The Unz Review - Mobile
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 TeasersRussian Reaction Blog
Shadows of the Past in Venezuela
🔊 Listen RSS
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information



=>

Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New ReplyRead More
ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
AgreeDisagreeLOLTroll
These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Troll, or LOL with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used once per hour.
Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter
Search Text Case Sensitive  Exact Words  Include Comments
List of Bookmarks

Caracas, Venezuela.

One curious thing about Venezuela that few people seem to have remarked upon is that Chavez and Maduro are not really all that hardcore about their class war. The latter assumed the powers of Congress in 2017, but didn’t send armed men to round up the querulous parliamentarians. They continued to yack and squawk in their assembly, and now one of them has declared himself President. Bourgeois speculators, comprador elites, and dark foreign powers are conspiring to keep food off the supermarket shelves, but there haven’t been any demonstrative shootings of saboteurs and wreckers. Economic populism ran amok in an unsustainable flood of gibs that has only been recently been devalued by hyperinflation, but there was no serious attempt to set up central planning organs. Even Salvador Allende began to do that from his first year in power.

Anyhow, this easygoing Bolivarian socialism seemed to work okay so long as oil prices were high and there were still plenty of PDVSA assets to strip down to keep up approval ratings for the champions of the Revolution. But it’s become rather harder to do that now that the economy has plummeted more than Russia’s did after the collapse of the USSR. Now the only reason Maduro is still in power is the support of loyalist Army officers appointed under Chavez – and only so long as he keeps the gibs flowing to them, and the Cubans keep removing malcontents amongst the ranks faster than they can concentrate a critical mass.

And yet for all that, even at this late stage, Venezuela is not a hardcore authoritarian regime. It’s authoritarian, to be sure, but not yet the type of regime that kills lots of people. Venezuelans are not afraid to vent their hatred of Maduro on the Internet and on the streets. But they are afraid of criminals. Say what you will of them, but true authoritarian regimes never have homicide rates paralleling those of the Yanomami tribesmen. There are massive protests, and no mass arrests – yet, anyway – despite an open coup attempt supported by foreign powers. Maduro doesn’t have much more blood on his hands than Macron.

This, incidentally, might partly explain why Venezuela hasn’t adopted central planning. Central planning works – not very efficiently, to be sure – but it does get things manufactured, transported, and somewhat matched to demand. But for central planning to work, it needs coercion. No coercion – central planning falls apart, and the whole structure disintegrates. This is what happened in the late Soviet Union.

So why didn’t the chavistas go FULLCOMMUNISM? The Bolsheviks didn’t have any qualms imposing Soviet power on a much more recalcitrant Russia, with savageries unseen in Europe since the Thirty Years War. The Chicoms were also very brutal. Nor is this a Latin American oddity. The Cubans might have been gentler, but they weren’t particularly nice either. They were about as brutal as the Argentinian junta or the Pinochet regime in Chile, though stretched out over a longer period. Venezuela? They haven’t even brought back the death penalty, after having been the first nation to abolish it in 1863.

It doesn’t have much to do with idealism, either. Venezuela’s leaders are not nice people. I am not saying that the opposition, or the American ideologues dead set on overthrowing them, are “better.” But let’s not entertain any delusions. Family members and friends of Chavez have become very rich, and many of them prefer to live far away from the Bolivarian paradise their parents and colleagues have created. Chavez’s own daughter lives abroad, and is reputed to be Venezuela’s richest female billionaire.

***

While thinking about this conundrum, I recalled an essay I once wrote about the history of the Venezuelan economy: https://akarlin.com/2012/02/history-of-venezuela/

Perhaps the answer lies, as it so often and strikingly does, in what we might call deep history. See, the Venezuelan state has traditionally been weak; it didn’t produce any gold or silver, so Spanish colonial administrators allowed it a relatively large degree of autonomy. Primary commodity exports – that’s cacao, back then; oil after the 1920s – had to pass through and feed the Caracas bureaucracy, but otherwise the white landowning magnates were left to their own devices. After independence, Venezuela had no fewer than 41 Presidents and 30 insurrections from 1829 to 1899. That’s competitive with the Roman Empire during the grisly Crisis of the Third Century. But that’s where the similarities ended. The striking thing about these yearly color revolutions is how bloodless they were.

So imagine this handsome, mustachioed caudillo called Juan, he is relaxing at his hacienda and he has perhaps drunk a bit too much rum this afternoon. Or maybe just the right amount, considering what is about to happen. He doffs his big gaucho hat, calls over his loyal posse, and sets out for the nearest plaza in the eastern llamas, where he regales the mob with a drunken, rambling speech about how President Jose is a pendejo. Ragtag militia in tow, Juan marches to Caracas, makes his grand entrance on a white horse, and drunkenly proclaims himself the new El Presidente. Jose, being a good sport and all, accepts this development in good humor, confident in the knowledge that he or his good amigo Joaquín would repeat this piece of performance art in a year or two. *This story has been dramatized for effect. May or may not accurately describe actual historical events.*

As you might guess, enriching oneself while in power is also a veritable tradition in Venezuela historically shared by left and right alike. In the late 19th century, President Guzman Blanco amassed massive debts, some of which mysteriously made their way into his bank accounts. Spending his time as President between Caracas and Paris, the revolution happened to coincide with one of his trips to the French capital, where he wisely elected to stay. (Incidentally, the Europeans sent gunboats to Venezuela in 1902-03 when they refused to honor Blanco’s debts. Thankfully for Venezuelans, we now live in gentler times). The early 20th century dictator Juan Vicente Gómez became the country’s richest oligarch upon his death in 1936, having amassed a $400 million fortune (that would be $7.2 billion today).

So yes, to be sure, the chavistas have overturned many of the patterns of Venezuelan history. Chavez’s personal example has emboldened and empowered the pardos, and they have bestowed munificent largesse on the Venezuelan people (in fairness, this latter development already has ample precedence; there were similar experiments in the oil-rich 1970s, when Venezuelan salaries briefly became the highest on the South American continent, before oil prices and the economy collapsed in the 1980s and the neolibs had to clean up the mess). Still, perhaps can’t just alter fixed national templates too much. Perhaps this is why Maduro hasn’t made himself into a proper, self-respecting dictator. It would be just too un-Venezuelan, where authority and violence have always been concentrated at the local level. Presumably, this is why, having – for a time – enriched ordinary Venezuelans, the chavista elites hardly want to live in penury themselves. If kleptocracy was good enough for the great caudillos and dictators of the past, what makes them inferior? And ultimately, as Steve Sailer points out, even Hugo Chavez eventually married into white. His grandchildren are probably going to be quite a bit fairer than him, the epitome of the Raza Cósmica ideal. As it turns out, the limits to racial idealism are no less absolute than the limits of socialist idealism.

