By Other Means

By   /   March 14, 2019  /   29 Comments

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When the US Government warned the rest of the world that, when it comes to securing regime change in Venezuela, “nothing is off the table”, most observers assumed it was talking about some form of military intervention. (An impression encouraged by a video-clip of National Security Advisor John Bolton’s hand-scrawled aide memoire “5,000 troops”.)

IF WAR is “the continuation of politics by other means” (Carl von Clausewitz) then cyber-war is the continuation of war by other means.

When the US Government warned the rest of the world that, when it comes to securing regime change in Venezuela, “nothing is off the table”, most observers assumed it was talking about some form of military intervention. (An impression encouraged by a video-clip of National Security Advisor John Bolton’s hand-scrawled aide memoire “5,000 troops”.)

Thousands of Gringo soldiers planting their combat boots on the sovereign territory of Venezuela was not, however, a prospect which many Latin American leaders relished explaining to their own people. Better by far to have the Venezuelan generals abandon President Nicolas Maduro in favour of the CIA’s hand-picked “Interim President”, Juan Guaido.

Unfortunately for Uncle Sam and his lickspittle lieutenants, the Venezuelan armed forces refused to follow the script Washington had written for them. Guaido was able to call out the Chavista’s sworn enemies among the Venezuelan elites and their middle-class enablers but, as the events of the past 20 years have proved, these guarimberos are insufficiently numerous to be decisive. The Venezuelan police, backed by the army and the popular militia, can contain their protests without resorting to deadly force.

Clearly, a change of strategy was required.

And, in the finest traditions of CIA, Pentagon and State Department contingency-planning, an alternative strategy was ready to hand. According a nine-year-old memo circulated by CANVAS (Centre for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies) back in 2010 – and subsequently released by Wikileaks:

“A key to Chavez’s [Hugo Chavez was the leader of Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution and Maduro’s predecessor in the presidential palace – C.T.] current weakness is the decline in the electricity sector. There is the grave possibility that some 70 percent of the country’s electricity grid could go dark as soon as April 2010. Water levels at the Guris dam are dropping, and Chavez has been unable to reduce consumption sufficiently to compensate for the deteriorating industry. This could be the watershed event, as there is little that Chavez can do to protect the poor from the failure of that system. This would likely have the impact of galvanizing public unrest in a way that no opposition group could ever hope to generate.”

Taking down Venezuela’s electricity grid was thus identified as a potentially decisive intervention.

CANVAS, by the way, was born out of the so-called “colour revolutions” that subverted the governments of, among other states, Serbia, Georgia and the Ukraine. It specialises in mobilising young people – usually middle-class students – who are sent onto the streets in what appears to be a campaign of spontaneous, non-violent resistance to autocracy. Behind the screen of these ongoing democratic protests, however, CANVAS unleashes much less acceptable political forces, trained and equipped by the CIA to bring down regimes deemed hostile to US interests. That CANVAS turned up in Venezuela surprised nobody familiar with its sinister record of political destabilisation.

As John McEvoy, writing for the left-wing UK website, The Canary, noted in his 12 March posting, “the Venezuelan opposition tried to include ‘damage to facilities of the National Electric System’ within an amnesty bill in 2016.” Tellingly, the bill demanded amnesty for the perpetrators of any and all protest activities directed at Venezuela’s socialist government since the abortive right-wing coup of 2002. The list was a long one and revealed the lengths to which the right was prepared to go to overthrow Chavez’s democratically elected administration.

With Venezuela’s “National Electric System” now well-and-truly damaged, the question is one of agency. The US Government and its multitude of mouthpieces have been quick to blame the nationwide outages on the maladministration of Maduro’s government. This is what happens, they insist, when socialists take over. Nothing works. Nowhere in these reports, however, is there reference to the US embargo on the export of the spare parts needed to keep Venezuela’s hydro-electric generators and transmission infrastructure operating. No mention, either, of the embargo on the coal exports Venezuela needs to fuel the national electric system’s back-up power stations.

