Russia's Military Must Leave Venezuela Immediately
By Jiri Valenta
April 4, 2019 at 4:00 am
Russia was considering deploying strategic bombers full-time in Venezuela, according to the Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta, as reported by Moscow Times. The Russian media outlet also reported that an agreement had been reached between Moscow and Caracas to allow the deployment of Russian aircraft at a military base Venezuela's Caribbean island of La Orchila, where Russian advisers were dispatched in December.
It is urgent for Washington to act before Russia and Venezuela reach their imminent formal military agreement. At the same time, NATO membership should be offered to Brazil, a major ally, and economic aid should be provided to Columbia.
"[China and Russia] back Maduro to the hilt because they have much to lose if his leftist government falls. Both maintain crucial military facilities in the country... In recent months, China, the regime's largest creditor, has been digging itself in deeper. In September, Beijing extended Venezuela another $5 billion in credit. Russia has also loaned the country billions." — Gordon G. Chang, Gatestone Institute.
Pictured: Venezuelan and Russian military personnel at a ceremony for the arrival of two Russian Air Force Tu-160 strategic bombers in Venezuela, on December 10, 2018. (Image source: RT video screenshot)
After the landing of two Russian aircraft in Caracas on March 23 -- one an Ilyushin Il-62 passenger plane transporting 100 ground forces and the other an Antonov An-124 military cargo plane carrying 35 tons of materiel – U.S. President Donald J. Trump said that "Russia has to get out" of Venezuela.
In January, two months before this arrival of Russian military personnel and equipment in Venezuela, two Russian Air Force Tu-160 strategic bombers flying over the Arctic region near the North American coastline were detected and escorted out of the area by Canadian and U.S. Air Force jets.
Although it was not clear where these Russian bombers were headed, a similar incident had occurred a few weeks before, when two of the same type of Russian Tu-160 strategic bombers landed outside Caracas -- sorties indicating that these, too, were headed to Venezuela.
According to the Moscow Times, the Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazetareported earlier in December that Russia was considering deploying strategic bombers full-time in Venezuela. The Russian media outlet also reported that an agreement had been reached between Moscow and Caracas to allow the deployment of Russian aircraft at a military base on Venezuela's Caribbean island of La Orchila, where Russian advisers were dispatched in December.
The above moves are all part of Russia's open support for the beleaguered government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, which the U.S. and dozens of other nations have declared illegitimate. These countries support the popular young chairman of Venezuela's National Assembly, opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who has claimed an interim presidency.
Most 21st century Russian invasions have been launched in order to bring about or prevent regime change. Putin invaded Georgia in 2008 to undermine President Mikheil Saakashvili, who had pushed aggressively for Georgia's entry into NATO and the EU.
Putin's 2014 invasions in Crimea and eastern Ukraine were a response to what viewed as an illegal and unconstitutional coup in Kiev, which removed Ukraine from the Kremlin's orbit. While intervening in the Syrian civil war, which began in 2011, ostensibly to save Syrian President Bashar Assad's rule, Putin also aimed at projecting Russian power into the eastern Mediterranean.
By late 2018, Putin had achieved both goals. Meanwhile, Trump -- heir to a covert war started by his predecessor, President Barack Obama -- decided to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria.
Putin's response was to defrost the conflict with Ukraine in the Azov Sea. Instead of attacking the port city of Mariupol, however -- as some had expected -- he turned his attention to the more timely crisis in Venezuela.
As it did for Syria's Assad, Russia has been providing the Maduro regime with economic and military aid. While Syria is an important energy-transfer state, Venezuela is an energy jewel: in fact, it harbors one of the world's largest oil reserves. Maduro's Venezuela is also part of what U.S. National Security Adviser John R. Bolton has termed the "troika of tyranny," the others being Cuba and Nicaragua.
The recent landing of the two Russian planes in Venezuela came a mere a few days after the Trump administration's special envoy to Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, met with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryakbov in Rome. At that meeting, the two negotiators agreed to disagree over who was the real leader of Venezuela, Maduro or Guaidó. Ryakbov failed to mention, however, that Russia was about to dispatch military aircraft and manpower to Caracas.
Although this and other recent Russian moves in Venezuela are relatively minor at the moment, Moscow's intervention, if kept unchecked, obviously will grow as it did in Syria.