***

But back to the present. While I don’t observe Venezuela particularly closely, my impression is that the conventional wisdom is broadly correct. Maduro’s power is dependent on maintaining the flow of gibs to the Army officers. Flow of gibs depends on oil export earnings. Oil export earnings are dependent on the ability of state-owned oil giant PDVSA capability to maintain production at its wells.

Venezuela is often cited as having the world’s greatest oil reserves, but 90% of it is economically uncompetitive heavy oil. Extracting it will cost more than it will get on the oil markets and turn the Orinoco into a tarry slurry. Still, it does have a modest amount of “normal” oil. It’s still quite sulfuric, so it sells at a discount, but a country like Venezuela should still be able to live quite comfortably off it. Not like the Emiratis, or even the Saudis… but like the Azeris or Gaddafi-era Libyans, sure, why not. Unfortunately, competent human capital has been hounded from PDVSA and substituted with ruling party cronies, while investment in oil production capacity has been woefully neglected. As a result, oil production is going down inexorably. Not only is this putting a crimp on foreign currency earnings – Venezuela’s current reserves are sufficient for a mere month of imports – but this year production is expected to fall to a level where it becomes impossible to service China’s and Russia’s loans, at which point Venezuela loses a bunch of assets to them, such as the Citgo oil refinery. In the worst case, production will fall so low that even the Army officers can no longer be bought off.

There are three possible ways out of this imbroglio:

1. The utopian state-backed cryptocurrency schemes that Venezuela is currently dallying with might come in handy for subventing Western sanctions, but they don’t solve underlying problems. Apart from that, Venezuela needs to at least adopt a modest economic reform program, such as the one proposed by Russia. It retains some socialist elements (e.g. a minimum income for households), but otherwise returns policy-making to some semblance of economic sanity. In particular, Venezuela will need to stop financing its budget deficit by printing money, and reform the tax code to focus on more easily collectable indirect taxes. This is its best bet for maintaining some semblance of sovereignty, and salvaging what can still be salvaged of the Bolivarian Revolution.

2. Fold to the color revolution – and sign back up to the US-dominated world order.

3. Go hardcore techno-totalitarian by combining Venezuela’s state-issued national ID cards, which are used to access subsidized food and fuel purchases, with Chinese-style social credit. This is the most radical step, and will fundamentally transform – lock down – any society that implements it. And Chinese state corporations are only too happy to make it happen. After all, the only thing better than lording over peons forced to smile for the Panopticon is to be the guys responsible for its maintenance. Since Venezuela’s own capacity to run such a complicated system is questionable, this onus will fall on China, with all the accompanying power and influence deriving from that. In this scenario, Venezuela permanently drifts into the emerging Sinosphere – the likely primary antagonist to US primacy in the coming decades.

Which of these choices Venezuela makes will tell us a great deal about the balance of power in the coming world order.

 
Hide 108 CommentsLeave a Comment
Commenters to Ignore...to FollowEndorsed Only
Trim Comments?
    []
  1. peterAUS says:

    Good article.
    Especially:

    Which of these choices Venezuela makes will tell us a great deal about the balance of power in the coming world order.

    • Agree: Anatoly Karlin
    • Replies: @Paw
    , @reiner Tor
  2. Go hardcore techno-totalitarian…and Chinese state corporations are only too happy to make it happen.

    You are referencing American propaganda outlet to support your point. These are the same people, who believe in Dugin-Gerasimov doctrine to disrupt American bodily fluids…It’s all a bunch of hogwash. There is zero evidence that China is willing to take up responsibility for constructing cyberpunk dystopia in Venezuela, or indeed has the capabilities to do so.

    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
  3. @Felix Keverich

    Well it has incontrovertibly began to construct one in China itself, and there is no reason this system can’t be extended to foreign countries. Indeed, given the influence it could give China over those polities, it would be stupid not to do that.

    PS. And recall that I’m supposed to be the Sinophile, while you’re the Sinophobe. 🙂

    • Replies: @Felix Keverich
  4. Assuming the content of this article is correct, I actually think #1), the Russian proposal, is the best one for Venezuela. Number #2, the U.S. probably is not as good and #3) truly sucks.

    • Agree: reiner Tor
    • Replies: @Mr. XYZ
  5. songbird says:

    How intelligent do you have to be to buy crypto? And how dumb do you have to be to buy Venezuelan crypto? Is there any overlap in the curves?

    I mean isn’t that kind of like buying Zimbabwe currency, if they didn’t even have to have the paper and ink to run the presses, but just needed to move the decimal point electronically?

    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
  6. @Anatoly Karlin

    You’re no Sinophile, you’re China fanboi. You ascribe it magical powers. I can almost guarantee that whatever thing they got working in China will flop spectacularly in Venezuela, for one simple reason:
    Venezuelans are not the Chinese.

  7. Mitleser says:
    @Felix Keverich

    You’re no Sinophile, you’re China fanboi

    What is the difference?
    My experience on r/Sino suggests that they are the same.

    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
  8. @songbird

    Sure, one is not buying the petro as an investment anytime soon.

  9. @Felix Keverich

    1. If magical powers = national IQ * population, then ok, sure, magic it is.

    2. Well, that’s sort of the point I was getting at, I would think. Venezuelans are culturally not cut out to run such a system.

    However, I don’t see any reason the chavistas can outsource it to China.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  10. @Mitleser

    /r/Sino has a heavy SJW/anti-white element. AquariusAnon can (and has) expounded more on this.

  11. DFH says:

    Things were much more high-stakes during the war against the Spanish, mostly because Bolivar was fighting a race war against Spaniards on the one hand and the black and mulatto bandits the Royalists co-opted.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decree_of_War_to_the_Death
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jos%C3%A9_Tom%C3%A1s_Boves#Military_campaigns

  12. utu says:

    Very good article!

