News and opinions on the situation in Venezuela
Understanding the minds of the neocons: Oil wars, attacks on the Venezuelan revolution and the corruption of US democracy
Published: Sunday, July 16, 2006
Bylined to: Jesus A. Rivas
Universidad Central de Venezuela (UCV) research biologist Jesus A. Rivas Ph.D. writes: The world has fallen under the reign of the neoconservatives but most people do not really understand what their world is like and often are fooled by the appearances in which it is often disguised.
I believe this is the reason why many of my fellow liberals and free thinkers often mistake the actions of the neoconservatives.
By training, I am no economist or political scientist, but and ecologist, in particular an ethologist … Ethology is the naturalistic study of behavior and in my specialty careful observation of the behavior of the animals is key to understand their life. Here is what I have learned from observing the neocons. I point out a few issues in where I believe my fellow liberals are mistaken in their interpretation of the neocons and offer an alternative explanation to the observations.
The US government needs to change the intelligence system that gave the faulty intelligence that lead to a mistaken war.
This is one of the situations in which we may be mistaken to judge the Bush administration this way. It was clear that there were no WMD before the war. If they had had any evidence, Collin Powell would have been sure to present it at the UN where he was rallying support for the war.
The fact that he only showed cartoons suggests that they had nothing.
In fact, more than likely they had very good intelligence saying that Iraq did NOT have WMD.
The contention that the US knew for sure that there were no WMD in Iraq explains two things:
First, why the Bush administration rushed to invade Iraq. If the weapons inspectors had continued their inspection and confirmed beyond reasonable doubt that there were no WMD, it would have been too late for the US to launch an invasion. Thus they had to begin the invasion while there was still some doubt that there might be some WMD.
Second, there is good evidence that the US knew for a fact that there were no WMD and that they launched the invasion, regardless.
Clearly the Bush administration would have not risked a war against a really dangerous enemy that had the potential to produce tens of thousands of casualties, for the high political cost that it would have had. So, more than likely, THE reason they launched the invasion is because they had GOOD intelligence that told them for a fact that there were no WMD and it was therefore a “safe” country to invade.
Supposition: The US does not have a clear and consistent strategy of exit in Iraq.
This is not true either|: The US has a very clear and consistent plan to withdraw from Iraq.
The US will pull out when the last drop of oil has been pumped out of Iraqi reserves. This is, of course, not what we are being told, but their behavior has been very consistent with this. The reasons that are given for the benefit of public opinion have not been consistent and they keep switching as they are proven false. That does not mean they do not have a plan to withdraw from Iraq … they are just not disclosing it because it collides with all the values and principles the advocate and they use as smoke screen for their actions.
Supposition: The US is stuck in a second Vietnam and it does not know how to stop a war that it can’t win.
Well, there is some truth to it, but also a major mistake.
It is true that there are similarities between Vietnam and the war in Iraq. Both are genocidal wars, that had no justification and neither of them should have ever happened. In both cases the US was involved in a war that they could not win.
Now there’s a fundamental difference. The reason that the US got into Vietnam … albeit wrong … (the real reason they withheld from the public) … they did not have any hidden agenda to get into Vietnam … unlike Iraq.
The minute the US realized that it could not win in Vietnam, they started to hope for a good moment to leave without looking too defeated … and they did so when the situation was considered proper.
This is not the case in Iraq.
The US government has no intention of leaving Iraq as long as it has oil.
They want to continue occupy Iraq until they drain it of all of its oil. They will probably try to transfer control to mercenaries or warlords instead of military personnel. They may try even more to destabilize the country hoping to divide it and create smaller countries that (like Kuwait) could be dominated more easily.
Most democratic senators are spineless not to support an bill to withdraw from Iraq by the end of the year because they are fear to be called unpatriotic.
I would agree that some of them may feel this way. Some democratic senators may think it is too risky for their career to take a strong position.
Now let’s not lose focus here … all senators in the US senate know that the only way the US can continue being the country that it has been, is by having military control of all the oil fields in the world. If the US were to have to negotiate the price of oil like Europe does, the expense it would mean for the country, and the toll it would be on the economy (just imagine the gas at some $8 or $10 a gallon) … the country would collapse.
