Venezuela–Will Moscow make a mockery of The Monroe Doctrine?


March 29,2019

Venezuala– Will Moscow make a mockery of The Monroe Doctrine?

by Dr. Fareed Zakaria

https://fareedzakaria.com/columns/2019/3/28/is-venezuela-where-trump-finally-stands-up-to-putin

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President Trump faces a crucial test of his foreign policy and his resolve over Venezuela. His administration has made absolutely clear that the United States no longer considers Nicolás Maduro to be president, publicly backing Juan Guaidó, the head of Venezuela’s National Assembly, as the country’s interim leader. Trump has gone so far as to urge the Venezuelan military not to follow Maduro’s orders. These declarations are much stronger than the “red line” President Barack Obama drew around Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

So far, Trump’s pressure has not worked. Maduro has dug in, and the Venezuelan military has not abandoned its support for him. While U.S. sanctions may be hurting, they could also have the effect of creating a siege mentality that reinforces the regime’s hold on the nation. This is what happened to varying degrees with Cuba, North Korea and Iran.

Venezuela is a complicated, divided country, and Maduro, as heir to the legacy of Hugo Chávez, does have some support in poor and rural areas. But far more significant in bolstering the regime has been Russia’s open and substantial support. Moscow now admits that it has sent military personnel to Venezuela. Two Russian military planes arrived in the country last weekend, carrying about 100 troops.

This is just the latest in a series of moves by Moscow to shore up Maduro. Over the past few years, Russia has provided wheat, arms, credit and cash to the flailing government in Caracas. Estimates of Russia’s total investment in Venezuela vary from $20 billion to $25 billion. Russia now controls almost half of the country’s U.S.-based oil subsidiary, Citgo, which has been a major source of government revenue. The Venezuelan military uses Russian equipment almost exclusively.

The Venezuelan gambit appears to be personally significant for Russian President Vladimir Putin. In recent years, as the Venezuelan economy has tanked and political instability has grown, even most Russian companies have abandoned the country, viewing it as too risky. But, as Vladimir Rouvinski writes in a report for the Wilson Center, Russian state-controlled oil giant Rosneft has persisted and even ramped up its support for Maduro. The company is led by Igor Sechin, who has close ties to Putin and is often called the second-most powerful man in Russia.

In other words, Putin is all-in with his support for Maduro. He is doing this in part to prop up an old ally, and because it adds to Russia’s clout in global oil markets, but above all because it furthers Putin’s central foreign policy objective — the formation of a global anti-American coalition of countries that can frustrate U.S. purposes and usher in a more multipolar world. Putin’s efforts seem designed to taunt the United States, which announced the Monroe Doctrine in 1823, warning foreign powers to stay out of the Western Hemisphere.

The big question for Washington is: Will it allow Moscow to make a mockery of another U.S. red line? The United States and Russia have taken opposing, incompatible stands on this issue. And as with Syria, there is a danger that, if Washington does not back its words with deeds, a year from now, we will be watching the consolidation of the Maduro regime, supported with Russian arms and money.

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The administration has been tough on Russian involvement in Venezuela. Trump himself has even declared, “Russia has to get out.” But that is an unusual statement from Trump, who has almost never criticized Putin and often sided with Russia on matters big and small.

As former U.S. Ambassador to Moscow Michael McFaul has written in The Post, Trump has a remarkably consistent pattern of supporting Putin’s foreign policy. Trump has threatened to withdraw from NATO and has announced the removal of U.S. troops from Syria. He has publicly disagreed with his own intelligence community’s conclusion that Moscow meddled in the 2016 elections, saying, “President Putin . . . said it’s not Russia. . . .I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

The big question for Washington is: Will it allow Moscow to make a mockery of another U.S. red line? The United States and Russia have taken opposing, incompatible stands on this issue. And as with Syria, there is a danger that, if Washington does not back its words with deeds, a year from now, we will be watching the consolidation of the Maduro regime, supported with Russian arms and money.

The administration has been tough on Russian involvement in Venezuela. Trump himself has even declared, “Russia has to get out.” But that is an unusual statement from Trump, who has almost never criticized Putin and often sided with Russia on matters big and small.

As former U.S. ambassador to Moscow Michael McFaul has written in The Post, Trump has a remarkably consistent pattern of supporting Putin’s foreign policy. Trump has threatened to withdraw from NATO and has announced the removal of U.S. troops from Syria. He has publicly disagreed with his own intelligence community’s conclusion that Moscow meddled in the 2016 elections, saying, “President Putin . . . said it’s not Russia. . . .I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

(c) 2019. Washington Post Writers Group

3 thoughts on “Venezuela–Will Moscow make a mockery of The Monroe Doctrine?

  1. This article is one reason why, to many countries outside the West’s iron grip, the American media simply lacks credibility. It talks about the Monroe Doctrine but ignores the West’s regime change in the Ukraine – an extremely hostile act all the more because 1) Ukraine had been part of Russia for centuries, 2) it’s right next door to Russia, and 3), it reneged on the promise by the US not to move an inch Western forces towards Russia if the Soviet Union were to dissolve itself.

    Trump will do well to stop moving lethal weapons into the Ukraine and other areas near Russia, in return for Russian withdrawal of troops from Venezuala. This is in line with Trump’s distrust of past actions by US presidents, especially that of Barack Obama. Time for all countries to focus on their own development instead of creating mischief overseas.

  2. What Monroe Doctrine? Washington’s failure to enforce the Monroe Doctrine during the Cold War when the Soviet Union made Cuba into a client state and military outpost has not encouraged respect for that doctrine in the post-Cold War era.

    Moscow’s decision to send two nuclear-capable bombers to Venezuela to show support for Nicolas Maduro’s government is the reaction to Washington’s intrusive policies in Russian’s geopolitical neighborhood. Not surprisingly, Washington is unhappy about Moscow’s move. But it is the US that has started the new cold war by pushing NATO expansion right to the borders of Russia.

    The US must recognize that other major powers, just like the US, historically have insisted on a sphere of influence, indeed a sphere of preeminence, in regions adjacent to their homelands. Wise great powers respect those prerogatives and avoid taking actions that intrude into the spheres of influence of other great powers.

    But recent US governments have challenged the legitimacy of the entire concept. Three secretaries of state, Condoleezza Rice, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, openly rejected it in response to Russia’s military actions against Georgia and Ukraine, and China’s claims in the South China Sea. That is dangerously unrealistic thinking.

    Washington, Moscow and Beijing need to establish clear rules of the road regarding conduct in Latin America, Eastern Europe, and the Asia Pacific. Such a modus vivendi means that the US intends to remain preeminent in the Western Hemisphere, while Russia enjoys a similar status in a much smaller area in Eastern Europe and China in the Asia Pacific. The alternative is a continued deterioration of relations, punctuated by ever-escalating provocations and quarrels. That is a dangerous course none of the three countries should wish to pursue.

    Donald Trump said on Friday he will probably talk to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping about the crisis in Venezuela. Just PROBABLY.

  3. In the case of US a failed military interventions has, more often than not, resulted in rewarding local partners Green Card to avoid persecution

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