As you know, the Pentagon never stops working. Its work in Latin America and the Caribbean is carried out by SOUTHCOM, which aims to safeguard U.S. military interests in the region.
These are reflected in the document presented by Admiral Craig S. Faller (Posture Statement 2019), commander of the Southern Command, before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee on February 7. It describes a balance of their actions in the region, their roles and challenges this year.
The Southern Command’s policy is inserted in the Western Hemisphere, as a leg of the strategic plans drawn up by the Pentagon for the coming years of the Trump Administration. In the National Security Strategy signed by Donald Trump, published in 2017, an axial document that reflects the present and prospective of the United States as a military and economic power, it says that “China and Russia want to shape a world that is antithetical to the values and interests of the United States.
That statement is key since it accepts the two Eurasian powers as the main “existential threats” of the already decayed U.S. hegemony, and according to the document presented by the Southern Command, both are very present in the Western Hemisphere, especially in Latin America and the Caribbean, where Washington’s influence is in danger.
Expanding the battlefield
According to the Southern Command, the Western Hemisphere is once again a great battleground of the global conjuncture between transnational and state actors, with an emerging triad (Russia, China, Iran) supporting the “tyranny troika”, according to John Bolton: Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. In view of the threats of this “tyranny troika” to U.S. influence, the Southern Command has reinforced military and “cooperation” ties with Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru in Latin America; El Salvador, Panama, Honduras, Guatemala in Central America; Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica in the Caribbean.
By the way, they are all countries that recently voted in favor of intervention in the Organization of American States (OAS), clearly coordinated by Secretary General Luis Almagro.
Returning to the expansion of the battlefield in American territory, the “troika of tyranny” must be neutralized for the supposed prosperity and development of the rest of the countries that are harmed by Eurasian influence. The nomenclature used by Bolton does not appear in the document, however the presence of this concept remains immanent throughout the text, since it takes for granted the criminalization of the governments of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, as evils to be extirpated.
The military implications in all spheres of politics, the economy and the strategic interests of the countries where the White House government is best inserted are more than evident in the discourse promoted by the Southern Command. In his report, he appeals to the moral expression of the U.S. establishment (“we are the good guys, the bad guys are the bad guys”), and insists on calling Russia, China, Iran, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela the “bad guys,” as if it were a proverbial extension of the Monroe Doctrine. In fact, this philosophical view is at the center of all U.S. policy in relation to the “backyard,” as Washington usually calls most of the continent. It is a doctrine of subordination and subjugation of the rest of the continental nation to the interests of the United States.
While their presence in the horn of Africa, the Mashrek and the Maghreb attempted to change the course of the geopolitical map through the Pentagon’s “Greater Middle East” plan, in Latin America and the Caribbean they were immersed in a generalized commotion whose turning point was the emergence of Chavism as a historical and even continental current.
Venezuela’s influence in the region threatened the Washington consensus, and so from the North, especially after the efforts lost in those regions (an early withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria is expected), plans to redraw the map of the Western Hemisphere have taken on an acceleration on a regional scale. The balance of the Southern Command shows a panorama of the influences of China and Russia on the continent, where investments and Eurasian agreements have taken a major lead and have formed, especially in Venezuela, a picture of international relations more extended to the direction implemented by the United States. However, in a few years the state powers in Argentina, Brazil and Ecuador changed the course from Latino-Caribbean integrationism to neo-colonial Pan-American integration. The balance began to tip regionally toward U.S. domination to the detriment of CELAC, ALBA and Petrocaribe.
The presence of the Southern Command, as it was noted in its Posture Statement 2019, is so close to the political relations of the White House that diplomacy is no longer differentiated from the military strategic manual. An element that shapes the entire document presented to the Senate, and that has been favourable to the Pentagon’s plans for the continent.
The Pentagon’s Network of Networks
To all threats, the Southern Command has a response and an action. The idea over the past few years is to expand joint work between the U.S. military and the rest of the satellite countries. The increase of U.S. military bases on Latin American and Caribbean soil is a clear fact of its own, and the operations and exercises that involve primarily “humanitarian assistance” and “natural disasters”. Missing in its balance sheet are the efforts of the USNS Comfort, a naval military hospital that was in several ports throughout the Western Hemisphere, with special media attention in Colombia because it is Venezuela’s border.
The report clearly speaks of “integration” in terms of military exercises, intelligence cooperation and, basically, the tutelage represented by the Pentagon over the military interests of other states. To this regional insertion of the colonial officialdom, joins the civil sector represented by non-governmental organizations (military and non-military) that have already done the work of gathering from their midst the structures pertinent to the interests of the Southern Command. Through educational, legal and operational programmes, the Pentagon has managed to penetrate deeply into the decisions of the Latin American armies.
The CS also reports that it has a network throughout the region that promotes its views, interests and perceptions via NGOs and military personnel on the different issues in which it operates, specifically in the areas of drug trafficking, terrorism, financial plots.
The CS also reports that it has a network throughout the region that promotes its views, interests and perceptions via NGOs and military personnel on the different issues in which it operates, specifically in the areas of drug trafficking, terrorism, financial plots. pic.twitter.com/hx1RcTh6QW
– Ernesto Cazal (@ernesto_cazal) February 7, 2019
El CS también reporta que tiene una red dispuesta en toda la región que impulsa sus puntos de vista, intereses y percepciones vía ONGs y personal militar sobre los diferentes temas en los que opera, específicamente en las áreas de narcotráfico, terrorismo, tramas financieras. pic.twitter.com/hx1RcTh6QW
— Ernesto Cazal (@ernesto_cazal) February 7, 2019
One of the issues of greatest concern to senior U.S. officials is a Russian security training facility in Nicaragua, which “potentially provides Moscow with a regional platform for incorporating intelligence sources and collecting information. This discursive use of “Russian interference” is preserved not only for U.S. domestic policy, clearly driven by the neoconservatives and the Democratic Party establishment, but also for the countries that make up the “troika.
