It is quite extraordinary how on the one hand the US political-media class in the US is outraged, absolutely outraged, by alleged Russian attempts to sway US elections while at the same time they are openly calling for a military coup in Venezuela to overthrow president Nicholas Maduro and install Juan Guaidó as president. This is not the first time that the US has done it. The US expressed great joy when Hugo Chavez seemed to have been ousted only to end up with egg on its face when he beat back the coup.
President Donald Trump and his top aides on Tuesday swiftly endorsed an attempted government takeover in Venezuela, where opposition leaders backed by a band of rebellious soldiers are trying to oust strongman Nicolás Maduro.
Toppling Maduro would be a particularly salient political talking point for Trump because the president is trying to paint Democrats eyeing the White House as socialists who want to mimic Maduro’s style of governance. While Trump has spoken fondly of many other strongman leaders worldwide, including Russia’s Vladimir Putin, he has long harbored a particular dislike of Maduro.
“I am monitoring the situation in Venezuela very closely. The United States stands with the People of Venezuela and their Freedom!” Trump tweeted Tuesday afternoon.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CNN that Maduro “had an airplane on the tarmac, he was ready to leave this morning as we understand it, and the Russians indicated he should stay.”
“He was headed for Havana,” Pompeo added. The secretary also warned Maduro not to arrest Guaido, but declined to say if the U.S. had any red lines when it came to Venezuela.
National security adviser John Bolton, meanwhile, used both Twitter and a news conference to urge top Venezuelan officials to turn on Maduro, even as he insisted that Trump wants to see a peaceful transfer of power.
Note that Maduro is almost always referred to as a ‘strongman’ and not as the elected president of the country. The only tut-tutting in the US media is whether openly expressing support for a military coup is a good idea or whether the US should be more discreet in its efforts. The idea that what Guaidó is doing, calling on the military to overthrow the government and using foreign powers in support, would be considered treason if done in the US is never raised. No objections have been raised at the US deliberately sabotaging Venezuela’s economy through sanctions either.
It gets worse. After Maduro said that he had beaten back the coup attempt, the US threatened a military invasion.
Nicolás Maduro claimed his troops have thwarted a botched attempt to topple him masterminded by Venezuela’s “coup-mongering far right” and Donald Trump’s deranged imperialist “gang” – while on Wednesday morning the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, said US military action in the country was a possibility “if required”.
Maduro gave an hour-long address to the Venezuelan nation on Tuesday night – his first since the pre-dawn uprising began – in which he accused the opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, and his political mentor, Leopoldo López, of seeking to spark an armed confrontation that might be used as a pretext for a foreign military intervention.
It is telling that reporters do not ask US politicians how they can support military coups. The hypocrisy of the US political-media class knows no limits.