Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on July 25, 2017.
We Americans are really good at getting sucker-punched. From Pearl Harbor to Sputnik to 9/11 and the Syrian civil war, we constantly ask ourselves, “Hey, how’d that happen, and why didn’t we prepare for it?”
Well, a new fist is hurtling out of the not-too-distant future. It’s the Venezuelan civil war.
Recently, a stolen police helicopter attacked the Venezuelan Supreme Court with grenades and automatic weapons. While no one was hurt, the incident should serve as a wake-up call for the entire Western Hemisphere, including the United States. The attack demonstrates a quantum escalation of the hunger-fueled conflict that has consumed the country for close to a year. Hunger is the key word. Hunger is the most basic of human suffering. Remember that rising food prices helped fuel the Arab Spring, which has left the world with a chaotic, fractured, refugee-hemorrhaging Middle East.
Read the full piece at The Hill.
Image credit: andresAzp
Where is the OAS? UN? But, of course, look where Russia, China, Iran, and Hezbollah are. Never mind.
These "Brushfire crises" exemplify the need for Special Forces and Airborne troops. But for years, decades even, the USA lacks the light armor, light attack craft, and adequate mobile armored equipment to address these conflicts. This is considered a HMMWV and troop conflict and still is. "Mission Creep" brings in M1 tanks and M2 Bradleys and is that considered acceptable? There is no "Medium Force" for medium-style conflicts as the USA is still kind of Light (no armor) or Heavy formations.
Now with Strykers, AMPVs, M-ATVs, and JLTVs, perhaps the Airborne troops would be better equipped. Nonetheless, decades later, the USA still lacks light and medium tanks (although the light tank is said to be uparmored to medium protection levels). It's these wars such as Syria, Rwanda, Bosnia, Serra Leone, Ukraine, Georgia, Libya, Somalia, etc. that scare the USA from going from Light to Heavy. I thought that the USA DoD would have adapted by now because a lot of these nations have medium armor (BTRs, BMPs, T-55 to T-72s) with firepower lethal to HMMWVs and foot soldiers.
Venezuela isn't Syria…nor is it Bosnia or Tunisia.
1) There's no major power propping up Maduro like Russia and Iran have been propping up Hussein. Whoever occupies the hot seat in Caracas stays there only as long as they can maintain support from the military and other significant, armed internal factions.
2) There's no ideological, religious, or ethnic schism fueling the conflict. As a result, there's no good foothold for external groups to influence the population. The crowds in the street throwing rocks at the riot police will support whoever promises them a chicken in every pot, an end to corruption, greater voice in government, la, la, la. They're largely irrelevant to the outcome, though.
3) External — espeiclly – ""Yankee" intervention in the region is nearly always a strategic bust. At best, it would just add to the mayhem; at worst, it would unite the population against us. Pumping U.S. troops into the region just makes them a target.
When it comes down to it, there's little difference between Maduro and Guaido other than the former has reached the end of his influence cycle, and the latter is on his way up. The unfortunate conclusion is that this — and other conflicts like it — will burn themselves out faster and cleaner if we let the local population figure it out, and come to us afterwards.
One other thought: Pearl Harbor was an existential threat to U.S. sovereignty in the Pacific, and to the world balance of power at the time. Sputnik foreshadowed a possible existential threat via a shift in technological advantage. 9/11, while neither of those in itself, culminated a series of attacks attempting to change the way we interacted with the Middle East…and brought home that the attacks wouldn't end if we just ignored them.
Syria and Venezuela? Humanitarian tragedies in themselves, but hardly sucker-punches to U.S. policy. If there was a sucker-punch in Syria, it was of our own creation (aided by the Russians) through half-hearted intervention, which allowed the radical Wahhabist movement in Iraq to regenerate in uncontrolled territory. There is no profit found by intervening in a civil war.