Venezuela: Now an Extreme Threat to the US?

The United States’ vendetta against Venezuela has been lately growing more serious; more sanctions have recently been leveled at 7 more Venezuelan officials and their assets have been frozen. President Obama is warning of the danger Venezuela poses to the US. In response, Venezuela has recalled its top diplomat from the United States, and President Nicolas Maduro is pledging to fight this display of US imperialism.

The Guardian notes that, “With inflation last year nearing 70%, a sharp economic contraction and growing shortages of basic goods, the Venezuelan government has turned to blaming an outside threat.” While yes, Venezuela is blaming the US for its woes, this is not entirely unwarranted. Venezuela’s socialist mentality has long been under attack–why would the US not be behind a smear campaign/opposition-funding assault on it? Not all of Venezuela’s problems would be fixed if the US took no interest in the country, but certainly America is making it no easier for Venezuela to recover–only easier for Maduro to point the finger at us.

Obama cites concern over Venezuela’s suppression of political opponents and states that the country’s problems cannot be fixed by “criminalizing dissent.” This is probably true, since even if criminalized, those political opponents won’t be so easily suppressed, since the US (through the National Endowment for Democracy and other such shell groups) is supporting them.   

It’s quite arguable, also, that the crackdown on whistleblowers or anti-police-brutality activists in the US could well be called “criminalizing dissent,” yet US officials don’t seem particularly concerned about that sort of intimidation.

Additionally, Obama has labeled Venezuela an “extraordinary threat to the national security of the United States.” Really? Venezuela’s government may be a threat to the US-supported opposition, or even to its own people for whom it cannot reliably provide basic goods and services, but how exactly does this endanger the United States? Do we expect Maduro to drop bombs on the White House? Is his declaration of fighting imperialism taken so literally?

Also, remember that in 1983 Reagan deemed the tiny Caribbean island of Grenada a threat to US national security. It’s a familiar tactic, and it rarely bears fruit (until, perhaps, after we intervene and then create the threat we supposedly intervened to stop… al Qaeda in Iraq, perhaps?)

And we all remember how much of a threat Grenada turned out to be… or, more likely, many of us don’t. That “extreme threat” has been relegated to the annals of history easily and conveniently forgotten, leaving “national security threat” a phrase easily bandied about to justify whatever actions are desired against whoever the newest unfortunate enemy of the week happens to be.