    • Agree: Dmitry, Yevardian
    • Replies: @Sowhat
  13. Sean says:

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-17/pdvsa-looks-like-a-zero-to-man-who-ran-elliott-s-argentina-bet

    The Mastermind Behind Singer’s Argentine Bet Warns Venezuela’s Oil Company’s Debt May be Worthless

    November 17, 2017, 10:00 AM GMT Updated on November 17, 2017, 6:36 PM GMT
    Venezuela could transfer oil rights to new entity, Newman says
    Value of company’s foreign assets pale in comparison to debt

    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-navarro-and-greg-autry/mearsheimer-on-strangling_b_9417476.html
    My view is that there’s one powerful counter to that argument; and it’s the main argument again isolationism; and it says that if China dominates all of Asia, if it’s a regional hegemon, it is then free to roam around the world much the way the United States, as a regional hegemon, is free to roam around the world.

    Most Americans don’t think about this, but the reason that the United States is wandering all over God’s little green acre, sticking its nose in everybody’s business, is because we are free to roam. We have no threats in the Western Hemisphere that pin us down.

    Now if China is free to roam because it’s a potential hegemon, it can roam into the Western Hemisphere. It can develop friendly relations with a country like Brazil or country like Mexico. It could put a naval base in Brazil much the way the Soviets were putting troops in Cuba, right?

    So what the United States fears about China dominating Asia is the possibility that it will not invade the United States, but that it will move into the Western Hemisphere, form a close alliance with a country like Brazil or Cuba or Mexico, and become a threat to the United States from inside the Hemisphere.

  14. Dmitry says:

    I used to watch about Venezuela as a hobby when I was learning Spanish – mainly I thought their accent is one of the best and most attractive Spanish accents. So I looked for those videos again.

    It’s ironic because of all the Spanish accents, by far the ugliest to my hearing is the native accent of Spain itself, as well as the most difficult to understand.

    Anyway, some time of total watching videos about Venezuela, you have a total impression the Venezuelan government is the stupidest government in the world.

    Felix talking yesterday in Ukraine.

    In Ukraine, there is serious inflation, but normal things are still cheap.

    In Venezuela, some supermarkets full, but 2 boxes of cereal is equivalent to the monthly salary. (I don’t know if someone can check her figure for salary?)

    Another YouTuber, says the day you can go to supermarket depends on final number of your ID.

    So her final number of her ID was 3. So she could go to the supermarket on Wednesday.

    From 3:35 below
    She says Chavez was saying to the population that all problems of the country were because of the rich and middle class people.

    This created great social resentment. And as a result, Caracas is now the most dangerous city of the world.

    Is there a stupider government in the world?

    • Replies: @Dmitry
    , @Hyperborean
  15. Dmitry says:
    @Dmitry

    She also says you can go to the supermarket on the day according to the mobile phone (“cel”? – I think it is mobile phone?) number.

    And it’s illegal to film in supermarkets.

    Normal products disappear because (she thinks) of the military, and then resold by “black market” much more expensive.

    At 5:10 – more elite supermarket with expensive products.

    • Replies: @redmudhooch
  16. @Dmitry

    It’s ironic because of all the Spanish accents, by far the ugliest to my hearing is the native accent of Spain itself, as well as the most difficult to understand.

    I have heard that the lisping quality of Peninsular Spanish is the result of people who imitated the speech patterns of a lisping king.

    But I don’t think it is any more difficult to understand than people lisping in English.

    • Replies: @Nawi
  17. Mr. XYZ says:
    @Abelard Lindsey

    You don’t think that the U.S. could significantly help out Venezuela (scenario #2)?

    IMHO, both scenario #1 and scenario #2 are good ones while scenario #3 certainly sucks.

  18. Yee says:

    “Since Venezuela’s own capacity to run such a complicated system is questionable, this onus will fall on China, with all the accompanying power and influence deriving from that. In this scenario, Venezuela permanently drifts into the emerging Sinosphere ”

    Oh, that’s not happening, because it would take too many efforts and it’d fail.

    See the example of Myanmar. All those efforts the US has made on Aung San Suu Kyi, yet she refuses to be the docile puppet when she finally runs the country.

    No. China will talk business with the opposition in Venezuela if they gain power. Unless the US offer them more economic benefits, it’d be business as usual. It may take some time, but it always come down to economy.

    • Replies: @Mitleser
  19. Paw says:
    @peterAUS

    All shadows of the past I see is the OIL. the OIL. Like in the Iraq. The OIL. The hell oil.
    Not any Chavez marriages ! And other deep hysteries… One /the Russians/ try to help you to live, other, the US helps you into your grave!!

    • Replies: @peterAUS
  20. Paw says:

    Sorry , I still remember the failed drone attack on the Venezuela president recently. History.

  21. @Dmitry

    https://www.mintpressnews.com/us-led-economic-war-not-socialism-tearing-venezuela-apart/218335/

    Americans have been trained by decades of Cold War propaganda to look for any confirmation that “socialism means poverty.” A quick, simplistic portrait of the problems currently facing Venezuela, coupled with the fact that President Nicolas Maduro describes himself as a Marxist, can certainly give them such a confirmation. However, the actual, undisputed history of socialist construction around the world, including recent decades in Venezuela, tells a completely different story.

    Hugo Chavez was elected president of Venezuela in 1999. His election was viewed as a referendum on the extreme free market policies enacted in Venezuela during the 1990s. In December, when I walked through the neighborhoods of central Caracas, Venezuelans spoke of these times with horror.

    Venezuelans told of how the privatizations mandated by the International Monetary Fund made life in Venezuela almost unlivable during the 1990s. Garbage wouldn’t be collected. Electricity would go off for weeks. Haido Ortega, a member of a local governing body in Venezuela, said: “Under previous governments we had to burn tires and go on strike just to get electricity, have the streets fixed, or get any investment.”

    Chavez took office on a platform advocating a path between capitalism and socialism. He restructured the government-owned oil company so that the profits would go into the Venezuelan state, not the pockets of Wall Street corporations. With the proceeds of Venezuela’s oil exports, Chavez funded a huge apparatus of social programs.

