At the heart of US Venezuela relations | Arley Gill

usa-venezuela-flags-740Arley Gill

ST GEORGE’S, Grenada, Sunday March 22, 2015 – In response to the suggestion that the United States has a definite foreign policy strategy in the Middle East, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson – who was Chief of Staff to Colin Powel, the then US Secretary of State who also served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – had this to say: “You think that’s the case when you have Senators and Representatives in the House that are doing everything that they possibly can, including becoming traitors, with this open letter to the leaders of Tehran to start another war in southwest Asia? You really think that’s our strategy?’’

As a student of international politics and foreign relations, I was really taken aback by this letter signed by 47 US Congressmen, essentially saying to Iran that, if you sign any deal with the P 5+1nations (the US, Russia, China, Germany and the United Kingdom), the next American president will not honour it. That, to me, is more characteristic of countries often described as Third World.

However, to witness such behaviour from the leaders of the most developed and powerful country in the world, it was almost unbelievable. I thought the world order must have being reversed.

All of this as a result of tension in the US – essentially between the Republicans and the Democrats – over a myriad of issues; most recently, the White House relations with the Israeli government‎; and on the heels of Benjamin “Bibi’’ Netanyahu’s visit to address a joint sitting of the US houses of assembly, without the consent of the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama. These Republicans moved to throw cold water on the ongoing negotiations with Iran. In another country they will be referred to as dissidents.

Wilkerson then went on to say that the US does not have ‎a strategy for dealing with the Middle East. The US approach, he says, is just tactical. He enlightens it to someone clearing their inbox by responding to emails.

Wilkerson’s attitude to Netanyahu and Israel is damning. He says: “Fifty-one percent of the Israeli land belongs to the security complex, either outright or leased. Sixty families in Israel own 75 percent of the wealth, which is unbelievable. They’re the most predatory capitalist state in the Eastern Mediterranean, and that’s saying something because we (the US), China and Russia have exemplified predatory capitalism in the last 20 years but Israel outstrips us all.’’

Wilkerson further suggests that what Israel fears is not Iran’s nuclear weapon but the possibility that, with Iran’s help, there is stability in the troubled parts of the Middle East. In other words, an unstable Middle East may well be in the interest of Israel rather than a stable region, where Iran seems to be the natural hegemonic power that the west relies on strategically – not least, because of the ethnicity of their population. Wilkerson asserts, too, that the issue of ISIS pales in ‎comparison to the Israeli/Palestinian question. I couldn’t agree with him more.

We now know that Netanyahu is more than likely to continue as Prime Minister after this week’s Israeli elections. America’s negotiations with Iran also continue; the end of March is set as the timeline for the end of the negotiations.

Netanyahu has openly stated that he does not support a separate Palestinian state which he previously backed. And, he has waged an overt racist campaign ‎against the Arabs. It is clear that the Palestinian question will never be resolved with Netanyahu in office, as if it is not already difficult without him. As well, US/Israeli relations – already strained – seem likely to get even worse, before it can get better.

The US foreign policy is as uncertain as it has ever been in my lifetime. What respected analysts and commentators are generally saying, and agree on, is that the Republicans are undermining and disrespecting the White House and the presidency; some describing their behaviour as treason and criminal.

What the analysts and commentators are not saying, however, is that it is possible that the disrespect may have stemmed not only from the Republicans’ disliking Obama’s unilateralism on some issues where he is using his executive orders; but that it may also be flavored with racism; that a segment of white, racist America is fed up with the black “dude’’ in the White House.

Obama, for his part, was lauded for his recent approach on Cuba; but, he has undone‎ all that good work with his approach to Venezuela. The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, for all its posturing, is not a threat to the United States – neither militarily nor economically.

It is sad to see, in this enlightened age, that the US would encourage regime change against a duly elected government that simply disagrees with the United States. This, I assert, is what is at the heart of the US attitude to Venezuela.

One regional leader recently said that the issue between the US and Venezuela could be resolved with negotiations. I agree! But the US – with the behaviour of the Republicans and the Jewish lobby on the one hand, and the uncertainty of Obama in his foreign policy on the other – it is anyone’s guess what to expect next.

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arley-gillThe views expressed in this column are solely those of Arley Gill. Arley Gill, a lawyer and magistrate, is a former Grenada minister of culture.