Could Maduro Be Right?

Dec. 14, 2018
by Bob Adelmann

For years now, Marxist dictator Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela has been blaming his and his country’s troubles on the U.S. “empire.” On Wednesday he provided some details: the United States government, with the help of Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton, is currently funding the training of 734 mercenaries in Colombia for an imminent invasion. The effort has the support of Colombia’s newly elected President Ivan Duque and Brazil’s president-elect Jair Bolsonaro. Charged Maduro: “I have no doubts that the U.S. administration, including John Bolton, has plans for Venezuela. I also have absolute and unending faith in Venezuela’s armed forces.” He added: “Venezuela does not kneel down, does not surrender. Venezuela will continue in peace and democracy. Let the American empire know!”

His “armed forces” were enhanced significantly two days earlier with the arrival of four military aircraft from Russia: two Tu-160s and two support aircraft containing various Russian officials and military support personnel. This likely was one of the favors Putin granted Maduro during Maduro’s visit to the Kremlin a week earlier seeking additional assistance for his tottering regime.

Initially, Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo scoffed at the arrival of the Russian military aircraft by Tweeting: “Russia’s government has sent bombers halfway around the world to Venezuela. The Russian and Venezuelan people should see this for what it is: two corrupt governments squandering public funds and squelching liberty and freedom while their people suffer.”

But behind the scenes an entirely different conversation was taking place between Trump and Putin officials. Some media called it a “spat” but the outcome was announced by the White House on Wednesday: the offending aircraft would be returning to Russia on Friday. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was diplomatic: “We have spoken with representatives of Russia and have been informed that their military aircraft, which landed in Venezuela [on Monday], will be leaving on Friday and going back to Russia.”

Part of the “spat” revolved around Russia’s deliberate projecting of force in the southern hemisphere and a warning to the U.S. that Russia had Venezuela’s back. That warning was backed up by the arrival of two Tu-160s, the largest, heaviest, and fastest swept-wing combat aircraft in the world. Although assumed to be unarmed, the Tu-160 is capable of carrying nuclear-tipped missiles with a range sufficient to reach nearly every major city in the U.S. The fact that Putin sent two of the 16 Tu-160s known to be in his arsenal 6,200 miles to Caracas to make a point no doubt changed the conversation in Washington.

Steve Byas, writing for The New American, pointed out that the U.S. has the same intention in Iran as it has in Venezuela. Wrote Byas, “Rudy Giuliani and National Security Advisor John Bolton have loudly and publicly called for the overthrow of Iran’s totalitarian theocracy.” Byas quoted Pompeo: “The Iranian regime has a choice: it can either do a 180-degree turn from its outlawed course of action and act like a normal country, or it can see its economy crumble.”

This could be applied to Venezuela as well. Sanctions against the Marxist regime there by the Trump administration have the same purpose: behave or else. That the Venezuelan citizenry are suffering is a matter of common knowledge: inflation has destroyed the currency, price controls have created shortages of medicine, food, and essential personal items. Millions have left the country while those remaining are living in desperate poverty. U.S. companies long operating in Venezuela, such as Kellogg and Clorox, have closed up shop, followed on Monday by the announcement from tire maker Goodyear that it was ending operations there as well. Its severance pay wasn’t in the worthless currency, the newly-created “sovereign bolivar” that replaced the previous worthless currency, the “strong bolivar.” Instead the company gave each departing employee something he could barter with: 10 automobile tires.

But is that suffering sufficient reason for the U.S. to intervene? Even if Mr. Bolton has no plans to invade using mercs, one remembers that the “military option,” according to his boss, remains on the table in “resolving” the situation in Venezuela. The Constitution has plenty to say about such behavior, but in Washington such restraints put in place by the founders to keep the chief executive from becoming the chief policeman of the world are ignored. In that brave new rudderless world, the end justifies the means.

When media types asked for a comment from Bolton’s office about Maduro’s charges it had no comment. It didn’t have to.


An Ivy League graduate and former investment advisor, Bob is a regular contributor to The New American magazine and blogs frequently at, primarily on economics and politics. He can be reached at


The Wall Street Journal: Russia to Withdraw Jets From Venezuela After Diplomatic Spat With U.S. Venezuela’s Maduro: US leads assassination plot against him Russia tells U.S. their bombers to leave Venezuela Friday: White House Maduro accuses U.S. official of plotting Venezuela invasion, gives no evidence Russia mum after sending 2 nuclear-capable bombers to Venezuela Maduro accuses US of plotting to kill him How Venezuela’s crisis developed and drove out millions of people

Background on Tu-160 Russian bombers Will Neoconservatives Convince Trump to Favor Regime Change in Iran?

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