reaching the border. Years of worsening corruption and shortages later, the Venezuelan military's preparedness must be much worse.

But that doesn't mean an invasion would be clean and bloodless. Venezuela's army would fight long enough to generate foreign casualties, and, as in all conflicts, innocent civilian bystanders would suffer and even be killed. In addition, Maduro's government has recruited and propagandized citizen militias. The militia members, who include housewives and cab drivers, would be no match against a real armed forces. However, the Venezuelan regime would not hesitate to sacrifice these fanatics as cannon fodder, compounding the tragedy.

Imagine the images of hapless Venezuelan men and women, even if militia members, getting shot down by foreign soldiers. No matter who pushed them into the line of fire, it would be devastating for the images of the invading nations.

Meanwhile, Chavista loyalists would sabotage infrastructure, compounding the mayhem and making rebuilding much harder. And, in its death throes, The warplanes which Venezuela has purchased from Russia could attack Colombian ports, bridges and oil refineries, bringing death, destruction and environmental carnage to Colombian territory.

And then would come the occupation and nation building, amidst continued protests, violent counterattacks and sabotage.

And what good would all this carnage do? How would foreign governments put Venezuela back on its feet? The nation's courts are corrupt puppets of Maduro; its democratic institutions are disfunctional. Venezuela's most relatively intact institutions, its police and the military, are also corrupt and involved in drug trafficking and severe human rights absuses. What left to build a new state on?

Meanwhile, most Latin American nations have made clear that, as much as they dislike the Venezuelan regime, they oppose even more the idea of Washington removing a government it doesn't like.

Much better, it seems, would be to let the Maduro fall on his own. However, that might take a long, ,long time: Venezuela's disastrous condition may only strengthen Maduro's grip on power by driving his opponents out of the country, while those who remain behind are dependent on government subsidies - and therefore afraid to defy Maduro. Meanwhile, you can bet that Maduro and his circle are living in luxury.

Of course, washington could accelerate Venezuela's colapse, albeit at the cost of even more suffering for the Venezuelan people, with one very simple measure: boycott Venezuelan oil. Ironically, the U.S. continues to be the largest buyer of Venezuelan crude. But U.S. officials fear raisig the cost of gasoline even a few cents.

Unfortunately, don't expect Venezuela's crisis to end anytime soon.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

No comments: