Bolton’s at it Again and You Don’t Care

The Trump administration, with John Bolton on the only battlements he’ll ever man, is at it again. This time, enacting sweeping financial punishments on businesses who would dare transact with Venezuela’s Maduro government.

“The Maduro regime now joins that exclusive club of rogue states [Cuba, North Korea, and Iran],” Bolton said at a one-day conference in Peru of more than 50 governments aligned against Maduro.

Bolton goes on to offer his olive branch, “allowing” third-party sellers to engage in commerce with a Venezuelan private sector wracked by pressures foreign and domestic. I’m sure he imagines that sort of graciousness hasn’t been seen since the cross on Calvary.

The Trump ban gets its teeth by enacting sanctions on any business that violates it with restrictions to the U.S. market. This means that global entrepreneurs who differ ideologically from our president’s foreign policy edicts are barred from selling to little old you. So much for “free traders.”

That shortlist of “rogue states” is of particular interest: from what plantation did these regimes go rogue from, you might ask? The question answers itself. Like with every other economic embargo on foreign powers, this pig is placed in rose-colored glasses and a dress of democracy to be trotted out for our viewing pleasure. Bolton has a soft spot for our sympathies.

“The time to act is now. The United States is acting assertively to cut off Maduro financially, and accelerate a peaceful democratic transition,” Bolton assured those gathered in Lima.

With Trump’s ink now dry on the executive order that solidifies this move, questions arise about how this affects U.S. allies. “A number of European countries, from Spanish oil company Repsol to Air France, continue to operate in Venezuela and could see their U.S. assets seized unless they cut ties with the government. India and China are major buyers of crude from state-run oil giant PDVSA. All of the companies rely on the U.S. to process financial payments.” Trump is hoping that fortune will favor the bold here, though the ends remain entirely unclear. Taking cues from Madeleine Albright, he “thinks the price is worth it,” just the same.

Venezuelan President Maduro has stated this new round of economic sanctions will only hurt his people, that his regime will remain steadfast. And of course, he’s right. Sanctions have a curious way of managing to miss the oft-rotund leadership, while their proles struggle to tighten their belts to keep their trousers from falling.

Cynically enough, that’s precisely the point. Bolton and his crew of suit-clad pirates have said on several occasions that the express purpose of sanctions, in all of these so-called rogue states, is to incite a spirit of revolution. The logic goes that as calories dwindle, and the babies suffer at their malnourished mothers’ breasts, the people will rise and demand change.

That logic fails to marry very well at all with reality, though. Instead, as men watch their children slowly starve and their wives cheeks erode into age lines from grief, they become incensed, as victims of foreign aggression.

Any American worth their principled or patriotic salt should be inflamed by these moves by supposed conservatives. What business is it of a North American nation how a country in South America has politically organized? The human cost is even more pressing. Economic sanctions for the sake of lofty geo-politicking ends stands in stark contrast to the philosophical underpinnings of the United States. Furthermore, neither you nor I have any grievances with Maduro or the Venezuelan people. Why should these supposed representatives take such liberties to say otherwise?

In the typical bravado of a man guaranteed never to have to back it up, Bolton concludes with breast-beating towards Moscow. “We say again to Russia, and especially to those who control its finances: ‘Do not double down on a bad bet!’”

You don’t need to offer forgiveness or a U.S. reckoning for the evils of Nicolas Maduro’s regime John; economics was doing that for you.

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