Maduro Failure to Nab Guaido Will Sap Venezuela Army’s Morale: Ex-US Official
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, former US assistant secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy, said the failure of Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro to arrest opposition leader Juan Guaido would damage the military’s morale and pave the way for his government’s collapse.
“What the United States is banking on in Venezuela is that stress and strain will break the Venezuelan military. So far it has stood with the elected government in Venezuela and I think most likely members of the Venezuelan military understand that if the American coup succeeds, then the whole country will be back into poverty and will be plundered again as it has been in the past. So they have an incentive to stand with the elected government. Whatever Maduro’s failures, they are very small compared to what will happen to Venezuela once it is back in America’s clutches,” the former US assistant secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy under President Ronald Reagan in 1981 and current chairman of the Institute for Political Economy, told Tasnim.
He added, “…Maduro’s failure to arrest this man and all of his supporters and put them on trial will contribute to the military losing confidence in Maduro’s government.”
From early 1981 to January 1982, Roberts served as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy. After his time in government, he turned to journalism, holding positions of editor and columnist for The Wall Street Journal, columnist for Business Week, the Scripps Howard News Service as well as contributing editor to Harper's Magazine. Roberts was a professor of business administration and professor of economics at George Mason University and was the inaugural William E. Simon Chair in Political Economy at Georgetown University, serving for 12 years.
Following is the full text of the interview.
Tasnim: Recently, US National Security Adviser John Bolton said Washington is working to build a coalition seeking to replace Venezuela’s president Nicolas Maduro and his government. The US has also threatened Venezuela with military action. What is your take on this?
Dr. Roberts: The United States government is unable to tolerate any country that has an independent policy. This is the reason the United States government tried to overthrow (Bashar) Assad in Syria and the reason it wants to overthrow the Iranian government. Those governments that do not follow Washington’s rule are unacceptable and so in the case of Venezuela and in many other examples, the situation is magnified by the fact that Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world (and) that these oil reserves, prior to the Chavez government to the revolution as they call it there, were exploited by American and western firms and the money was taken out of the country and was not there to help with the development of Venezuela or the improvement of the situation of the Venezuelan people. So the nationalization of the oil by Chavez exactly as happened in Iran in the early 1950s when your first-elected democratic government nationalized the oil and was overthrown by the CIA, that is now in process in Venezuela. So it is really two things behind it: one is Washington will not tolerate countries, especially in Latin America because of the so-called “Monroe Doctrine” which means that the United States regards entirety of Latin America as American vassals. This was challenged by Chavez and by Maduro, so then Maduro has to go. Second: the oil needs to be put back into the hands of American oil companies. So that is what is going on down there and the whole thing is set-up, is an egregious obvious violation of international law and United States law. And yet it has the support of much of Latin America and primarily all of Europe. So it shows the extent of the American empire.
Tasnim: Russia has warned that the US is using humanitarian aid to instigate a dangerous provocation in Venezuela by arming the country’s opposition while moving its own forces closer to the borders of the Latin American country for a military invasion. Again, recently a Russian official said Moscow will do all it can to prevent any potential intervention against Venezuela by the US. I would like to know your take on this as well.
Dr. Roberts: What the Russian government means by doing all that it can means diplomatically. It does not mean a military intervention; it means that the Russian government will speak out against the American coup, will expose it and will try to organize diplomatical opposition against it. Of course, whatever the Russians say is unlikely to be reported in the American media. The Americans do not have a media, they have a ministry of propaganda. There is no such thing as a free press in the United States except the alternative media that still exist on the internet. So Russia is not really doing all it can. They could send a regimen of crack troops; this would increase the confidence of the Venezuelan military. The Chinese could do the same. Both China and Russia have large investments in Venezuela and of course, all of these could be lost if the American coup succeeds. So yes they could do that but this would be regarded by the Russian government as too much of provocation I think. So they are speaking mainly of diplomatic efforts, of their efforts in the United Nations Security Council; they will speak in defense of the Venezuelan government; they expose the American plot.
Tasnim: Venezuela’s self-declared leader Juan Guaido said recently that he was working to restore ties with Israel that Caracas cut off a decade ago in solidarity with the Palestinians. What do you think about his comments?
Dr. Roberts: Well, I would imagine that they are inspired by John Bolton and the American neo-conservatives and Zionists who are allied with Israel and the American neo-conservative policy of US hegemony works to Israel’s benefit in the Middle East and so probably it is just Bolton trying to expand his network and no doubt if the American coup succeeds, Venezuela will be made a member of NATO. So it is just the neo-conservatives or Zionists allied with Israel. Some of them are dual citizens, US-Israeli citizens; they are just expanding their network and also opening up for Israel the chance to participate alongside the Americans with the plundering, looting of Venezuela because that is what the coup is aimed at, namely to restore the ability of Washington and its friends to loot Venezuela because it has important resources. The world needs to understand much of the American wealth comes from looting of countries. That’s what it is about. If Israel then takes this interest, Israel’s lobby becomes just another lobbying force in Washington preaching Trump actually to do more and use the military. So I would imagine it is just all part of John Bolton’s view of maximizing the pressure Washington can put to overthrow Venezuela. This so-called opposition leader … first of all the only opposition are the Venezuelans who formally participated with the Americans in plundering the country and they want to recover this opportunity to plunder their own country. They are tiny number of people; they are obstacle elite elements and their candidate, of course, was picked by Washington because he is a puppet; he is servant of Washington; he does not represent Venezuelan people and he has never run for president; he has never been a candidate and it is really so absurd and it is so audacious; it makes you wonder why the United State would expose itself to this type of ridicules; it is too open. It is showing too much of an open illegality and obvious coup. Usually, Washington tries to hide the coup. This one is just too blatant. So it shows some people are running amok.
What the United States in banking on in Venezuela is that stress and strain will break the Venezuelan military. So far it has stood with the elected government in Venezuela and I think most likely members of the Venezuelan military understand that if the American coup succeeds, then the whole country will be back into poverty and will be plundered again as it has been in the past. So they have an incentive to stand with the elected government. Whatever Maduro’s failures, they are very small compared to what will happen to Venezuela once it is back in America’s clutches. But the stress and strain of the constant threats and bribes…you know the United States is offering his Venezuelan officers huge sums of money to commit treason and if you get worn down by stress and strain; the Americans have convinced you; they are coming with an invasion force and they are going to bomb Caracas and the alternative is you take millions of dollars and change sides; this is a serious threat to the legitimate government and so the longer these stress and strains go on, the bigger chance the Americans have that it will break the courage of the Venezuela military. Then they will desert their own government. That is what Washington is trying to do. I doubt that Washington would actually invade and particularly if the Venezuelans are going to resist because American invasions do not always succeed very well. You can look at Afghanistan where after 18 years they are unable to defeat a few thousand lightly armed Taliban. But I think the Americans will put heavy, heavy pressures on the Venezuelan military with threats and bribes and try to crack the resistance and I think in this sense Maduro is making a serious mistake not arresting the American puppet. The man has clearly committed sedition and treason. He is clearly in violation of the laws recognized all over the world and Maduro’s failure to arrest this man and all of his supporters and put them on trial will contribute to the military losing confidence in Maduro’s government. So Maduro will not deal with the American puppet who says he is the real president, a person no one has ever voted for, and at the same time the Americans are pressuring, threating and bribing the military… so that’s a very bad decision on the part of Maduro; I do not know who is advising him; maybe he is scared, maybe he thinks if he does arrest this man, America will invade. No. I think his government will collapse if he does not take action against this obvious treason and so I would say that the chance of John Bolton not succeeding (is low), at least it is 50-50 chance to overthrow the Venezuelan government.