The same also applies to moves by Beijing. As Gordon G. Chang recently wrote:
"[China and Russia] back Maduro to the hilt because they have much to lose if his leftist government falls. Both maintain crucial military facilities in the country... In recent months, China, the regime's largest creditor, has been digging itself in deeper. In September, Beijing extended Venezuela another $5 billion in credit. Russia has also loaned the country billions."
Meanwhile, two Leninist-turned-narcotics traffickers – the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), and the National Liberation Army (ELN) -- have been coordinating their activities with the Maduro regime, which is also backed by Iran.
It is therefore not sufficient for Trump to tell Russia to leave Venezuela. It is imperative for the U.S. to liberate the people of Venezuela -- in the throes of a major humanitarian catastrophe -- from Maduro's stranglehold. It is urgent for Washington to act before Russia and Venezuela reach their imminent formal military agreement.
President Trump should declare that no additional Russian and Chinese military planes and ships will be allowed to enter Venezuela, and, if legally possible, back up this announcement with an air and sea blockade. At the same time, NATO membership should be offered to Brazil, a major ally, and economic aid should be provided to Colombia.
Only a speedy, tough response can salvage what is left of the Monroe Doctrine, the basic premise of which is to keep extra-hemispheric hostile forces out of the U.S.'s strategic backyard.
A few weeks ago, when Maduro denied food and medical assistance to his starving people, the U.S. had a compelling enough reason, political considerations permitting, to invade Venezuela, even before the Russians got militarily involved. Delay, as Moscow's move constitutes a dangerous encroachment on U.S. national security, has made things both more complicated and more necessary.
While the Trump administration contemplates how to proceed further to prevent Venezuela from falling to Russia, it might recall the words of the late American diplomat George Kennan, best known for advocating the policy of "containment" to oppose Soviet expansionism after World War II.
Kennan, in a 1950 memorandum, summed up his view of how the U.S. should approach and keep Latin America from falling to the Soviets.
He wrote to the countries south of the border an "imaginary statement" that read, in part:
"We hold out to you what perhaps no great power—no power of our relative importance in world affairs — has ever held out to neighboring smaller powers: the most scrupulous respect for your sovereignty and independence, the willing renunciation of the use of force in our relations with you, the readiness to join with you at any time in a large variety of forms of collaboration which can be of benefit to us both. But you will appreciate that the payoff for this unprecedentedly favorable and tolerant attitude is that you do not make your countries the sources or the seats of dangerous intrigue against us..."
Dr. Jiri Valenta is a member of the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations in New York, and formerly served at the Brookings Institution and the Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington, D.C. A former tenured associate professor at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, he is presently a senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University in Israel. The author of Soviet Intervention in Czechoslovakia, 1968, and other books, his publications include the BESA monograph, "Washington and Moscow: Conflict or Cooperation?"
© 2019 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.Type your paragraph here.
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THE MONROE DOCTRINE FOR VENEZUELA
Published on May 3, 2019
Published by the Gatestone Institute, May 3, 2019 at 5 A.M.
It is impossible that the allied powers should extend their political system to any portion of either continent without endangering our peace and happiness; nor can anyone believe that our southern brethren, if left to themselves, would adopt it of their own accord." — President James Monroe, 1823.
"The destinies of our nations will not be dictated by foreign powers; they will be shaped by the people who call this hemisphere home. Today, we proudly proclaim for all to hear: the Monroe Doctrine is alive and well." — National Security Adviser John R. Bolton, Miami, Florida April 17, 2019.
"The movement for freedom in Venezuela reveals that the twilight hour of socialism has arrived in our hemisphere..." — President Donald Trump, Feb. 19, 2019, Florida International University.
At the same time, it is probably a good idea to keep an eye on the Ukraine, where Putin has been offering around fast-tracked Russian passports, as he did prior to his invasions of Georgia's South Ossetia and Abkhazia in 2008, and Crimea in 2014. It is probably advisable for the US to help the Ukrainians reinforce their defenses there, especially around the city of Mariupol.
It might also help to explain to the American people what is at stake for the Western Hemisphere in Venezuela....
Under no circumstances should the Russians be allowed to bring in more troops, planes or war materiel into Venezuela by air or sea. Pictured: Russian President Vladimir Putin greets Venezuela's Nicolás Maduro in Moscow, on July 2, 2013. (Image source: kremlin.ru)
In his speech to Bay of Pigs veterans in Miami, Florida on April 17, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton explained the Trump administration's measures against Venezuela, which he said should serve as a warning to Russia and others offering military assistance to the regime of the dictator Nicolás Maduro:
"This incredible region [Latin America] must remain free from internal despotism and external domination... The destinies of our nations will not be dictated by foreign powers; they will be shaped by the people who call this hemisphere home. Today, we proudly proclaim for all to hear: the Monroe Doctrine is alive and well."
