Sunday, July 21, 2013

Threatening Venezuela

The Spanish paper ABC has a source claiming John Kerry called Elías Jaua and went off on Venezuela, detailing the ways in which the U.S. would punish the country if it tried to get Edward Snowden there.

If the report is true, then the Obama administration has truly gone off the deep end. What makes me wonder is the threat to stop refining Venezuelan oil. This doesn't seem like a legitimate threat to me given the economic dislocation it would create in the United States, not to mention the diplomatic disaster abroad. Maybe Snowden is that important to Obama, but I am not totally convinced. I hope he's not.

If it is true, then it is a particularly crude type of threat that reminds me of the Bush administration's counterproductive and self-defeating threats against Chile and Mexico to support the Iraq War.

ABC has periodically published controversial stories based on mysterious "sources," especially about the imminent demise of Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro. So they're 1 for 2 at the moment.


Justin Delacour 7:50 PM  

My theory is that U.S. anger about Venezuela's offer of asylum is really more than about Snowden. International relations is a bit like the mafia world. A hegemon is sometimes a little like a mafia don in the sense that it is very reluctant to let a much weaker actor to really truly stand up to it. The logic of the mafia don is that he can't ever let some small fry question his credibility to his face because, if everybody else sees that a small fry can give him the finger, lots of others will start doing the same. I think that's pretty much the thinking of the American state on this issue. If Russia tells you to buzz off, well, it's Russia. But if little Venezuela tells the American state to screw itself after it's issued a public warning, the American state starts thinking that its prestige and credibility is on the line. I'm beginning to agree with you that Venezuela should be careful on this one, for there's a pretty clear mafioso logic at work here. Mafiosos often don't mess around with weaker players. I'm beginning to think that Snowden should have taken Putin's first offer of asylum in exchange for not releasing more state secrets. That's really the safest deal out there for all parties involved.

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