    After defeating an attempted coup against him in 2002, Chavez announced the goal of bringing Venezuela toward “21st Century Socialism.” Chavez quoted Marx and Lenin in his many TV addresses to the country, and mobilized the country around the goal of creating a prosperous, non-capitalist society.

    In 1998, Venezuela had only 12 public universities, today it has 32. Cuban doctors were brought to Venezuela to provide free health care in community clinics. The government provides cooking and heating gas to low-income neighborhoods, and it’s launched a literacy campaign for uneducated adults.

    During the George W. Bush administration, oil prices were the highest they had ever been. The destruction of Iraq, sanctions on Iran and Russia, strikes and turmoil in Nigeria — these events created a shortage on the international markets, driving prices up.

    Big oil revenues enabled Chavez and the United Socialist Party to bring millions of Venezuelans out of poverty. Between 1995 and 2009, poverty and unemployment in Venezuela were both cut in half.

    • Replies: @Escher
    , @Hibernian
  22. peterAUS says:
    @Paw

    All shadows of the past I see is the OIL. the OIL. Like in the Iraq. The OIL. The hell oil.

    I see. OIL.Makes sense.

    But…I really can’t recollect any info about Yugoslavia having much of that liquid. Or Chechnya. Or Georgia. Ukraine?

    So, could be just me, but even after the fall of The Wall not all conflicts appear to be about that OIL thing.

    As for before the fall, just post-WW2 and only in South America…plenty of bloodbath there, but, for example Chile…..not quite sure it was about oil. Or Argentina.
    Or Grenada, as direct intervention. Or Panama, when we are onto that intervention thing.

    As for really high risk confrontation, well, Cuba ’62? OIL? Not so sure it was about it.

    And, The War….the main reason Nazi Germany attacked Soviet Union wasn’t OIL…..I think.

    So…..there could probably be a little bit more than just about OIL re all this about Venezuela.

  23. neutral says:

    Americans have been trained by decades of Cold War propaganda to look for any confirmation that “socialism means poverty.

    They have also been trained to believe that all races are equal. That being the case they also have to be made to ignore very rich socialist states, that are obviously going to be white nations. They also ignore the fact that Israel is also socialist, so while things like state health care systems are evil in America, in Israel this is ok.

  24. Mitleser says:
    @Yee

    Just because China would argue for business as usual, it does not mean that at a time of American anti-China campaign, they would get it.

    • Replies: @songbird
  25. Mitleser says:

    One curious thing about Venezuela that few people seem to have remarked upon is that Chavez and Maduro are not really all that hardcore about their class war. The latter assumed the powers of Congress in 2017, but didn’t send armed men to round up the querulous parliamentarians. They continued to yack and squawk in their assembly, and now one of them has declared himself President. Bourgeois speculators, comprador elites, and dark foreign powers are conspiring to keep food off the supermarket shelves, but there haven’t been any demonstrative shootings of saboteurs and wreckers. Economic populism ran amok in an unsustainable flood of gibs that has only been recently been devalued by hyperinflation, but there was no serious attempt to set up central planning organs. Even Salvador Allende began to do that from his first year in power.

    Anyhow, this easygoing Bolivarian socialism seemed to work okay so long as oil prices were high and there were still plenty of PDVSA assets to strip down to keep up approval ratings for the champions of the Revolution.

    Leftist TH noticed that as well.

    Maduro, for his part, possesses neither Chávez’s petrodollar surplus nor his political skills. As I wrote here in 2003: “Chávez’s charisma, his light touch despite his often rhetorical bombast, his ability to bring some key opponents back into the fold, to make unexpected alliances, helped defuse social tension at key moments. It’s one of the reasons why Venezuela, despite an often excess of extreme rhetoric, didn’t spiral into the kind of violence often associated with other revolutions.” That state of grace has ended.

  26. @Felix Keverich

    You are an extreme, comical Russia fanboi. If there is a current or potential enemy or competitor or potential vassal of Russia anywhere, you will invariably declare that it will crumble under its own weight. Regardless of its current power or trajectory, you will predict that its power relative to Russia will drop spectacularly in the near future.

    Now I don’t think it’s a good thing to constantly overestimate yourself and underestimate others. It’s something Hitler did, and it didn’t work out well for him.

  27. @Anatoly Karlin

    Basically, China might disintegrate or fall into some deep protracted crisis (but without a civil war how deep or long lasting such a crisis could be?) , or it might become a superpower rival of the US. Another possibility might be it joining the US sphere by becoming a democracy or something.

    I don’t think disintegration is a very likely option. The vast majority of the population is Han Chinese, it might lose a few sparsely populated poor provinces, but even that looks unlikely.

    I don’t think a crisis without political disintegration could last more than a decade, so it’s irrelevant longer term.

    I also don’t think there’s a chance of a true Chinese democracy. The trajectory of Russia shows that it will likely drift away from the US over time due to opposing geopolitical interests. Besides, the Yeltsin China is going to be way bigger than Yeltsin Russia ever was.

    This leaves us with the prediction of a Chinese superpower by the middle of the century at the latest.

    The trajectory of the US is more difficult to predict. It’s going to stay very very strong unless or until the coming nonwhite majority pushes it into total political dysfunction. We might already have arrived there with the shutdown. Anyway, it’s better to prepare for a strong and bad ideological crusader US than for a quick end of US power. (The US disintegration might be catastrophic, too. It has thousands of nuclear tipped missiles and countless military technologies, a huge military, and an armed population. Not to mention the economic impact on the rest of the world.)

    • Replies: @Mitleser
  28. Escher says:
    @redmudhooch

    Plus I have always wondered about Chavez’s sudden onset and rapid spread of cancer.

  29. @peterAUS

    Which of these choices Venezuela makes will tell us a great deal about the balance of power in the coming world order.

    Or it will not. The Second World War had a number of dress rehearsals, like the Spanish Civil War, the Manchurian Campaign, the campaign in China, the conquest of Ethiopia, the Anschluss, the Sudeten Crisis, the occupation of rump Czechia, and finally (technically already during the war) the Winter War. Each of them was an Axis victory (okay, the Winter War wasn’t, but it didn’t bode well for the USSR), and each showed a lack of strength and/or resolve on the part of their enemies. But ultimately it all proved to be false.

