Hi. I’m Fareed Zacharia. Trump, who we Democrats, and good patriots like the departed John McCain, all hate, is not willing to risk the life of the planet to challenge the evil Putin, who refuses to accept sacred Western values, such as transsexuals in uniform. Unlike myself, he thinks life on earth is more important than keeping America tough and throwing our weight around like we always did. I strongly disagree with sissy Donnie. Our hero John F. Kennedy took Russia to the brink, risking nuclear war – the lives of every resident of planet earth – over the Cuban crisis. We need to do the same with Putin. See, we Democrats know that there is nothing more important than us ruling the planet and having the freedom to bomb hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians any time we please, overthrow governments and create conditions conducive to terror and chaos, all in defiance of international law, on behalf of freedom and democracy. That is our American freedom. I have just three words for Donald J. Trump: CHICKEN! CHICKEN! CHICKEN!
by Vince Dhimos
Yesterday was Venezuela’s best news day in decades. Official delegates from Venezuela and Russia pow-wowed in an intergovernmental conference in Moscow and made decisions regarding investments that should have been made two decades ago.
For all that time, Venezuelans have been obliged to buy most of their food from abroad. When Chavez first rose to power, Venezuelan oil was fetching handsome prices and the country was flush in US dollars. Importing food was no problem and people were eating well. There was no excuse for the people to rise up and for the US to use their disgruntlement as a pretext to grab their oil.
If Chavez, and later Maduro, had been clairvoyant, they would have encouraged the development of agriculture in the Bolivarian republic. But back then there seemed to be no reason to worry.
Nonetheless, hunger has been a problem for quite some time now and while Maduro didn’t see the cause of the crisis in time, Putin did. Russia has gone through the harshest economic sanctions of any other country, starting in 2015, when Russia committed the unpardonable crime of actually fighting terror in Syria, not just pretending the way the US was doing. But Putin didn’t cry over the sanctions. He went to work and encouraged food independence through import substitution. With government incentives, Russian farmers started raising food for the home market and stopped importing US and European foodstuffs. In Russia’s case, the motive was counter-sanctions to slap back at the US Russophobes. The reasoning was: if the US wants to sanction us (mostly via their European puppets), we’ll sanction them right back and stop buying European farm production (this tactic is similar to that used successfully by China to counter US sanctions on their exports, except that China simply substituted exporters). Russia was so successful in this that they started exporting food. As a matter of fact, Russia is now the number one wheat exporter in the world.
If Venezuela wants to eat again, they came to the right place – Moscow.
It wasn’t only agriculture. According to Telesur, citing sectorial vice-president of planning and planning minister Ricardo Menéndez, joint investment agreements were signed in the areas of oil, finances, agriculture, trade, culture, education and science & technology.
Similar texts were posted at Telesur in Spanish and, for example, by TASS in Russian, although the latter’s list of fields was more complete, citing joint investments in:
energy, agriculture, geological exploration, pharmaceuticals, information and communication technologies, nuclear medicine, military technology and other fields.
BTW, let’s not forget that Russian manufacturer Kalashnikov already has started construction of a new plant for the production of its top-of-the-line military rifles, which will start production at the end of this year.
But the news is not all rosy because Venezuela has a habit of not making payments on time. One item was missed by the Venezuelan journalist but was picked up in the Russian-language reports, eg, by Kommersant:
“Earlier, the Finance Ministry said that Venezuela was supposed to pay a tranche of the debt to Russia in March, but has not done so yet. The Russian government loan issued to Venezuela today amounts to about $3 billion. In addition, the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA owes Rosneft $2.3 billion as a prepayment for the supply of oil.”
But the debt had stood at $3.1 billion three months earlier, so not to worry yet.
The main worry at this point is that US sanctions keep pouring down like rain. Having run out of people and companies to sanction on shore, the US has turned its attention to ships.
According to the Russian language publication of RT, Mike Pence has announced:
“At the direction of President Donald Trump, the United States will impose sanctions on 34 vessels owned or used by PDVSA, as well as two companies that ship Venezuelan oil to Cuba,”
According to another report by Russian language RT, an expert has said these sanctions are bound to have an ill effect on the Venezuelans because they are biting the oil sector, which generates the lion’s share of income.
So if the US can keep its hands off Venezuela and allow the Russian – as well as the Chinese – investments to develop their positive effects on the economy. Venezuela could pull out of its malaise. It will be rough going at first. China has had its ups and downs with Venezuela, particularly in terms of getting paid on time. But they have not given up on Venezuela yet. After all, the country is a major supplier of oil to China. And consider the alternative. Look what the US did for Ukraine after instigating and promoting a violent illegal coup there in 2014. According to the IMF, Ukraine is now the poorest country in Europe, as I commented here.
Now these decisions can lead to prosperity if Russia guides the Venezuelans wisely and vigilantly, but there is a problem. If maniacs like Fareed Zacharia (see above video) keep pressuring Trump and claiming he is “too easy” on Russia, he is liable to give in to their suicidal demands and push back against Russia in a way that leads to war. And war with Russia is unthinkable. Because Russia will not be backed into a corner. They will not easily give up their sovereignty. It is nonsense to claim that Trump is weak on Russia. Under pressure from the opposition, he has been unreasonably tough on Russia in imposing an unprecedented number of sanctions on the country and approving extremely provocative NATO drills at the Russian border. His administration’s ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchinson actually discussed before NATO the possibility of a pre-emptive strike on Russia to “take out” missiles the US deems to be in violation of the INF Treaty! In other words, Trump and his cabinet are already dangerous and his adversaries want him to become even more dangerous. It is a game of chicken that can end badly. Trump set a trap for himself, as he often does, by naming Guaidó as the interim president and pressuring his allies to recognize this non-entity of whom little is known in Venezuela, and then threatening war on the country with sly statements like “all options are on the table.” When the Russians sent in military materiel and troops, Trump understood it was game over because he remembered Russia’s threat prior to the Tomahawk strike in Syria, namely, that if the missiles struck any Russian assets, Russia reserved the right to strike the platforms whence they came, and that meant US naval ships. Trump’s military were extra cautious not to touch Russian assets and from that time forward, Trump did not dare repeat that exercise. His statement in the televised meeting with the supposed interim first lady of Venezuela, namely, that “Russia must leave” was pure politics for consumption by his devotees and to keep his enemies off his back. For the moment.
This is where we stand today, with the US claiming superiority but behaving in a way consistent with a nation at an impasse. Because that's what it is. But the war-hawks in msm and politics are hammering away at Trump to force him into an even more precarious situation in which things could easily get out of hand.
Under these circumstances, the Russian deals with Venezuela are not entirely secure.
On top of that, both the Russians and the Chinese have acknowledged that Maduro is not the most reliable trading partner.
This is why the Venezuela situation is unpredictable and bears watching.