The democratic senators know all too well that if they were to run the country (and this is the hope of all senators, of course) without military control of the Arab oil they would really have a hard time changing our status of living to a more environmentally safe style. Just look at the reactions of the all senators when vice-president Gore vowed to signed up the the Kyoto protocol Even Senator Wyden from Oregon condemned Gore stating “we cannot abide by Kyoto without producing an economic meltdown.”
So the democratic senators are actually relieved that it was Bush and the Republicans who spearheaded the attacks against Iraq … nobody should count on them to pull out or to stop further attacks in oil-rich countries such as Iran, Venezuela, Nigeria, or even Darfur.
Supposition: If the US leaves Iraq there will be a civil war
And what do you call it now?
We must admit that the population of Iraq is and will necessarily be a population that does not like the United States. After the invasion, tortures, genocides and all the atrocities, it is just normal that the people of Iraq will not be pro-US. It does not have to be a pro-terrorist, pro-Al-Qaeda government … but we must admit that whatever government represents the will of the Iraqi people, it will not be a government that is cooperative with US international politics.
There is no way out of it … imagine that the country was “pacified” and that US troops left! The minute the troops leave, there’ll be a public uprisings that will overthrow the pro-US government the US leaves behind. Then we may have a civil war breaking out anyway.
So it is pretty obvious to me that there will be a civil war (or at least some serious civil unrest) anyway. Except that, after the US leaves, it will be the beginning of a solution … a solution (painful as it may be) that will not begin until then.
In fact, the main beneficiary of a civil war in Iraq is actually the United States of America.
If the country breaks down in civil wars, the two or three belligerent groups would need weapons, money etc., and to obtain them, they’ll have to give away their oil, with no bargaining, and at whatever price the weapon supplier (more likely the US itself!) wants.
So it is very likely that the US troops are still in Iraq trying to MAKE SURE that they unleash a civil war. There’s ample evidence that all the recent attacks on mosques and religious sites are more the action of the CIA than of Muslim groups … the latter are not very likely to attack Muslim sacred sites.
By the same token, an Islamic fundamentalist may be willing to blow up other people he sees as their enemy … but the same faith that moves him to commit some extreme actions would prevent him from attacking other sacred sites. It is very clear to me that these attacks on mosques are simply the hand of the CIA trying to produce divisions among Muslim factions.
So far, they have taken the bait and their religious leaders are quick to point it out for their followers. We in the West should not fall for it.
Supposition: Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is crazy to restart a nuclear program and by doing it he is risking an invasion by the US.
This is what the corporate media wants people to believe.
The truth is, as it was demonstrated with the invasion to Iraq, that if a country has the oil that the US wants it has two choices. It can give it up, like Saudi Arabia, or it will be invaded by the US if it tries to negotiates with it and obtain a fair deal for their oil. The invasion of Iraq also demonstrated that there is no point in playing ball and complying with the demands of the West regarding disarmament, non-proliferation and so on.
Once the US wants your oil it will take it, no matter what the country does. Iraq had disarmed and still got invaded.
Why comply with the US’s requests if it will not grant you peace?
It was also demonstrated that no international organization, like the UN or European country, or union of countries, will do anything to defend a small country against the US.
Now, on the other hand, we have North Korea’s nuclear program that shows beyond reasonable doubt that a country with the proper weapons can defy the West and not be invaded.
What are the options of the Iranian people?
Nobody can blame the Iranian people for wanting a nuclear program, not even if the program were for nuclear weapons. It has been demonstrated that no other options will grant sovereignty of the country or protection against the US.
In fact, once it is clear that the US has its eyes on invading the country, there is no point in waiting until they’re done with Iraq and Afghanistan so that they can focus all their forces and troops in invading Iran.
It is rather smart to start a nuclear program now that the US is way too spread out and does not have all military power in shape. In fact, if you consider that this is an election year in the US, when it would be harder for Bush to start another war without having won any of the two he has begun, it stands to reason that to start a nuclear program in Iran now is a rather brilliant move.
