It’s been a little over a week since Venezuela’s opposition-held National Assembly leader Juan Guaido has declared himself “interim president” of the South American nation.
Yet so far, the opposition has made little traction in dislodging elected President Nicolas Maduro and the chavista government he heads, despite the crippling “medieval siege”-like sanctions heaped upon his government that appear to be a naked grab for Venezuelan oil.
Increasingly, it looks like little short of a major armed intervention will actually topple the Venezuelan government – and any such intervention could unleash forces in the region that would spiral well beyond the control of any party involved in the potential conflict.
On Wednesday, Maduro explicitly warned in his “message to the people of the United States” that Americans can’t allow the country to “allow another war like Vietnam in Latin America,” warning that any U.S. military assault will mean that troops “will have a much worse Vietnam than you could imagine.”
Stressing the need for a broad anti-war front to oppose any new war in Latin America, the Venezuelan leader added:
“The United States is a great country and it is much bigger than Donald Trump … I only ask for respect for Venezuela and I need your support to avoid a war like Vietnam.”
Here are five reasons why, as Nicolas Maduro recently stated, a war on Venezuela could prove to be a “Latin American Vietnam” – or possibly worse.
1. The Venezuelan People Don’t Want a War
First and foremost, the people of Venezuela – as dire as their state may be due to the de facto blockade imposed on their country – simply don’t want to be “liberated” in the manner that the U.S. speaks of, especially given the long record of statements from U.S. politicians like National Security Advisor John Bolton and President Donald Trump who openly talk about stealing the country’s oil, or the fact that Trump’s new special envoy to the country, Elliott Abrams, is an actual war criminal.
And while various former Venezuelan officials living outside of the country have clamored for a “humanitarian intervention” of some kind, a recent poll by Datanálisis – hardly a pro-Maduro company – shows that only 35 percent of the population support a foreign intervention to remove Maduro, and 54 percent are opposed.
2. Russia and China Have Maduro’s Back
In the geopolitical “great game” between major powers, Venezuela is an important piece of the puzzle – and Russia and China have shown over the years that they won’t simply abandon their troubled friend to the fate that befell Iraq or Libya, especially not while they are involved in a tug-of-war with western powers over Syria, Ukraine, Taiwan and the South China Sea, respectively.
According to some estimates, the South American nation owes between $120-$140 billion to its two allies, which is repayable in oil. Russia’s Rosneft oil conglomerate also holds an almost 50 percent stake in Citgo, a subsidiary of Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA.
Pentagon war-planners are also surely aware of the risk of miscalculation. Given the already proxy-war nature of the drama surrounding Venezuela, U.S. aggression could lead to an escalation of the conflict – including Maduro asking Russia for stepped-up aid or a full-fledged military presence in the country, which he is entitled to request under international law.
3. A Regional War Would Be a Total Bloodbath
When John Bolton held up a notepad Monday that read “5,000 troops to Colombia,” many were shocked – and indeed, the dispatching of troops so close to Venezuela’s border is a cause for concern. Yet even the U.S. invasion against a massively outgunned Panama required around 27,000 soldiers, and the U.S. is notoriously afraid of incurring troop losses given the domestic reaction that would result from U.S. casualties on the ground.
And any war in the region surrounding the Amazon involving the well-armed right-wing governments of Brazil and Columbia versus an equally well-equipped Venezuelan military would have global ramifications and could potentially be a multi-generational conflict.
Yet some experts see any possible mobilization of troops to the region as preparing the grounds for a potential “tripwire,” as Adam Isacson, a security analyst at the Washington Office on Latin America, told The Guardian:
“I think Bolton was just bluffing, but if it happens those troops would be a tripwire, ready to trigger a bigger deployment should there be any incursion from Venezuela.
Then there’s not telling how it escalates. Any war that involves Colombia and Venezuela would be devastating – both countries have strong airforces so it would be a war fought over infrastructure, military bases and cities – not just the border.”
4. “2,000,000 Militiamen Are Ready”
On Wednesday, the president of the National Constituent Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, made a clear response to John Bolton’s “5,000 troops” note with hi own “accidental” flashing of a handwritten note that read “2,000,000 MILICIA LISTOS,” or “2,000,000 militiamen are ready.”
The note was a reference to the country’s civilian-based National Bolivarian Militia, who have been trained and armed since 2008 for the express purpose of fighting off any “invading imperialist force.”
Equipped with state-of-the-art Dragunov sniper rifles, 5,000 Russian surface-to-air missiles, and a range of other modern weapons, such irregular forces would make any invading force’s mission an absolute nightmare.
5. The Migrant Crisis in South America Would Explode
Venezuela’s ongoing crisis has already led to the largest migration in Latin America’s modern history, with neighboring countries inundated by economic refugees seeking shelter and work in neighboring Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Ecuador by the hundreds of thousands. This has led to outbreaks of xenophobic violence targeting Venezuelans in each of these countries.
But as we’ve seen in the Middle East and North Africa, “regime change” wars only serve to sharply accelerate migration outflows from poor countries like Libya and Syria – and we have no reason to believe that a war on Venezuela would end the ongoing humanitarian exodus across South America.
Indeed, a new war in Venezuela would make the current crisis appear to be a drop in the bucket, and would have a knock-on effect with the potential to cause havoc across the Americas.
Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida
A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.
In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.
“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.
Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.
Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.
Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.
Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.
However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.
Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son
A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.
The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.
The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.
“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.
“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.
The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.
The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.
“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.
The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.
The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.
Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter
The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.
However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.
In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.
It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.
The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.
Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.
The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.
Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.
The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.
The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.