The heart of the Monroe Doctrine can be illustrated by President James Monroe's declaration in 1823:
"It is impossible that the allied powers should extend their political system to any portion of either continent without endangering our peace and happiness; nor can anyone believe that our southern brethren, if left to themselves, would adopt it of their own accord."
With a conflict now erupting in Venezuela, the American people clearly need to understand the relevance of the Venezuelan crisis to them, and why they should support it.
Here, therefore, is a short history of the milestone document drafted in 1823 by then Secretary of State and future president, John Quincey Adams, with input from former presidents James Madison and Thomas Jefferson.
The document was delivered in an 1823 annual message to Congress by our 5thpresident, James Monroe. His message -- not called the "Monroe Doctrine" until 1850 -- began by addressing the geopolitical ambitions in America of European tyrants ruling Russia, France and Spain. His greatest concern, as is among U.S. President Donald J. Trump's today, was Russia. Tsar Alexander I's 1821 ukaz[edict] was claiming all the coastal territory of the American Pacific Northwest down to the 51st parallel, today's State of Oregon, and was prohibiting non-Russian shipping in these regions.
America was still too weak to enforce its interests in the Western Hemisphere. Fortunately, America did have friendly support from Britain, with her then powerful Royal Navy, which helped to contain the Russian bear.
The first president to invoke the Monroe Doctrine by name was Abraham Lincoln.As America's Civil War continued to rage, a new threat had already opened south of the Texas border. Reform-minded Benito Juárez, the president of a new Mexican republic created in 1858, was fighting not only Mexican conservatives, but the troops of France's emperor, Napoleon III, to whom Mexico owed a considerable debt.
Napoleon III, apparently desiring to re-establish a monarchy in the Western Hemisphere, had created a Mexican throne for an Austrian archduke, Ferdinand Maximilian, and Confederate emissaries to the "Emperor" Maximilian were inquiring about a possible alliance.
Lincoln responded with covert military and economic aid for Juárez, the legitimate President of Mexico. Meanwhile Juárez dispatched agents across the U.S. to court capitalists, arms dealers and editors -- and even established "Monroe Doctrine Societies."
Finally, Lincoln deployed Generals Ulysses S. Grant and Philip Sheridan secretly to fight the French at the Mexican-Texas border. By 1867, the French units, evidently discouraged, began to withdraw. Maximilian was captured and shot. Juárez had prevailed.
In 1904, several other European powers -- Germany, Italy and the UK -- blockaded Venezuela and fired at its coast, evidently as part of an effort to collect an enormous foreign debt. Meanwhile, under President Cipriano Castro, a leader similar to today's Nicolás Maduro, chaos reigned and Venezuelans starved. Invoking the Monroe Doctrine against the extra-hemispheric powers. President Theodore Roosevelt sent in the U.S. fleet -- all of 50 ships. He then helped to negotiate and settle Venezuela's debts by using 30% of the country's customs duties until they were fully paid.
Roosevelt also added a "corollary" to the Monroe Doctrine: he proclaimed the right of the United States to exercise 'an international police power' to curb glaring and 'chronic wrongdoing.' The U.S. Marines were subsequently sent into Santo Domingo in 1904, Nicaragua in 1911, and Haiti in 1915. It was a move designed ostensibly to keep the Europeans out, but also to protect U.S. business interests. Other Latin American nations seem to have viewed these interventions with misgivings: for many years, relations between the "great Colossus of the North" and its southern neighbors remained strained.
Then came a course correction. Another Roosevelt, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR), recognized that the Monroe Doctrine was framed to protect the Americas from extra-hemispheric threats, not to police Latin neighbors. To enhance stability, he placed an emphasis on trade, cooperation and good neighboring.
The improved relations that resulted from the return to the doctrine's original meaning helped FDR prepare Latin America and the Organization of American States (OAS) for the rising threat of Nazi Germany. In 1940, the Monroe Doctrine came to include the collective right of self-defense at the "Meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the American Republics" in Havana.