I want to make clear that I am not advocating nuclear proliferation. If it was up to me, all countries should disarm. But the truth is that the country with biggest nuclear arsenal is by far the most likely to start a war. So long as the US is out of control and there is not international or internal control for the US military and expansionism, the other countries (certainly smaller countries with some wealth) need to fend by themselves and do what ever they can to defend their sovereignty.
Those that think that nuclear proliferation is a problem that needs to be attacked, should rather worry about the US more than about Iran or even North Korea. After all Iran has not started a war for more than 200 years … while the record of the US is a lot worse only in the last 40 years.
Supposition: The other big supplier of oil is Venezuela … but if the US invades Venezuela the people if the US will not accept it, as it would be a clearly unjustified invasion
And what will the people of the US do?
Will they go to a general strike demanding the president pull the troops back?
Or will they poor come out to the streets and block the roads, paralyzing all traffic and economy forcing the government to come to its senses?
Or perhaps they will seize the White House, surrounding it with tens of thousands of people until the captive president gives up and orders the invasion to stop?
We know all too well that the answers to these questions are no, no and no…
If the US invades Venezuela, even if it was an openly abusive takeover like in Grenada or Panama, the people will come out in disgust saying they can’t believe that the US invading a smaller country with a democratic government that has done nothing against the US!
This is what liberal, well-informed and concerned citizens of the US will say … and sadly this as far as they will go. The rest of the population won’t even notice. There’ll be no real movement or action of people to really force the invasion to stop.
If you think I’m being ironic and you believe that the people’s disapproval will force the US government to change look at the big picture, think again.
Before the war on Iraq, the people in the UK were very clear and adamantly against the invasion. More than 80% of the population was vehemently opposed to the UK invading Iraq. What did Tony Blair do? Did he listen to his concerned constituency as corresponds an elected representative to follow the will of the people?
Of course not … he joined the invasion anyway, against the will of the British people. Then, I thought that at least he was going to pay political price, and that in the next elections the people were going to bill him for his actions. Boy was I wrong! He won completely unopposed!
We cannot possibly hope to have a stronger popular opposition to the war in the US than the British people had back in 2003 against the invasion of Iraq … and we have seen how useless that was to, both, stop Blair invading Iraq and how useless it was to have the US president pay a political price for not listening to the people.
Everything comes down to that fact that people in the UK are doing too well to bother and they’re too comfortable in their system and do not want anything to really change. Even though they may be very seriously opposed to the actions of their government, they do not want it to change or the risk they may lose the comfortable life they have.
If we apply the same reasoning to the case of a possible US invasion to Venezuela (even if it is an open, unconcealed invasion, which it might not) it is clear that it is not the people in the US, the crowd that will pour out to make Bush stop his abuses.
No my friends … it is clear that if there is an invasion of Venezuela, the only defense will be Venezuela’s own strength, the new developments on asymmetric warfare and war of fourth generation and the support that may come from Venezuela’s friends and many allies that Chavez is cultivating around the world with policies of cooperation and solidarity.
Supposition: Well, all the atrocities that Bush has committed have been bad, but his administration has been such a failure that congress will soon go back to democratic control and the next elections are a sure win-win for the democrats.
Think again. This is the kind of thinking that has led the democrats to sink this far into the hole they have created for themselves. With the complicity of the media and the power to scare the people any way they want at any time they want, the Republican party can pretty much be assured of winning elections for a long time into the future unless there is a real change in the country’s political landscape.
We may be tempted to think that there is alternation of parties as there have always been. The truth, I believe, is different. The 2000 election was a turning point in the political history of the United States. As we know, the Neocons have been overthrowing presidents, installing dictators, rigging election around the world for decades. However, they had never dared to do it inside the US.
The only way that the Neocons can be unseated is with a candidate that is so popular and counts with such as strong lead over the Neocon candidate that rigging the elections would not be feasible, or believable.
Look at Bolivia. Evo Morales won the previous elections, 4 years ago, but the lead was not strong enough. The elections were stolen from him and Sanchez de Lozada ended up being president. This time around, Evo had such as strong margin that if they had rigged them nobody would have bought it. The same thing happened in Haiti: Preval was too far ahead for the elections to be stolen, and when they tried, they saw what could happen if the masses rose.