Also lacking in the mainstream reports is the catastrophic effect of a prolonged electricity outage on the Venezuelan capital’s water supply. Caracas is situated nearly a kilometre above sea-level, which means that its fresh water supply must be pumped up to the capital’s inhabitants from below. Take out the electricity and you take out the pumps. People can make do without electricity for a few days, but they cannot survive without water.

In the words of the leaked CANVAS memo: “This could be the watershed event, as there is little that Chavez [or Maduro] can do to protect the poor from the failure of that system.”

The Venezuelan Government is under no illusions concerning those responsible for the current crisis. Maduro has declared his country to be the victim of a cyber-attack initiated and overseen by the US Government. To those who roll their eyes and complain about tinfoil-hat-wearing conspiracy theorists, supporters of the Venezuelan Government need only offer one word: Stuxnet.

Stuxnet was the highly-sophisticated computer “worm” developed by the USA and Israel and introduced to the IT infrastructure of Iran’s nuclear programme. It proved to be a devastating cyber-weapon, playing a major part in driving the Iranians to the negotiating table and removing the threat of an Iranian bomb.

Compromising the Venezuelan hydro-electric generation system would likely have proved a great deal easier. With the generals refusing to revolt and Guaido’s guarimberos unable to defeat the forces of law and order, it was time to resort to “other means”.

Really? Yes, really. Those who doubt the United States’ willingness to prepare for and launch such an attack should consider the words of Paul Buchanan, an American academic who has spent much of his life working in and around the US national security apparatus. Writing on his blogKiwipolitico on 28 February, Buchanan had this to say about the likely preparations for regime change in Venezuela:

“As the crisis accentuates and the impasse continues, US military planners will pour over maps and powerpoints, then hammer down the details of the means, methods and tactics to be used, as well as Plan B and C scenarios. Assets will be discretely transferred to staging areas and liaison with host militaries and resistance groups will be established. Strategic targets such as oil derricks and refineries will be given special attention.”

As well, it would seem, as Venezuela’s national electricity generation and transmission infrastructure.

Some people will no doubt say: “Well at least this is a bloodless intervention.”

Bloodless? Tell that to the patients who died in Caracas’ hospitals as the emergency generators gave out and the equipment upon which their lives depended ceased to function.

War, be it conventional war, or cyber-war, is hell – and always will be.

 

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29 Comments

  1. Matthew says:

    Do you really believe Maduro on this one, and still on anything he says? He has continued the railing against the USA begun under Chavez, and with less and less coherency or believability. To continue to try and blame a foreign power (not a nice one by any means but still a failure to take responsibility finger pointing) only prolongs the suffering of the Venezuelan people. The biggest problem Venezuela has is that this crisis has been so highly politicised that the left automatically defends Maduro and the right cheers for Guiado. This is wrong. Maduro must step down, and free elections must be enabled. The long term neglect of infrastructure is the reason this blackout is occurring, and regardless of who or what caused it, it should never have happened, and certainly should not be the subject of blame. It should be fixed. Clearly the flight of Venezuelans has affected the technicians available to repair this issue. But beyond this, how can a country that size rely on one power station to relay 80% of its electricity? That is a stunning lack of diversity and neglect of infrastructural resistance. Maduro has mismanaged the economy, stolen from the public coffers, and continues to feed his face while the average Venezuelan scrambles in the dark in the dirt to find a grain of rice. Dear Socialists, stop defending this dictator, he is not a socialist, he is a fascist. The Venezuelan situation is bad enough without political ideology making it even more complex. How would any of us chardonnay socialists cope with no power for a week, no running water, hyperinflation, lack of food, medicine? I dare say we would be asking for a new government too!

    • Sam Sam says:

      It’s arguable that the whole of Latin America reject there nothing cousin America outright with the acception of Brazilian President Balsonaro which is no reason to start falling in love with America again.

      Now that Venezuala is accepting aid and medicine from Venezuala further flipping the bird to fake western concerns, Venezualans can stand on there own feet instead of bowing to US pressure.

      And one thing is for sure, there’s no guarantee that Americas choice for Venezualan Presedent can actually win a fair election because he can’t even win a rigged one.

    • G.A.P. says:

      Matthew, two questions.
      1/ Do you support the Venezuelan people in there desire to govern there own country with there legally elected representatives,(verified by all independent observers) free from economy destroying sanctions?

      2/ Do you support the us empire rampaging around the world murdering millions with there bombings, sanctions, regime changes etc. all of course in the name of FREEDOM and DEMOCRACY?????

      • Matthew says:

        1) Yes

        2) No

        I am as anti US intervention as any good socialist, and I don’t like that so many Venezuelans actually support a US invasion, but that is what desperation can do to a suffering population. This is not a political issue, the left needs to stop supporting a dictator, and the right needs to stop attributing this crisis to socialism. Because an underlying principal of socialism is equality, and in Venezuela the political and military class enjoy an elitism that socialism should not tolerate.
        Military intervention is complicated, as Maduro has armed many vigilante forces, and the country is likely as over run with paramilitaries as Colombia a decade or so ago.
        I strongly dislike Trump, Rubio, Duque, Bolsonaro and almost all of the well known supporters of Guiado, but I don’t necessarily distrust in Guiado himself. I know there are other, darker forces involved, but if he is true to his word, the future could be better for all Venezuelans. I am fluent in Spanish so can read both Maduro and Guiado directly, without any media spin, and what they say is very telling. The anti-imperialist rhetoric that Maduro relies upon has become tiresome and unhelpful, and to many, unbelievable. Guiado speaks only of enabling free elections. Venezuela will need decades to recover from this, I am beginning the process of pulling my in-laws out of the country, probably too late, and when you have a personal connection to a situation like this, it cuts closer to the bone. But my underlying point is that Maduro is not a socialist.

    • Aaron says:

      Mathew you’re still calling an elected president a dictator so you’re obviously here to push a propaganda line.

      As to why you’re doing that or trying to spin verifiable facts as being a matter of left wing bias I don’t know, but once more please note the following:

      Maduro was democratically elected last year, as he was at the previous election. The elections were observed by Jimmy Carter and declared to be free of corruption.

      The people opposing Maduro have blood on their hands, they are positively evil and you are siding with them. I personally think you should be banned from this site for continuing to spread lies

    • David Stone says:

      Personally I would not be asking the US to provide us with our government as is the issue in Venezuela at the moment. I don’t think they are much good at providing themselves with a government.
      What news outlets do you read or listen to Mathew?
      D J S

      • Matthew says:

        I know a large number of Venezuelans that live here, and being married to a Venezuelan have some family in Venezuela also. I visited the country in early Chavez, 2005, and have always supported the Cuban Revolution, on which the Bolivarian Revolution was supposedly modelled. Most of the news I read is from socialist publications, some reasonably respectable publications like the Guardian, and the odd direct twitter (without having twitter) from Guaido and Maduro. I am more left than any politican in this country, in most countries in fact, but my argument is that Maduro does not qualify as a socialist, as socialism is based upon equality, and the only equality in Venezuela right now is that everyone is suffering. But he and his cadres are not, they continue to live comfortably. There is propaganda on all sides I know, and I don’t claim that I have the ability to decipher the truth from the trueish, but I do trust that some people to not have an agenda, and I do not believe that jailing your opposition can result in a free election. Yes up until now the Venezuelan opposition has been some scary rightwingers, but it hardly surprising given that Colombia has been run by them for a long time, and now Brasil has a scary president, Argentina also, Chile more ridiculous than silly but still right wing ignorant. If Guaido is true to his word and gives Venezuela free elections, then he will be the saviour. Maduro has not given these free elections, and now that he has begun jailing journalists because they rightly intimated that his cyber attack theory is impossible, only means he is more paranoid than ever. And paranoid dictators are no fun for their people. I don’t like the US meddling, most especially with Trump and Rubio and Bolton and others involved, and if their is a way to step Maduro down, without US intervention, then shout it out loud, and hurry up with it. But at this point, Venezuelans only want their freedoms back, it doesn’t matter how, even it means green-gos back in their yard.