The same year, FDR emphasized Monroe Doctrine in his presidential campaign, and in 1941, he extended the Monroe Doctrine "... eastward into the middle of the Atlantic." He also announced that it encompassed Greenland, then owned by Denmark, but at the time temporarily occupied by the U.S. : "We are applying to Denmark what might be called a carrying out of the Monroe Doctrine..."
Originating with FDR came an extended and more broadly defined Monroe Doctrine – one of taking the war across the Atlantic to the enemy, and rescuing an old ally, Britain, and with her Western Europe. The U.S. even made a temporary alliance with the Secretary General of the Soviet Communist Party, Joseph Stalin, to block the ability of Germany's Führer, Adolf Hitler, to advance to the east.
Thereafter, amidst the long Cold War that followed WWII, the Russians returned to the Americas with a new geopolitical and ideological challenge -- this time to its eastern coast. In the 1960s, as 140 years earlier, the Russians tried to defy the Monroe Doctrine by injecting their communist system into Cuba, followed by Nicaragua and Grenada in the early 1980s.
In 1960, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev announced at a press conference:
"We consider that the Monroe Doctrine has outlived its time, has outlived itself, has died, so to say, a natural death. Now the remains of this doctrine should best be buried as every dead body is so that it should not poison the air by its decay."
Two years later, President John F. Kennedy discovered that the Soviet Union had quietly built missile-launching sites in Cuba and had secreted almost 42,000 disguised Soviet troops into the island. What followed was the Cuban Missile Crisis, bringing the U.S. to the brink of nuclear war. In August 1962, Kennedy said at a press conference:
"The Monroe Doctrine means what it has meant since President Monroe and John Quincy Adams enunciated it, and that is that we would oppose a foreign power extending its power to the Western Hemisphere, and that is why we oppose what is happening in Cuba today. That is why we have cut off our trade. That is why we worked in the Organization of American States and in other ways to isolate the Communist menace in Cuba."
Supported by the OAS, Kennedy stood up to Khrushchev and encircled the island with a naval and air "quarantine" -- a word less bellicose than "blockade". Mobilizing for a possible invasion, Kennedy was also aware that a military strike at Cuba might inspire Russia to retaliate against West Berlin.
After several tense days of this Doomsday Clock ticking loudly, the Soviet Union agreed to withdraw the missiles and dismantle its sites. Reciprocally, the United States dismantled several obsolete air and missile bases in Turkey.
As laudable as was Kennedy's courage and iron resolve, the finale was not a clear-cut U.S. victory. Neither he nor subsequent presidents demanded that all Russian military assets be withdrawn from Cuba, as President Trump is now demandingfor Venezuela.
In 1979, President Jimmy Carter's Administration acknowledged that a Soviet brigade of about 10,000 men was garrisoned in Cuba. Incidentally, it was the Soviet Embassy, and not former U.S. leaders and intelligence officers, who notified the U.S. State Department of a "Soviet military advisory group" that had been in Cuba since 1962.
Kennedy's people, like subsequent administrations, had apparently forgotten about the threat. The issue of the Russians in the Western Hemisphere re-emerged with the growing activities of a brigade that was training Nicaraguan and Grenadan communist guerrillas who had come to power 1979.
On March 11, 1981, President Ronald Reagan evoked the principles, if not the name, of the Monroe Doctrine:
"On this side of the Atlantic we must stand together for the integrity of our hemisphere for the inviolability of its nations, ... and the right of all our citizens to be free from the provocations triggered from outside our sphere for malevolent purposes."
Reagan thus became determined to reverse a Leninist tide in Grenada, Nicaragua and the communist guerrillas in El Salvador and in other regions, such as Angola and Afghanistan.
After Reagan liberated Grenada in 1983, his tactic became not to invade Nicaragua, but instead to arm and support anti-communist guerrillas, later known as Contras, to fight the left-wing Sandinistas there. Reagan, apparently to persuade the Russians to leave, also approved sabotaging some strategic targets there.
In 1990, the Sandinistas lost free elections in Nicaragua. In December 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed, largely as a result of Reagan's doctrine and military policies, combined with pressure from radical Russian reformers.
Over the years, however, Russian President Vladimir Putin, while rejecting Bolshevism, has reverted to backing tyrannical, anti-American regimes, seemingly for geopolitical and economic reasons. In Nicaragua, in tainted elections, the Sandinistas also came back to power and have stayed to this day. So have their 21st century "socialist" allies in Venezuela, led by the late Hugo Chávez and now by Maduro.