    A perhaps bigger issue is that further US sphere victories might embolden the US sphere leadership (which is not really an organized group of people, it’s rather some kind of unthinking Borg), and ultimately lead to a conflagration which dwarfs all previous wars put together.

  30. No coercion – central planning falls apart, and the whole structure disintegrates. This is what happened in the late Soviet Union.

    Nah. The actually profitable enterprises in the USSR were run like an honest megacorp capitalist business.

    The borders and customs that suddenly sprung up was what caused their collapse, not a lack of central planning.

    Soviet megacorps went all-in on offshoring, with long and complex logistic chains. (E.g., an assembly line might rely on twenty different widgets, each manufactured in its own specific facility that manufactured nothing but this specific widget, scattered all over the USSR.)

    When there was competition, it was usually for ‘intellectual property’ (i.e., design plans and the like), not for physical products or logistics.

    This ultimately was their undoing.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  31. Mitleser says:
    @reiner Tor

    Hungary’s infamous son vs. the PRC

    Last year I still believed that China ought to be more deeply embedded in the institutions of global governance, but since then Xi Jinping’s behavior has changed my opinion. My present view is that instead of waging a trade war with practically the whole world, the US should focus on China. Instead of letting ZTE and Huawei off lightly, it needs to crack down on them. If these companies came to dominate the 5G market, they would present an unacceptable security risk for the rest of the world.

    Regrettably, President Trump seems to be following a different course: make concessions to China and declare victory while renewing his attacks on US allies. This is liable to undermine the US policy objective of curbing China’s abuses and excesses.

  32. @anonymous coward

    I’m not sure if the political disintegration was the sole cause of the collapse of the USSR economy, but it was definitely a big factor.

    • Replies: @anonymous coward
  33. @reiner Tor

    Thing is, the USSR economy never collapsed. It was going strong even as far as 1993, when the USSR hadn’t even existed already for a couple years.

    It was political issues that destroyed it.

    Of course, when people talk about a ‘weak’ Soviet economy, they mean consumer goods, which is wrong. The USSR didn’t work that way, that economy was almost completely B2B.

    • LOL: Anatoly Karlin
    • Replies: @Tyrion 2
  34. Tyrion 2 says:

    Maduro’s time is up. At some point there’ll be a big enough march to his palace and he’ll be turfed out. The army aren’t going to fire on the protestors given current economic conditions. China and Russia aren’t coming to the rescue. They’re too far away and know that a realpolitik America would never allow it. Venezuela is also in dispute with Guyana, while its other two neighbours, Colombia and Brazil, are not exactly fans of Maduro. Indeed, the very recent ascension of Bolsonaro was when Maduro’s fate was sealed.

  35. Tyrion 2 says:
    @anonymous coward

    A completely B2B economy. Lol. My law firm pretends to do your firm’s compliance and your accounting firm pretends to do my firm’s accounts?

  36. @Tyrion 2

    a realpolitik America would never allow it

    But a realpolitik Russia is supposed to put up with Latvia (or even Ukraine?) in NATO?

    It’s pretty dangerous to believe that you can just disallow such things from happening.

    • Replies: @Tyrion 2
  37. Tyrion 2 says:
    @reiner Tor

    It’s pretty dangerous to believe that you can just disallow such things from happening

    It isn’t dangerous if you actually can.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  38. @Tyrion 2

    That is wrong. They only “actually can” because the Russians/Chinese fold (or will likely fold), but it’s still dangerous.

    All it takes is a Russian (or Chinese) leadership which takes itself seriously, or feels that it cannot allow itself to be seen as not taking itself seriously.

    • Replies: @Tyrion 2
  39. Tyrion 2 says:
    @reiner Tor

    Russia and China would have to be totally insane to think they could sustain an intervention in Venezuela in the face of US opposition.

    Furthermore, that they take themselves seriously means they won’t do it and be made clowns of.

    What on earth do you think they could do?

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  40. @Tyrion 2

    Russia and China would have to be totally insane to think they could sustain an intervention in Venezuela in the face of US opposition.

    They could shoot back. If they are defeated in Venezuela militarily while there at the invitation of what they claim to be the lawful government of Venezuela, they could occupy something closer to home (Russia – Ukraine, Baltics; China – Taiwan) where the US will have difficulty doing something.

    • Replies: @Tyrion 2
    , @Dmitry
  41. Tyrion 2 says:
    @reiner Tor

    Shoot back at “Brazillian” or “Colombian” forces?

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  42. songbird says:
    @Mitleser

    I was thinking about the Monroe Doctrine the other day. Perhaps, Latin America would have become whiter if it hadn’t been protected by the US. More stable, European-backed governments might have facilitated more immigration from Europe, when Europe was a real population center.

  43. @Tyrion 2

    So the US would disguise its troops as Brazilians? Or you think the combined might of China and Russia would not succeed in militarily propping up the Venezuelan government against… the combined forces of Brazil and Colombia?

    • Replies: @Tyrion 2
    , @Nawi
  44. Tyrion 2 says:
    @reiner Tor

    Not disguise but work with, and neither Russia nor China can project serious force to Venezuela. Perhaps you don’t have a lot of familiarity with how hard it is to send forces around the world and keep them adequately supplied and maintained?

    Honestly, the idea of them intervening militarily in Venezuela is hopeless. They wouldn’t even seriously consider it.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  45. @Tyrion 2

    Does Brazil and Columbia have any logistical capabilities? Are they willing to work for US interests to actually sacrifice servicemen?

    Russia and China only need to send money to prop up the government, plus some tripwire forces to prevent a direct American intervention.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  46. @reiner Tor

    I’m not saying that will happen. In fact, more likely than not it won’t. But unless the US intervenes quickly or the Maduro government collapses of its own weight (the latter is not unlikely), Russia and China together will have the ability to prop up Maduro. I’m not sure if it’d be good for them to do so, but clearly the recent trip of the Russian bombers and transport and tanker planes was meant to show the ability to send there tripwire forces if needed.

    • Replies: @Tyrion 2
  47. Reports are coming that Russia has deployed up to 400 mercenaries to guard Maduro. Again, I have to ask: what is China doing right now to prop up Maduro regime?

    Russia is behaving like a real superpower in this situation. China is behaving like a little pussy-bitch.

  48. Mitleser says:
    @Felix Keverich

    Chinese seems to expect a long-term victory, hence not much need to get involved.

