Beating the drums for war with Venezuela

The Trump administration is currently beating the drums of war on two fronts: Venezuela and Iran. The US media love war and war talk since that drives up ratings. One of the surest signs of preparation for war is when the US media falls in line whenever the US government starts issuing threats to other nations about possible invasions. The media then uncritically parrots the government’s talking points and even goes further and makes stuff up. Take this report from CNN from Sunday that has this sentence.

It comes as pressure is mounting on Maduro to step down, following elections in January in which voters chose opposition leader Juan Guaido over him for president.

There are two falsehoods in just that single sentence. There were no elections in Venezuela in January and in the last election in 2018, Guaido didn’t even run. Furthermore, Maduro was elected as president in the last election while Guaido has never been elected president. As Jason Ditz writes:

In reality, Venezuela’s presidential election was held on May 20, 2018. The opposition boycotted the vote, Maduro won with 67.8% of the vote, while Guaido did not participate at all.

Indeed, the only time Juan Guaido participated in a presidential vote of any kind was the 2012 Democratic Unity Roundtable’s presidential primary, which he lost. Guaido’s first claim to the presidency came in January of 2019, when he unilaterally declared himself “acting president.”

Yet the Trump Administration not only endorsed Guaido as president at this time, they’ve begun referring to him as the “duly elected” president despite such an election never taking place. US media outlets have parroted that claim, but CNN took it a step farther to invent the election too.

The CNN article was written by two senior writers, and had four others contribute to it. It is hard to imagine that none of them caught this false claim of a January vote. Yet the article remained unchanged throughout Sunday and overnight, and it was only some time on Monday that it was finally revised to say that Guaido had “declared himself interim president.”

How can a news organization like CNN say things so obviously wrong in the first place? It is because the media has swallowed and is now regurgitating the idea that Guaido is the legitimate president of Venezuela, Maduro is an usurper, and anything that supports that narrative is taken as presumptively true and needs no fact-checking. Facts no longer matter as long as what is said supports the current administration push for war. As Noam Chomsky has pointed out so many times, if you say things that support the administration’s war rhetoric, you do not need facts or evidence or even logic. Those things are demanded only from those who challenge the conventional wisdom or warmongering.

While this is going on, let us not ignore the ratcheting up of war rhetoric and tensions with Iran, with the US sending warships into the Strait of Hormuz because of unsubstantiated threats that Iran is planning to attack US forces in the area. The ‘intelligence’ supposedly comes from Israel, hardly a disinterested source since Israel has long been egging the US into going to war with Iran on its behalf. This could be the beginning of a Gulf of Tonkin set up for war, and we know how well that turned out.


  1. KG says

    Pompeo has cancelled a meeting with Angela Merkel, and flown to an unspecified destination, apparently east from Finland, citing unspecified “international security issues”. The flight direction suggests a meeting in Russia. Hoping to get Putin to agree to an invasion of Venezuela andor an attack on Iran? But at the meeting in Finland, of the Arctic Council, Pompeo not only refused to sign up to a cjoint declaration because it referred to climate change, he denounced Canada’s claim to sovereignty over the “North-West Passage” through its islands, which is decreasingly ice-covered. Could it be that the rhetoric over Venezuela and despatch of a task force to the Middle East are just feints, and the real invasion target is Canada :-p?

  2. springa73 says

    Although I think that Maduro leads a rather ugly and brutal government, I can’t see a US military intervention making things any better. I was just reading an article earlier today about how the Christian population of Iraq has shrunk from around 1.4 million to less than 200,000 since the US invasion in 2003, as hostility towards and persecution of Christians has forced the majority to flee awful conditions and danger to their lives. The same thing is happening now in Syria as well. US military intervention seems more likely to hurt the people that its supporters might think they are helping.

  3. bmiller says

    springa: You are being naïve. The only people American foreign policy is designed to “help” is the military-industrial-complex, vampire squid financial capitalism, and local elites craven enough to participate in our rapine Leviathan capitalism. Everything else is propaganda.

  4. Sam N says

    @4, I think the point Springa was making is that our military industrial complex can rely on white evangelicals to support every aggressive action the oligarchs (that you note) take, so long as they couch it in the name of christianity, capitalism, or (the most hilarious of all) democracy. Those evangelicals never seem to learn and always believe we are helping a christian cause.

  5. bmiller says

    Sam N: I know I know. 🙂 Just making it explicit.

    I have to admit that I did not even know these facts about the elections. I assumed that the propaganda story was at least…partly… true vis a vis the Big G contesting a corrupt election. I have been learning otherwise, of course.

    The REALLY scary situation is that the War Pigs like Bolton really, really want a war with IRAN. Do YOU want to die for The Mustache (or Likud)? I know I would not!!

  6. says

    Well, Iran is threatening to pull out of the agreement now for reasons but honestly because they’ve realized there is nothing that they can do to stop an American Empire determined to attack them short of the threat of having their own nukes. That’s a lesson North Korea has taken to heart.

  7. Pierce R. Butler says

    The deployment of the Lincoln aircraft carrier group to the Persian Gulf seems to have been scheduled for a while, with Bolton just taking advantage of that to make yet another bellicose speech.

    Fortunately, Bolton can’t give direct orders to anyone in uniform, but must go through an addled and easily distracted blowhard with a different set of obsessions.

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