  2. David Stone says:

    Thanks for the research and background Chris. Guido’s immediate statement that Maduro’s resignation would see power restored forthwith lends support to this explanation; as does Rubio’s comments within minutes of the first outage.
    It is to be hoped that the Venezuela public will recognise the probabilities. I think they will.
    D J S

  3. francesca says:

    The pedant in me takes issue with Paul’s “pour over”
    It’s “pore over”
    I read somewhere that Rubio, one of the nastiest Republicans ever was tweeting (gloating) about the outage within 3 minutes of it starting
    Most media outlets echo the stance of the Guardian, after careful consideration they deduce its the fault of socialism

  4. Jody says:

    Yeah sorry Matthew, I don’t buy that. I’m not a journalist based in the Americas and will probably never visit there, but from the reliable resources I have read who do have foreign correspondents (Abby Martin, George Galloway, RT, Democracy, The Intercept, etc.), the following points are fact:
    1. The Maduro-led administration is not perfect and has mismanaged the country mainly by lack of economic diversification. However the main reason Venezuela is suffering economically is due to crippling sanctions imposed by the US and subsequent threats by US to other countries if they trade with Venezuela. England has also gone so far as to deny the withdrawal of Venezuela gold from British banks. And gee it’s not as if Venezuela caused the GFC, or have destroyed the economies and lives of dozens of countries in the last 100 years is it?
    2. The attempted overthrow of Venezuela with explicit support from USA and others is not only inflammatory, self-serving and dangerous but also illegal. It is not in the interests of the majority of the country, certainly not the poorest. It is manufactured to take over the resources and to make money for the Venezuelan upper classes and their American conspirators.
    3. The ‘aid’ which was offered to Venezuela by USA is a complete joke; the millions offered is the equivalent of one day’s worth of US sanctions. The UN and Red Cross have distanced themselves from this stunt. Also the ‘aid’ trucks were not set alight by the Venezuelan army but opposition protestors.
    4. The bridge shown in news reports supposedly showing the Maduro army blocking a border to the aid was actually never even opened. Fake news indeed.
    5. Chances are, a nation hostile to Venezuela will do everything in their power to disrupt the country to steal its resources, through bullying, sanctions, misinformation, espionage or brutality.

    • David Stone says:

      Jody
      1. It seems to me that apart from retaining control of the oil company, Under Chavez and Maduro, nationalised before Chavez,Venezuela has managed her economy along basically neoliberal globalist lines; Selling what they had in natural abundance , and buying from outside what could be cheaply imported from other countries, notably in respect of food and medicines from the United States of America. Just as any neoliberal globalist enthusiast would advocate. This has been what is now called their mismanagement. Because it has exposed the country to the blockade that America now imposes. It was their co-operation with the globalist , neoliberal capitalist philosophy that has been their ” mismanagement” not socialism. A socialist administration would have made domestic agriculture the absolute priority along with the focus on education and health care.
      In the broader picture , how would a government go about bringing fairness to a society that is structured from the history of such a country?
      It was a European colony. All the useful land and resources have been in the hands of a few wealthy European farming and plantation owning families for hundreds of years, established by the virtual extermination of the indigenous people, and the removal of survivors from useful land. And developed and operated by slaves shipped over from Africa. The descendants of the colonisers still own everything and want to keep it. They probably managed their resources well too but that didn’t help the majority of the population.
      A transition from an economy run by and for the very few is not going to be turned into a socialist or egalitarian economy without seriously irritating some of its people , among whom I have no doubt Mathew’s inlaws are numbered.
      I know there are parallels here Mathew.
      Cheers D J S