However, look and what happened in Costa Rica, Colombia and Peru … the lead of the leftist candidate was not big enough and the media could hide it and steal the elections for the conservative candidate.
Now in Mexico we are seeing the same process, but the lead of Lopez Obrador is stronger so the stealing of the elections is been more difficult. The difference will be, like in Haiti, whether the people are willing to rise and demand the result to be respected.
The conclusion is that the only way a progressive president can win in the US is if s/he has a very strong lead and is willing to cry foul play and rally the people to demand respect for the results … otherwise s/he do not have a chance.
The neocons will not let any election be free or fair in the future and no candidate will beat them again with a narrow lead.
What are the odds that a democratic candidate will defeat the republican with a landslide?
And what are the odds that a democratic candidate whose election has been stolen will be willing to ask his constituency to disregard the manipulated result and take to the streets to demand the real result to be enforced?
Well, there is no doubt in my mind that no candidate who appeals to the center and to the right will galvanize the voters and recruit from the 50% of people that don’t vote, unless s/he presents a really different agenda than the neocons.
I do not see that happening for the 2008 elections with any of the candidates that we hear about so far. The possible candidates emerging from the democratic party are all soft centrists or right wingers that will try to steal conservative votes from the Republican. Even if they succeed in getting more votes, the elections will be stolen from them.
This is exactly what happened to Al Gore and John Kerry … and will happen to any candidate who tries the same game. If the margin is not some 20 points ahead, the elections can be certain to be rigged for the Republican party. The odds that some of these candidates will disobey the rigged electoral result and ask their constituency to take to the streets is even lower. So if you are hoping for the Democrats to come back soon and fix all these problems … have a seat and do not hold your breath!
Unfortunately, few people in the Democratic party seems to be aware of this issue and they seem to keep playing politics as usual: do not commit, compromise, appeal to the center and so on.
Another alternative is that a third party really took this flag (perhaps splitting the Democratic party) and dragged good number of voters that currently do not vote to the polls. In this case the liberal votes will be split between the democrats and the more liberal party so the republicans will be sure to win again. So, much to my chagrin I have to say that even though I do not know the name of the candidate, I am pretty convinced that the election of 2008 will be won by a Republican. And I fear it might not be a semi-decent Republican like, say, John McCain … but a hard core neocon of the likes of W.
Supposition: Well, I am not sure that the Neocons will really subvert the democratic order that could be a real problem and this is their country after all.
If you think that the neocons will not do anything and everything to rig the next elections you are simply not paying attention. The Bush administration has shown no sign of restrain or consideration for the law or the interests of the country. What would stop them taking advantage of the full control they have on government? Why would they risk losing some power now that they have conquered it all?
Furthermore, they have committed so many atrocities and so many violations of the rule of laws that they cannot afford to risk lose control and let someone into power who might possibly bring them to justice.
Look what is happening in Chile.
After almost 2 decades now, Pinochet and his acolytes are being prosecuted for their crimes.
Think about the big players, such as Henry Kissinger, Bush senior and the like.
Now that the evidence of the involvement of the White House in the overthrowing of Allende has been proven by declassified documents, they could/should be facing charges in the international courts.
If Posada Carriles had been caught by a neutral country that would have sent him to face trail in Venezuela, Cuba, Chile or Italy (countries where he is been requested) there is a possibility that the name of Bush Senior would have come to the surface in the trail (as he was the head of the CIA when Posada Carriles blew up the plane of Cubana de Aviacion).
The neocons have gone so far that they cannot afford to lose the grip on the power they have. Bush is a young man … he will survive many years after he is no longer a president. If justice came to this country (USA) in the following, say, 20 years, it is not impossible that he may be asked to answer for his crimes.
In a way this may be a bit of wishful thinking on my side, if it ever happens, but the consequence is that because of this possibility the neocons will not relinquish power unless they are forced to.
Other than their greed for power, their butts are now on the line.