As Lincoln supported Juárez, the legitimate President of Mexico, Trump has been supporting the democratic and legitimate Venezuelan president, Juan Guaidó. Not only has Maduro become the puppet of extra-hemispheric powers, particularly Russia and China, but he and his allies in Cuba and Nicaragua clearly maintain security ties with Russia and support a tyrannical "socialism" at home. All three, in Ambassador Bolton's words, constitute a "Troika of Terror" as well as a "Troika of Poverty."
Russia's successful invasions of Georgia in 2008 and Crimea in 2014 appear simply to have whetted Putin's appetite. Now, partly because of enormous investments that Russia and China have made in Venezuela's oil and defense industries, both superpowers are trying to save the Maduro regime by flying in military personnel (as is Russia) and weaponry (from both Russia and China). On April 29th media reports surfaced of Russian air-defense specialists deployed to Venezuela, evidently "sent to ensure the nation's sophisticated S-300 surface-to-air missiles remain a credible deterrent to any U.S. military action..."
Moreover, reports have emerged that Russia recently requested permission from Malta "to use its airspace to fly military aircraft from Syria to Venezuela," and that "two Russian military planes also flew through the airspace of Greece and Cyprus from Syria en route to Venezuela on March 22 and 23."
What else should President Trump do in Venezuela now? Under no circumstances should the Russians be allowed to bring in more troops, planes or war materiel by sea or air. Trump should follow Kennedy's example with a "quarantine" around Venezuela.
In addition, as Ambassador Bolton has said, "all options are on the table."
At the same time, it is probably a good idea to keep an eye on the Ukraine, where Putin has been offering fast-tracked Russian passports, as he did prior to his invasions of Georgia's South Ossetia and Abkhazia in 2008, and Crimea in 2014. It is also probably advisable for the US to help the Ukrainians reinforce their defenses there, especially around the city of Mariupol.
In addition, it might help to explain to the American people what is at stake for the Western Hemisphere in Venezuela -- like the earlier "Monroe Doctrine Societies" in the United States. Most Americans are possibly not aware that while most statues and busts of Lenin were torn down after the 1989 democratic revolutions in eastern Europe, Maduro had erected a bust of Lenin in Caracas at the 100-year anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution in 2017, and sent birthday wishes to Leninon April 22.
Last month, President Trump announced that, "The movement for freedom in Venezuela reveals that the twilight hour of socialism has arrived in our hemisphere."
The American people and its "southern brothers" need to know that the Monroe Doctrine protects everyone in the hemisphere -- from their own tyrants as well. As the Marquis de Lafayette noted, the Monroe Doctrine is the "best little bit of paper that God ever permitted any man to give to the world."
A member of the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations, Dr Jiri Valenta is a senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies in Israel. A former tenured professor at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, he testified at Henry Kissinger's Bi-partisan Commission on Central America in 1983. The author of Soviet Intervention in Czechoslovakia, 1968, Johns Hopkins, 1991, co-author of Conflict in Nicaragua, Allen and Unwin, 1987, and Grenada and Soviet/Cuban Policy: Internal Crisis and U.S./OECS Intervention, Westview Press, 1987.
© 2019 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.
VENEZUELANS TAKE TO THE STREETS --
ATTENTION MUST BE PAID!
June 25, 2017
“Unafraid, Bipartisan, Uphold U.S. and Freedom” is the motto of our institute. In 2014 Americans put great hope in Barack Obama’s supporting ongoing democratic revolutions in both Ukraine and Venezuela. In Ukraine we hoped he would provide defensive weapons to Kiev against Russian aggression: in both countries, we urged Obama’s vigorous support of democratic-minded dissidents with grants and economic aid from the National Endowment for Democracy [NED].
In March 2014, Democracy Digest, produced by the NED, referred to ”How the U.S. Can Help Two Democratic Revolutions – Ukraine and Venezuela,” my article written jointly with former Czech Ambassador to the U.S. Martin Palous, a veteran of Vaclav Havel’s Charter 77 revolutionaries, and originally published in the Miami Herald and Tico Times, Cost Rica.
Wrote Democracy Digest, “They reminded us that two democratic revolutions are occurring right now, one in each hemisphere ... Sadly, they haven’t been paid proper attention; their meaning and potential future impact not understood.”
That was 2014! The revolutions are still ongoing. The Obama administration disregarded our suggestions. It’s time to demand that attention must be paid!
Unafraid, Bipartisan, Uphold U.S. and Freedom