      • Matthew says:

        I would agree (not the commentary on my family, my fault for mentioning them but you are reading my views, not theirs so if we can kindly strike them from the record), the lack of diversification is what is hurting Venezuela. The Cuban revolution’s success was based on maintaining their sugar plantations through agrarian reform, but transferring the ownership away from the Colonialists. Clearly Chavez never did such a thing. They have no agriculture, no dairy, 80% of their power is sourced via one plant, the economy was 150% dependent on oil, and now Maduro is 300% reliant on gold. Very banana republic ish indeed (reminds me of Aotearoa and mil powder). Personally I am 12% reliant on Venezuelan rum so if any of these ructions affect my supply lines I really might start speaking my mind.

        • David Stone says:

          Hi Mathew . Iv’e nothing against your inlaws ; all of us Europeans out of Europe have a similar ancestral colonial history. It is how the individuals behave within the situation they inherit that they are responsible for. And many slave owners ( Boilvar Included ) doubtless treated their slaves decently.
          Can you elucidate on this “and I do not believe that jailing your opposition can result in a free election.” I have of corse seen it said often before but have not found any information on just who has been jailed and why. Some references or local knowledge would be appreciated .
          Cheers D J S

    • Matthew says:

      Firstly RT is a russian government tv channel, and Russia is deep in with Maduro, buying gold because they can’t buy petrol. So I always take their opinion knowing that Putin has sanctioned it.

      1) I would argue that economic mismanagement = corruption. And most evidence points to that.

      2) The US led overthrow would be awful I agree. The hope is that when Maduro steps down, free elections can be guaranteed. And of course that the US keeps its grubby nose out of it.

      3)I tend to agree that the aid was a political manœuvre, not to say that it isn’t desperately needed, but the way it was played looked uber politicised.

      4)I also know this bridge was never inaugurated, but I understand the containers blocking it were placed in preparation for the aid convoy blockage? Please correct if this is wrong, I haven’t gone deep on that one.

      5)I also agree, and pretty much all of Latin America is hostile to Venezuela at the moment. The US is obviously far more scary than other latin countries, and as previously mentioned USA = BAD (Bad As the Devil hisself).

  5. John Bolton has apparently never seen a war he DISLIKED, and never seen a peace treaty, truce or ceasefire that he LIKED.

    I am no fan of Maduro – the guy is a complete nutter – and there is ample evidence of him and his policies being hugely damaging to Venezuela, but I can understand the nervousness about some sort of potential American intervention.

    I was not hot on Chavez either. Again, someone whose policies were counter to what was and still is needed to get Venezuela back on its feet.

    The problem is Russia has much time for Venezuela. I do not think it is as much time as they have for Iran, but Russia has in the past been invited to station bombers and send naval warships to visit. And the Venezuelan regime bang on about an impending American invasion.

    Lets be honest: if they were going to attack Venezuela militarily, they would have probably tried by now.

  6. Nick J says:

    There are some events of great significance occuring. The US lost round 1 in Venezuela, and got elbowed out of Syria. Afghanistan has been a nightmare, as has Iraq.

    Now it appears that the US military is out of date and incapable of winning. The carrier fleet are sitting ducks and can’t be deployed as an enforcer. Now they can’t even win wargames. ( https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/defense-disaster-russia-and-china-are-crushing-us-military-war-games-46677 ).

    Hard times for the Empire.