Supposition: There is no point in trying to get Bush in jail because being a president he will never go to jail. It would be great if we at least can get him impeached.
What is the point in trying to have him impeached?
We know what impeachment really means. It is what may happen to a president that has an extra-marital love affair. For the kind of genocide the Bush is committing, impeachment is more like a reward. No, my friends, he deserves jail time, and a lot of it.
Well, there is one thing certain. If a president is never to be prosecuted for his crimes, if nobody ever tries to make him pay, he’ll certainly never go to jail. Think about it. The next time that a retired professional football player kills his ex-wife and her boyfriend and there is overwhelmingly evidence he did it, there is a good chance he will go to jail. The first time that it happened it was a real shocker and everybody said that he would not be found guilty because such a big star would not go to jail in this country. It turned out to be true, he did not go to jail.
But now that the idea that a big star may go to jail has been on people’s mind for a few years things are different.
Next time one does it, s/he will end up in jail.
The same thing happens with presidents. After so many presidents in Latin America committing so many atrocities, some eventually ended up paying … at first little, like the slap on the wrist to Carlos Andres Perez in Venezuela … but subsequently, South American presidents are now facing more serious charges (Look at Fujimori from Peru, Gutierrez from Ecuador, Sanchez Lozada from Bolivia to mention a few). The same thing can happen here. If Bush faces a trial, it may be possible that he might dodge jail time, but once that happens the precedent is set for the next one to actually pay for his crimes. That would be the pressure needed for next presidents not to be so shameless.
Violence is unacceptable at any level, the only legitimate way to resist and make a difference is using peaceful resistance. Look at the movement of Ghandi and Martin Luther King.
These are quite admirable people that did quite the right action at the proper time. However, this is not a solution for everything. Peaceful resistance only works in cases where the aggressor is under the wide scrutiny of the public opinion and it is only willing to do coercion violence. In other words the oppressor uses violence to change the behavior of the people and make them conform. When the oppressor is willing to exert unspeakable violence against the people, protected by shadows, when the aggressor is willing to exterminate the resistance, peaceful resistance does not work quite as well.
That is what happened to Salvador Allende, who refused to arm the people and resist by force the military uprising of Pinochet. It is true that he might not have succeeded that way either, but the fact remains that his lack of violence did not give him any advantage against the coup.
We do not know if any of his supporters tried that one in that stadium in Santiago de Chile but if they did, it is certain that it did not work either. Peaceful resistance did not work much either in East Timor in 1991. Wherever the oppressor is willing to exterminate the crowd without mercy and there is not public scrutiny for what they have done, peaceful resistance, simply does nor work.
Peaceful resistance can work better in a system in which the oppressor only wants to subdue the people but does not want to exterminate them. Both the Indian people as well as the black people in the US were needed for the system, and the intention of the oppressor was to subdue them, not to get rid of them. In that case, a mass that is brave enough to hold the attacks without striking back is particularly scary. Mostly, for the fact that that crowd is peaceful out of choice. There was nothing, other than the will of the people, holding the black people from turning violent. That lingering threat on the mind of the oppressor (even if it is only there) makes them back up and stop the violence.
In recent history we saw the elections in Haiti in the process of being stolen, the crowd that supported Preval went to the streets and demonstrated in a mostly peaceful way, but they make no effort to disguise that they could turn into a much more violent movement if the result of the elections were not respected. We saw the results.
Now, the way I see this, is that the great popularity of non-violent resistance among the liberals is nothing but an instrument of the regime to make sure that no real threat rises on the system. That is an easy hook to swallow for people like ourselves who have seen what violence can do, despise it and its reaches … so we are quick to embrace a solution that does not bring along more atrocities. But by doing that, we might be setting ourselves up for failure. When the movement seems to be becoming stronger, then it would be very easy to plow it with brutal force and restart the system.
Games theory is a field of research that uses models to predict the outcome of certain systems assigning a currency for their actions and a value or cost for success or failure. It predicts that when two individuals meet in a conflict, that one that is willing to exert most violence always wins that encounter.
