Earlier this year I wrote an article on how the media has been misleading the dialogue on Venezuela to suit the interests of the establishment (the White House and its main constituents along with much of what is considered the Western world). The dialogue has continued to be diverted from the truth in the weeks since. Much attention is paid to the idea that there is unanimous support for Guaido among the ruling elite of the world, however this entirely ignores that Maduro is still the UN-recognised, and democratically elected president of Venezuela.
A popular infographic (below) taken from Foreign Policy has been displayed in varying forms in many articles indicating where support bases for either Guaido or Maduro lie around the world. This may seem benign and helpful, but a simple glance at it should raise an eyebrow. There are three classifications ‘Backs Maduro’, ‘Backs Guaido’ or ‘On the Fence’. While much of the world has been coloured accordingly, a significant portion (most of Africa, East Asia, South Asia and South-East Asia) has been left grey. All of these nations are either in support of the UN-recognised president or are choosing not to involve themselves in the internal affairs of Venezuela. This kind of information would greatly sway the tone of the international political discourse against the wishes of the USA, its allies and client states, and so has not been included (this is not an uncommon practice).
But this article isn’t intended to be about the continued lies of the establishment media. The Venezuelan crisis is militarising. Guaido has been attempting to garner support from the Venezuelan military and has appeared alongside a small number of defectors recently in an attempt to persuade the people and other military members that the coup is progressing smoothly. While Guaido has gone about his business in trying to incite a military coup against his democratically elected government, the Washington establishment has been pondering its own options in toppling Maduro, typically no less militaristic than Guaido.
Word has emerged of Erik Prince, the brother of billionaire Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and previous owner of private military contractor Blackwater Group (that has rebranded as Academi since Prince’s selling of the group), has approached Trump-supporters and wealthy Venezuelan exiles for political support with a plan to topple the Maduro government with an army of 5,000 private mercenaries. Prince has reportedly mentioned the need for a ‘dynamic event’ in order to justify his invasion with private mercenaries. These meetings have taken place as recently as mid-April according to Reuters sources.
The military in Venezuela largely remains loyal to Maduro, leaving the possibility open for military intervention by a foreign power (the USA) on the table to help shore up power for Guaido. Whether this would be undertaken by the USA military or by private contractors remains up to the White House. Though sources close to the White House believe privatisation of a war effort there is unlikely, I would still like to discuss the reasons why the effort to topple Maduro should not be outsourced to Erik Prince (aside from the fact that he is the democratically elected president).
Since selling off his controversy-ridden Blackwater, Erik Prince has reopened his military-for-hire doors in China under the name Frontier Services Group. The Group claims that its primary duties include provision of security to Chinese expansion in Africa. Prince’s Blackwater previously made its notoriety by its involvement in the Iraq War and most significantly the Nisour Square Massacre of 2007. Their actions in Iraq led to Blackwater and Prince being blacklisted from performing military services in Iraq (Prince is now making inroads into Iraq through a subsidiary of his Frontier Services Group).
The privatisation of war should be a logical fallacy. To make profits directly from the fighting of wars should indicate a monetary incentive to have those wars continue, or even strive for perpetual warfare that can be taken advantage of. You might argue that mercenaries have always existed and for many centuries were a common mode of war-fighting. While this is true, it ignores that these mercenaries were engaged to fight battles against military or other mercenary targets, away from civilians rather than against or amongst them.
Outsourcing a war effort in South America would be disastrous for the continent and the world. A war effort at all would fuel more anti-US sentiment and extremism; by the White House’s own claims, there are already Hezbollah cells active in South America. This would likely destabilise neighbouring nations by huge emigration from Venezuela and from the continent toward the USA more generally. This is all aside from the chance that Erik Prince’s men would commit war crimes again and from the humanitarian issues that arise when talking about initiating a war on foreign territory in order to intervene in the domestic issues of that nation.
By Nathan Booth