  7. Jody Joseph says:

    Although I’m not a journalist based in the Americas (and will probably never get a chance to even visit there), from the reliable resources I have read including those who do have foreign correspondents there (Abby Martin, George Galloway, Robert Fisk, Noam Chomsky, Chris Hedges, John Pilger, RT News, Democracy Now, The Intercept, etc.), the following points are fact:
    1. The Maduro-led administration is not perfect and has mismanaged the country mainly by lack of economic diversification. However the main reason Venezuela is suffering economically is due to crippling sanctions imposed by the US and subsequent threats by US to other countries if they trade with Venezuela. England has also gone so far as to deny the withdrawal of Venezuela gold from British banks. And gee it’s not as if Venezuela caused the GFC, or have destroyed the economies and lives of dozens of countries in the last 100 years is it?
    2. The attempted overthrow of Venezuela with explicit support from USA and others is not only inflammatory, self-serving and dangerous but also illegal. It is not in the interests of the majority of the country, certainly not the poorest. It is manufactured to take over the resources and to make money for the Venezuelan upper classes and their American conspirators.
    3. The ‘aid’ which was offered to Venezuela by USA is a complete joke; the millions offered is the equivalent of one day’s worth of US sanctions. Also the ‘aid’ trucks were not set alight by the Venezuelan army but opposition protestors.
    4. The bridge shown in news reports supposedly showing the Maduro army blocking a border and the aid was actually never even opened. Fake news indeed.
    5. Chances are, a nation hostile to Venezuela will do everything in their power to disrupt the country to steal its resources, through bullying, sanctions, misinformation, espionage, cyber attacks or brutality.

    • Marc says:

      You are generally right with the assessment of the present status quo. But for sanctions, only the very recently announced ones, by the US, to boycott Venezuelan petroleum exports (mostly to the US), they are now biting. Earlier sanctions were not that effective.

      Also has Maduro and his regime kicked an own goal. It may have looked like a principled stand to opt out of the IMF and World Bank, as Venezuela did, as far as I remember, but that also denied the country credit from creditors and lenders, who would usually be prepared to led it money.

      They have certainly failed to diversify the economy, and relied too much on petroleum exports to pay for welfare and other transfers.

      This is at least partly a home made crisis that hits Venezuela, and so we must look with sorrow at how events unfold. What resistance is there, people will fall for the promise of money, and ‘invite’ the US and other ‘liberators’ eventually, as most people are corrupt.

  8. Marc says:

    I wonder who took Fakebook down for 4 hours today?

    The war of the future, which is already here.

  9. Marc says:

    Kiwis don’t care about this kind of stuff, e.g. ‘Venezuela’ or even ‘Bolivarian Revolution’, they want to know where to get the cheapest burger.

    • Sam Sam says:

      Why not get yourself a traditional kiwi girl instead. Most expensive meal you’ll ever eat…

      • Marc says:

        Too much of a liability perhaps, in some cases. That is apart from the informed and educated ones.

    • Ngungukai says:

      New Zealanders wouldn’t have a clue what is going on out in the World we believe what the Nanny Herald, TV One, Newshub & what Mike Hoskins & Duncan Garner tell us.

      • Marc says:

        I can attest to that. But it does not forbid persons seeking info some where else, does it?

      • Jody says:

        A couple of days ago, I watched a host on NZ’s public broadcaster TV1 Breakfast ‘urge’ the NZ public to try a new dance move she had seen on social media. This is the level of critical thought and reportage on this channel. Over on The AM Show, Garner was mumbling something about ‘The inmates have taken over the asylum’. Indeed they have Duncan, and it’s going to this Labour-lead government to bring you and the other inmates under control. Again, close to worthless clickbait, knuckle-dragging entertainment lifted off social media masquerading as journalism.

  10. Matthew says:

    The latest information from Venezuela: ‘A new report from the Central University of Venezuela’s faculty of engineering confirmed that the blackout was caused when a bush fire near the Malena substation in eastern Venezuela took out a vital section of the country’s power grid.’

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/mar/14/venezuela-blackout-power-returns

    Will Maduro now blame a Marco Rubio controlled drone for starting the fire???


 
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