    The problem is that Washington can delay that.

    Hopefully, trade/tech war and the Taiwan conflict will be a wake up call for them.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  49. @Tyrion 2

    The only problem with your hypothesis is those “massive” marches do not seem to happen. We can see some limited protests, comprising perhaps 200 youths throwing stones. In a city of 5 million, that is nothing. Also, there are some YT videos, uploaded on 1/23, and showing larger groups, but they cannot be dated. It’s been a while since the Amsterdam studios uploaded their greatest hit, “Neda’s death”. With the current State Dept cuts and the shutdown, I doubt we’ll see much more.

    In all honesty, I hope Venezuelans get some democracy, just like the Brazilians and Argentinians got. You can’t cure stupid, but again, Venezuela is long overdue on their turn to clean toilets in US. They can be taught to mop, can’t they?

    • Replies: @Tyrion 2
    , @Nawi
  50. Mitleser says:

    2 little money for China 2 care?

  51. peterAUS says:
    @Felix Keverich

    Ahm….the same type as the guys who got smashed in Syria?

    There is that critical difference between “private military contracts” and regulars when Russia is concerned.

    My impression: this it’s actually “negative” re regime in Kremlin helping Maduro.

    Had some Spetsnaz troops been deployed it would’ve been something “positive”.

    • Replies: @Felix Keverich
  52. @Mitleser

    Chinese seems to expect a long-term victory, hence not much need to get involved.

    Actually many in China seem to think that their latest assertive stance (the Made In China 2025, the OBOR/New Silk Road initiative, etc.) have made the threat they pose to American supremacy more salient, and hence, is one major cause of their woes with US sanctions and trade wars. So this makes them less inclined to do anything in Venezuela.

    However, the more assertive foreign policy stance and more ambitious programs (MIC25, OBOR/NSR) are more or less linked to Xi Jinping’s person. So it’s possible that for some internal political reasons he might feel compelled to stay assertive despite having realized that this was an error.

    • Replies: @Mitleser
  53. @Felix Keverich

    What Mitleser said, plus I would speculate that any successor regime will still have to do business with China, given its weight in the world economy.

    It will however be able to tell Russia to take a hike with its “odious” loans.

    PS. Further to what Mitleser said. Venezuela owes perhaps 10 billion to Russia (including all the under the table stuff) and $20-25 billion to China. Proportionally much smaller relative to whatever aspect of the economy you compare it to.

    • Replies: @Mitleser
    , @Felix Keverich
  54. Mitleser says:
    @reiner Tor

    The error is to think that a less assertive stance will help them much against US sanctions and trade wars. Nowadays, the PRC is too big to hide anymore.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  55. Predictions market: https://www.predictit.org/markets/detail/4965/Will-Nicol%C3%A1s-Maduro-be-president-of-Venezuela-on-Dec-31,-2019

    Will Nicolás Maduro be president of Venezuela on Dec. 31, 2019?

    80% before January 2019
    65% after the inauguration
    35% in the past two days, which saw a huge flood of bets (though now up to 40%)

    • Replies: @Dacian Julien Ciolos
  56. @Mitleser

    Perhaps. They think they can buy some time. But unless something very very momentous is going to happen, they will get stronger and stronger each decade, whatever they do. And if their calculations will turn out to be erroneous, they will be able to regroup after a retreat later. They have relatively little to lose either way. Russia is much smaller and more fragile, so it cannot afford to retreat much.

    • Replies: @Mitleser
  57. Mitleser says:
    @Anatoly Karlin

    The issue is not doing business with China, but doing business with China on China’s terms.

    PLA Strategist: The U.S. Uses Its Dollar to Dominate the World

    A. The Iraq War and Whose Currency Was Used for Oil Trades

    People all say that the strength of the U.S. is based on three pillars: currency, technology, and military force. Actually today we can see that the real backbone of the U.S. is its currency and military force. The backing of its currency is its military force.

    Every country in the world spends a large amount of money when it has a war. The U.S., however, is unique. It can also make money while spending money on a war. No other country can do that.

    Why did the Americans fight a war in Iraq? Many people would answer, “For oil.” However, did the Americans truly fight for oil? No. If they indeed fought for oil, why didn’t they take a single barrel of oil out of Iraq? Also, the crude oil price jumped to US$149 a barrel after the war from a pre-war price of $38 a barrel. The American people didn’t get a low oil price after its army occupied Iraq.

    Therefore, the U.S. fought the war not for oil, but for the dollar. Why? The reason was simple. To control the world, the U.S. needed the whole world to use the dollar. It was a great move in 1973 to force Saudi Arabia and other OPEC countries to install the dollar as the settlement currency for oil trades.

    Once you understand that, you can understand why the U.S. fought a war in an oil producing country. The direct result of fighting a war in an oil producing country was to increase the price oil. Once the oil price shot up, the demand for the dollar also went up.

    For example, if you had US$38, you could buy a barrel of crude oil before the war. After the war, the price went up over four times to $149. Your $38 could only get you a quarter of a barrel. How could you get the other three quarters? You had to use your products and resources to trade the Americans for dollar. Then the U.S. government could openly, legitimately print more dollars. This was the secret.

    I also want to tell everyone, the U.S.’s war in Iraq was not only for that goal. It was also to keep the dollar’s hegemony. Saddam didn’t support terrorists or Al-Qaeda, nor did it have weapons of mass destruction. But why was he still hung? It was because he played a game between the U.S. and EU. After the euro was created in 1999, he announced that Iraq’s oil trade would be settled in euros. This angered the Americans, especially when many other countries followed suit. Russian President Putin, Iranian President Ahmadinejad, and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez all made the same announcement. How could the Americans accept this?

    Some people may think what I said was a fairy tale. Let’s take a look at what the America did after it won the Iraq War. Before they arrested Saddam, the Americans rushed to form the temporary Iraqi government. The first order that the temporary government published was to announce that the Iraqi oil trade switched from the euro back to the dollar for settlement. This showed that America was fighting for its dollar.

    http://chinascope.org/archives/6458/76

  58. Mitleser says:
    @reiner Tor

    As long as the PRC relies so much on others outside of their control for their rise, Washington will have plenty of options to undermine the rise of the PRC.

    …they will get stronger and stronger each decade…

    …so it cannot afford to retreat much.

