It Would Be A Mistake To Overlook Chaos In Venezuela

As astute global observers realize, Ukraine is not the only nation in turmoil and the crisis in Venezuela is declining with each passing day.

Characterizing Panama as a pawn of the United States, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced his government’s decision to cut ties with Panama.

“”There are maneuvers by the U.S. government plotting with a lackey government that has a right-wing president who is leaving in the next few months, who is not worthy of his people, who has been working actively against Venezuela,” President Nicolas Maduro said in televised remarks.

Meanwhile, police responded with bullets and tear gas to protestors in six cities, even as others took to the streets to march the first anniversary of the death of Hugo Chavez.

The editorial board of The Financial Times meanwhile takes the view that overlooking the chaos in Venezuela in order to focus n Ukraine would be “a potentially dangerous oversight.”

The editors do not believe the government will collapse, but concede the nation is in institutional disarray.

“Oil output continues to fall, and the latest overhaul of the exchange rate system does little to address a looming balance of payments crisis. The weakness of all political parties, another Chávez legacy, can be seen in the infighting and policy paralysis of the ruling Socialist party. Violence and criminality have soared, sad fruits of years of maladministration; Venezuela’s homicide rate is the world’s third-highest. All this imperils important social gains,” say the editors.

Yes, It Matters If The President Is Viewed As Weak
Russ Douthat takes on the argument employed by some analysts that it does not matter how a president is viewed and, in particular, whether President Obama is perceived as weak.

Douthat first writes that Vladimir Putin’s actions are acts of weakness, not strength, and his intrusion into Ukraine is a “gambit is a salvage operation following a major political setback, not a plausible stepping-stone toward some sweeping long-term objective.”

But, he adds, that supporters who dismiss that Obama’s toughness and credibility do not “shape the behavior of foreign actors” are wrong.

“The history of warfare and diplomacy is replete with cases where regimes have decided to gamble on a particular course — sometimes wisely, sometimes disastrously — because of their reading of a rival’s leader’s psychology, priorities, skills and sense of purpose. Is it really so ridiculous to believe that the Syria crisis confirmed certain impressions that Putin had already cultivated about America’s willingness to back up its threats and see a given strategy through, and that this influenced his decision to push harder in Ukraine than this White House and its intelligence analysts expected?”

Time For Energy Independence
Paul Bledsoe and Lee Feinstein of the German Marshall Fund of the United States posit that the situation in Ukraine underscores the need for the US to become energy independent.

They contend a “geopolitically, environmentally and economically” and would strengthen “transatlantic solidarity,” which is crucial for any response to Russia to be effective.

“As the administration prepares to roll out a series of targeted U.S. sanctions against Russia, President Obama should use the authority of the presidency to direct the Department of Energy to speed approval of LNG exports to NATO allies, pending the hoped-for conclusion of a comprehensive trade deal with Europe,” they write.


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