In a system where all the individuals act that way, everybody looses (as Ghandi said wisely, an eye for an eye leaves everybody blind). But whenever a violent individual enters a peaceful system it wins every time.
Simple models do not predict well what may happen to an individual that switches from one behavior to the other and asserts the behavior of its opponent … that way is more likely the behavior found in nature.
This predicts the behavior of honey bees as well as the behavior of humans … there is wisdom in nature that we should not ignore in politics. That is why Chsvez is wise when he says: “our revolution is peaceful but is not unarmed.”
Supposition: The Bush administration is giving out the country to the Christian right and giving in to all their demands.
This might seem to be the case superficially when looking at some actions but, make no mistake, the neocons serve none but themselves.
The Christian right are not the master minds and rulers of the Bush administration, they are rather a group of naive, easy-to-manipulate fools whose interests, superficially, match those of the Neocons.
When the Neocons want a popular outcry for some reason to back up their causes, divert attention from a real problem or attack an enemy, they can always count on a crowd of fools that will readily back up their position so long as they use the right buzzwords and press the right keys.
Now and then, the Neocons are sure to throw them a bone to keep them happy, but the core of their agenda is the maximization of profit and not the moral or religious values of any one. If you’re not convinced, let me give you an example or two. Consider the case of embryonic stem cells research. The Christian right opposes it feverishly for its links with potential abortions. It might look like the Neocons are lined up along with them BUT wait until there’s a new development. Just imagine (and this is very likely to happen too) that a drug company manages to develop and patent a procedure that allows the cure of a handful of these diseases that the use of stem cell could cure.
The minute, the split second, that a big drug company (say, Rumfeld’s for instance), has the control and patent of a procedure and is ready to make an obscene amount of billions with it … in that very instant, they will drop the Christian right like a bad habit. In that moment they will make up some excuses, claim how Christian it is to heal people and allow the use of the medication while they throw another bone to the Christian right about one of the many things they feel passionate about (say put back the ten commandments in public offices, or propose a ban for gay marriage).
Anybody can grow pot in their own house and there’s no way one of the companies can monopolize the production and distribution of it. If that were the case, you can rest assured that medical pot would be legalized too … despite the opposition of conservatives.
The neocons serve none and have loyalties to none either.
Supposition: The US has for a long time having a strong rhetoric against Cuba but they are not going to start any more serious actions that just wait until Fidel Castro dies or resigns
That could have been the strategy, or hope of the neocons before we got to the current energy situation. Most of the oil in the US comes from the Mexican Gulf that is only Mexican by name. The oil deposits in the Mexican Gulf are distributed among three different countries: Mexico, the US and … yes … Cuba. Part of the oil deposits of that piece of ocean are under Cuban waters. In fact Cuba’s oil reserves have the capacity to produce 1 million barrels a day.
So it is clear that the US wants the US oil very badly.
Most people in this country may think that Fidel is so old that they may was well wait until he passes away and then the US could do business with Cuba and buy their oil as they buy from, say Mexico or even Venezuela.
Well, the truth is that even after Fidel Castro leaves office, Cuba will have the same regime and they will not be very willing to give away their oil the way Mexico or Saudi Arabia does. They will rather have to pay the prices that any sovereign country demands (this is the crux of the headaches that Venezuela has given to the Bush administration).
So if the US wants to control Cuba’s oil the way the want to control all the oil, they need to take it by force, just as the have done and keep trying in the Persian Gulf.
So when would be a better time for the Bush administration to take the Cuban oil by force?
After all these years demonizing Fidel Castro they have done a good job and even the great majority of liberals in the US see Fidel as a bad person and strong-handed dictator. It would be a lot easier to justify an invasion while Fidel is in office than after he leaves. Given his age, I fear that that attempts to invade Cuba might not be too far ahead. Furthermore, if you consider that Bush has only two more years in office, it seems very clear that we may be looking at some very serious attempt to invade Cuba in the next couple years.
Probably not before the November elections, but if it looked like they are going to lose seats in the Senate they may precipitate it since a new Senate might not be as condoning as this one has been.
The concern of the Cuban people seems to be right on target!
Jesus A. Rivas