    Can the PRC afford to retreat in the next Taiwan crisis?

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  59. @Anatoly Karlin

    $70 billion is the figure I see in Western media. Are you suggesting that this is too small for China to get worked up over it? Is this passivity some part of Chinese “cunning plan”?

    Listen to yourself, you sound just like Putinist, trying to explain his lack of action over the Ukraine.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  60. @Mitleser

    As long as the PRC relies so much on others outside of their control for their rise, Washington will have plenty of options to undermine the rise of the PRC.

    How? They can slow it down by triggering a recession. But the human capital will still be there.

    “labor force fell by 4.7m”

    Which is very little. Per capita can keep increasing. Yes, there could be a recession, but how could per capita growth be stopped in its tracks for a decade? or more?

    Can the PRC afford to retreat in the next Taiwan crisis?

    There are probably some red lines, but as long as those are not being crossed, they can see no reason not to retreat.

    Now, if those red lines will be crossed anyway, then we’ll know it was a mistake to retreat now. But how big loss will it be to have to fight for Taiwan (where China has the advantage) than for Venezuela (which would be expensive and where the US might still open another front in Taiwan)?

    • Agree: Anatoly Karlin
    • Replies: @Mitleser
  61. @peterAUS

    That’s more than enough to pwn formations of “armed opposition”, should they appear. US would love to replace Venezuela’s government without having to invade the country directly. I don’t believe they have the stomach to actually invade.

    • Replies: @peterAUS
  62. @Felix Keverich

    $70 billion is the figure I see in Western media.

    The other day you just told us we shouldn’t believe everything they say. 🙂

    As Karlin wrote, it’s the gross total of all loans ever extended since 2005 or something, and a lot of it has been refinancing only, so the outstanding loans are much smaller.

    • Replies: @Mitleser
  63. peterAUS says:
    @Felix Keverich

    That’s more than enough to pwn formations of “armed opposition”, should they appear.

    Yeah….
    Let’s wait and see.

    I don’t believe they have the stomach to actually invade.

    Of course.
    Will they have a stomach to “render assistance to anti-totalitarian/pick your name movement” , let’s wait and see too.

    History of world events, so far, points to certain conclusions and possibilities.

    But, fear not.
    Whatever happens in Venezuela will be another master stroke of multidimensional chess player and another defeat of The Empire. For the majority of (heavy) drinkers in this pub, that is.

  64. @peterAUS

    Nobody would suffer more from civil war in Venezuela than the US and its regional clients. It is in America’s best interest to deescalate this.

    • Replies: @peterAUS
  65. Mitleser says:
    @reiner Tor

    How?

    Many small steps that add up.

    A great explanation of the Huawei Kidnapping, written by a comrade in the Deng Gang Central discord

    There may be a lot more than meets the eye in Canada’s shock arrest, at US behest, of Huawei’s CFO and heir apparent Meng Wanzhou (link below).
    Chinese sources have assembled the following facts:
    • April 2017: A director of Chinese tech giant Huawei personally escorted famed Shanghai-born physicist Zhang Shoucheng from the latter’s hotel in Shenzhen. Jackson & Wood Professor of Physics at Stanford University, Zhang was in town to attend an IT summit.
    • Sept. 2018: Prof. Zhang receives a European physics award, one of his many honors. His work in quantum physics is expected to revolutionize the global semiconductor industry.
    Yang Zhenning, the first Chinese scientist to receive the Nobel Physics Prize (1957), had predicted that Zhang would be the next one.
    • Dec. 1, 2018: Prof. Zhang and Meng Wanzhou are expected to attend a dinner in Argentina, where the G20 summit is being held.
    • Dec. 1, 2018: On her way there, Meng is arrested in transit by the Canadian government.
    • Dec. 1, 2018: Prof. Zhang falls to his death from a building in the US, allegedly a suicide. Said to be suffering from depression, he was 55.
    • Dec. 1, 2018: A nighttime fire breaks out at a factory of Holland’s ASML, the world’s leading manufacturer of extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography technology. EUV is crucial to the production of the next generation of semi-conductors, which US and Chinese tech firms as well as Korea’s Samsung are competing to be first to bring to market. Leading Chinese semiconductor producer SMIC is known to have ordered EUV technology worth US$120 million from ASML, for scheduled delivery early in 2019.
    After the fire, ASML announced that it expected delays in shipments of its products, notably early 2019.

    If UMC walks away from the DRAM technology development program, it will be another setback for China’s ambitions to create a self-reliant semiconductor industry. The $5.6 billion Fujian Jinhua project in the southern Chinese city of Jinjiang was previously set to enter trial production by the end of 2018, which would mark the country’s first memory chip output. But construction was suspended because of the U.S. ban in November.

    https://asia.nikkei.com/Economy/Trade-War/Exclusive-Taiwan-s-UMC-to-scale-down-chip-project-with-Chinese-partner

    Which is very little.

    This is the seventh consecutive year of decline, noted He Yafu, an independent demographer based in the southern Guangdong province.

    The workforce is on track to decline by as much as 23 percent by 2050.

    “The low birth rate has led to a seriously ageing population. On one hand, families are getting smaller, reducing support for the elderly; on the other hand, the elderly population to workforce is growing, which increases the burden on the working population,” He said.

    Read more at: https://www.vanguardngr.com/2019/01/chinas-population-growth-slows-despite-two-child-policy/

    China cannot rely on cheap labour and has to increase the productivity of their workers in order to continue its (economic) rise, but that requires tech development which is targeted by Washington & friends.

    But how big loss will it be to have to fight for Taiwan (where China has the advantage) than for Venezuela (which would be expensive and where the US might still open another front in Taiwan)?

    Fighting for Taiwan would be already a failure of PRC Taiwan policy which aims for a slow absorption of Taiwan without endangering the development of Mainland.

    Success in Venezuela would encourage Washington to push elsewhere just as other successes did in the past.

