Wednesday, January 30, 2019

A war ends? A war starts?





"Venezuela is worth keeping an eye on. If something is going to happen, it will happen sooner rather than later. I just hope President Trump looks at the lessons we learned from getting involved in long term wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."


With all the breaking news this month (and it was a news rich month!), the news about the "maybe" brokered peace with the Taliban in Afghanistan almost fell off the bottom of page 15 of the paper. And it should have been front page headlines. Our longest war, might be coming to an end. After over 17 years of fighting in this most unforgiving land, the end might be in sight. Victory? Hardly. Defeat? No. A brokered peace, which may or may not last. 

BUT (and there is always a but) - the ink is not on the paper as yet. Officially, as this is penned this frigid morning, we are still at war in Afghanistan. For now, our troops are still in harm's way. After spending over $2.4T in executing this war, our financial spigot over there might be close to being turned off. Was it worth it? All that American blood and treasure to fight to a draw? I don't know - maybe we can ask the Russians.

So, now that the President has declared we are winding down in Syria, and Afghanistan might be coming to a close, are we getting closer to world peace? Maybe not. Some international experts are seeing a new proxy war developing in oil rich Venezuela. A country being torn apart, and on the brink of a civil war. Only in this civil war, the sides have already been fortified. The United States is backing the people's favorite Juan Guaido (who is not in power) and Russia is backing the very unpopular, Nicolas Maduro (who is in power). 

During a presser this week, John Bolton was asked what our strategic interest is in Venezuela. Bolton gave some of the usual canned answers about free trade and freedom from authoritarian rule. In reality it is our friend once again - oil. Despite the fact Venezuela is broke and starving (thanks in large measure to trying socialism as a form of government), they are still dripping with oil. If for some reason, the oil flow from Venezuela stops, the shock to the international oil market will be felt by everyone. And with a world economy fighting off a cold, that cold could soon turn into pneumonia. 

Rumor (heavy on the word "rumor"), has it the United States is ready to send 5,000 troops to Columbia to boost up Guaido just in case push comes to shove. And if the Russians also get involved by trying to boost up Maduro, Venezuela could soon become Syria on steroids.

Already the trail of refugees trying to escape Venezuela into Columbia is almost endless. The irony? Not too many years ago, my wife and I visited Columbia. Some of the locals we chatted with told us they would drive across the border into Venezuela to buy gasoline. Why? Gas was so cheap over there, it was next to free. 

Venezuela is worth keeping an eye on. If something is going to happen, it will happen sooner rather than later. I just hope President Trump looks at the lessons we learned from getting involved in long term wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Me? Not a fan of any more wars for quite a while.  

3 comments:

  1. Unlike Afghanistan, Venezuela is more like Haiti-- A country run into the ground by a ruthless dictator. Take out that dictator by whatever means, and the country goes back to peaceful pursuits quickly.

    Also, while the US still buys about half of Venezuela's oil, its production has slowed to a trickle and it wouldn't matter much to us if we did without for a while.

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  2. Despite the amount of pressure Maduro’s government finds itself under, it still seems to have an ace up its sleeve: the armed forces. The crooked military, living off stolen food from programs it is tasked to run and siphoning off revenues from running the state oil business will not abandon Maduro. Russia and Venezuela have had close military ties for decades. During boom times, oil-rich Venezuela has been a major buyer of Russian military hardware — with contracts for fighter jets, tanks, small arms and other equipment totaling more than $12 billion, according to Americas Quarterly. More recently, Russia has helped Venezuela develop a cryptocurrency intended to help it evade U.S. sanctions. Today, a Russian plane supposedly was loaded with about 20% of Venezuela's gold, collecting payment before the shit hits the fan. Russia will probably abandon it's support til things settle. South America is too far from Russia to operate a military invasion and too close to the US.

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  3. The nuclear capable bombers that landed this week will leave by the weekend. Just an empty show of force.

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