While recognizing Chinese and, in part, Russian influence in the Latin-Caribbean region, there is also talk of Lebanese Hezbollah as an actor that “operates wherever they can collect aid, raise funds and continue their terrorist agendas”; likewise, there is talk of Daesh and al-Qaeda, two proxies intimately connected to NATO structures and contractors used in the war against Syria.
In the fight against terrorism, one of the objectives of the Southern Command is to neutralize Hezbollah’s supposed operations on American territory, where they have found traces in Brazil, Bolivia, Peru and Paraguay. Strangely, there is no mention of Venezuela, even though high officials of the central government were linked to this Lebanese group, key in their local politics and in Israel’s invasions of that territory in 1982 and 2006.
To counter this and other threats to U.S. hegemony, the Southern Command reports that there is coordination with the State Department to implement “a strategic game change”: the installation of programs in security assistance such as International Military Education and Training (IMET) and Foreign Military Financing (FMF).
An important fact revealed by the report: since 2009, State Department programs in the area of security have expanded U.S. influence in key state sectors, for example in Chile, Argentina and Trinidad and Tobago.
An important fact revealed by the report: since 2009, State Department programs in the area of security have expanded U.S. influence in key state sectors, for example in Chile, Argentina and Trinidad and Tobago. pic.twitter.com/u83fsBPp5A
– Ernesto Cazal (@ernesto_cazal) February 7, 2019
Un dato importante que devela el informe: desde 2009, programas del Departamento de Estado en el área de seguridad han expandido la influencia estadounidense en sectores clave estatales, por ejemplo en Chile, Argentina y Trinidad y Tobago. pic.twitter.com/u83fsBPp5A
— Ernesto Cazal (@ernesto_cazal) February 7, 2019
IMET, for example, has awarded at least 55,000 students who now form part of state structures in different political and military areas, and cites the cases of Argentina, Chile, Trinidad and Tobago as the most prominent in its “integration” plan.
Thus, among NGOs, USAID and NED type institutions, education programs and military “cooperation”, the United States has, from a political-military point of view, an extremely important deployment of networks when making decisions and providing answers in Latin American and Caribbean contexts. This is the size of the Pentagon’s command over its “backyard” governments.
Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela
The highlights of the report are drug trafficking, terrorism, migration, natural disasters, and the importance of strengthening ties with U.S.-backed countries. Within the framework of the first three topics, Venezuela takes on important importance because of the challenges conferred by the mediatized “Venezuelan diaspora” as well as by the White House’s adjudication of designating Venezuela as an outlaw state, which allegedly condemns above all its neighbouring countries to destabilizations and “makes the population suffer”.
For this reason, the military exercises carried out jointly with the different countries, whether bilateral or multinational, are reviewed in depth. UNITAS (naval), PANAMAX and CRUZEIRO DU SOL are the most underlined by the Southern Command, since “we increase mutual understanding, inter-operability and collective readiness”.
Basically, the United States, through its network of networks operated by the Pentagon throughout the continent, assures, under the discourse that all these efforts do so in honour of “humanitarianism”, that the interests it represents are not dust in the wind in the face of contrary dispositions, as is the case with Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. Nothing is a coincidence.
Almost at the end of the document, referring to natural disasters, very common in recent times in the Caribbean, there is an important multinational meeting in which the different Ministries of Defense of the region agreed to ensure “responses to emergencies in their own countries” and ” neighbouring countries in crisis”.
“Last October at the Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas in Cancun, Mexico, the U.S. Secretary of Defense and his counterparts throughout the Hemisphere pledged to strengthen regional military cooperation and disaster assistance with support from major civilian agencies. In support, the Southern Command works closely with partner countries, the Department of State, USAID, NGOs and multinational organizations such as CARICOM’s Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and the Regional Security System (RSS) to build national and regional response capabilities.”
Such work has been consolidated over the years, at a time when Venezuela has become increasingly isolated from relations where U.S. interests predominate in the region. This includes diplomatic ties with the countries that are now members of the Lima Group and the OAS.
Thinking precisely of the Latin-Caribbean region as an immense battlefield, in which China and Russia have a stake, as well as the Middle East and Africa, the Southern Command presents its credentials and shows the Senate, and the world in general, that all capabilities are in place to continue attempts to depose (and, if possible, destroy) the governments of the “tyranny troika”, while deepening the command of the regional helm in US hands.
At the bottom of the balance sheet, as textually can be seen throughout the document, Venezuela is a primary objective in the U.S. intentions to dominate the chessboard in Latin America and the Caribbean. Unfortunately for Washington, it is not the only player actively involved in the dispute.
Translation by Internationalist 360°
- Masterstroke: The US Plan to Overthrow the Venezuelan Government
- Colombia’s “Damascus Doctrine”: A Plan for Imperialist War in Our Continent
- Hospital Ships and Military Exercises: War Games in the Venezuelan Maritime Playground
- The Troika of Tyranny: The Imperialist Project in Latin America and Its Epigones
- Venezuela: Resistance or Surrender