    Since “the Libyan operation had no long-lasting consequences for the region,” the memo supposes, referring to the overthrow of strongman Muammer Gaddafi six months earlier, the Syrian operation wouldn’t either. In a passage that may have influenced Clinton’s policy of a no-fly zone, despite Dunford’s warning, the memo says:

    “Some argue that U.S. involvement risks a wider war with Russia. But the Kosovo example [in which NATO bombed Russian-ally Serbia] shows otherwise. In that case, Russia had genuine ethnic and political ties to the Serbs, which don’t exist between Russia and Syria, and even then Russia did little more than complain. Russian officials have already acknowledged they won’t stand in the way if intervention comes.”

    https://consortiumnews.com/2019/01/13/the-memo-that-helped-kill-a-half-million-people-in-syria/

    That does not mean that Bejing should send armed forces to Venezuela, but preventing regime change by other means would be the best outcome.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    , @reiner Tor
  66. @peterAUS

    The Chinese and the Russians will both fold again. Both they and the Americans are playing a dangerous game which neither of them understand.

    The Russians and the Chinese, by folding again, will strengthen the expectation that they will always fold. Which will in turn further embolden the Americans to push them next time. While the Americans don’t understand that there’s no guarantee that the Russians and Chinese will fold next time. A time may come when they will feel they cannot give any more ground. (A historical example would be the Western Powers folding every single time Hitler pushed them. Until suddenly they didn’t.)

    • Agree: Anatoly Karlin
    • Replies: @peterAUS
    , @Beckow
  67. Tyrion 2 says:
    @Dacian Julien Soros

    There was a million person march in 2017. It was ended by the brokerage of the Vatican. Then the people starved. Cheers Vatican.

    • Replies: @Dacian Julien Soros
  68. @Mitleser

    I don’t think we’re in fundamental disagreement here, except that I think the Chinese development can only be delayed by a decade at most. But always retreating is not a very good policy, because it will be difficult to tell the other side to stop pushing when the retreat stops. Then, a war might follow.

    • Replies: @Mitleser
  69. Sowhat says:
    @utu

    I agree but, this is the only way to agree even though, yesterday, I “qualified” to simply click the “Agree” button.

  70. anon[425] • Disclaimer says:

    Shadows of the past and a prelude to the future: one day the United States will be ruled by a Maduro or a Chavez who promises free gibs to the underclasses thanks to foolish immigration policies.

  71. Mitleser says:
    @reiner Tor

    The attempts to undermine Chinese development are not the biggest threat.

    The biggest threat is that inevitable Chinese dominance in the long-term is a good reason for the other side to force a confrontation sooner than later, before the Chinese are ready which is why the next decade will be a dangerous decade.

    Also explains why Washington wants to ditch INF.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  72. Regarding AK’s comment about the ‘first country to abolish the death penalty’, that honour actually belongs to the Hindu-Buddhist kingdoms of ancient India, which began abolishing the death penalty about 2000 years ago

    With thousands of Asian scholars coming to the famed university of Nalanda in northern India – in existence for about 1,700 years till Muslim invaders destroyed it – other Asian peoples, including both Japan and China! – also abolished the death penalty at points during the first millennium CE

    Ironically, today, China, Japan and India, along with the USA, remain amongst the very few non-Muslim nations to have the death penalty

    In one of the positive Talmudic decrees of ancient Jewish rabbis, they opined that any judge who imposed the death penalty in ‘even seven times seven years’, possibly had ‘murder in his heart’, and since 49 years was longer than most any judge’s career, this essentially meant it was forbidden

    Venezuela led the way with full abolition of the death penalty in modern times, although Portugal was one of the first European countries to stop using the death penalty, after 1846, and little San Marino is said not to have implemented it for many centuries

  73. @Mitleser

    The biggest threat is that inevitable Chinese dominance in the long-term is a good reason for the other side to force a confrontation sooner than later

    This is why the Chinese are trying to avoid it at all costs. It’s not necessarily an irrational policy, though it might be that the confrontation could only be avoided by a stronger response. No one knows.

  74. Sowhat says:

    This is simple, I think.
    The U.S. “foreign policy think tanks” realize that there is a perennial problem with a country that supplies us with 10% of our imported oil (even though we are supposedly producing enough to sustain ourselves, now).
    The “think tanks” decide “that isn’t good for our ‘National Security” and send the CIA in to destabilize the already destabilized Economy of Venezuela for a couple of years and, all of the sudden, Venezuelans have NO food on the shelves of their stores. And, if there was any food to be had, the price is, now, “off the charts.”
    Enter the Propaganda that the U.S. just has to intervene to remove that Corrupt Regimes and install our own Puppet.
    We, after all, have to secure our National Security.
    There have been numerous articles, the earliest date that I have found was 12/19/2018 on Voltaire.org, that said that the U.S. was now shifting from the Middle East to South and Central America” in its ever-continual but, falter”ing Complete World Dominance- The New American Century…blah blah blah; however, I believe that The U.S. may as well INTERVENE. After all, it’s what we do…you know…with the World’s Most Powerful Military Industrial Intelligence Complex…how could we resist such an opportunity to go it, clean shop, wipe their military out, install our own puppet and Voila! We can now control our imports from Venezuela and insure that our (10% of the total (needed) will continue to flow.
    I’ve grown tired and exhausted in my opposition to What our foreign policy “thinkers” decide. I’m just a little ol’ Prole without anyone who cares about me except my wife and, sometimes, even that is brought into question.
    The Federal Government doesn’t give a rats ass about me, although they say that they do, especially the Golden-Haired Chief of “what-ever-he-says-this-week (yes, I even voted for him because “crooked Hillary” was going to move us all right into the center of Socialism/Communism and, “if we only knew what she was REALLY doing, we wouldn’t believe the audacity!”).
    So, I say, “Continue to be the Interventionlist-World Popo that we have morphed into. Go it, guns blazing (We’ll only lose a hundred or so American’s and have another three hundred Vets maimed for life. Small cost, right? But, we’ll gain stability reagarding that 10% of our “oil imports”. That’s a huge deal that will thrill Wall Street and piss of the proles because the promise of future prices at the pump will( “remain around $2.50/ gl ” excepting these “hicoughs”) be another lie.
    I wish I was a better writer but, I’m not going to copy and paste this to MS Word for an edit. So live with it. And I’ll live with my tax dollars going to Wall Street and the MIIC.
    No that I’ve finished my rant, I’ll go grab a beer and sit back and watch the Nightly News fillet another 8 ounces of Trump flesh. 🙂 Dinner’s almost ready.
    What ever happens, ALL of US aren’t going to effect even a smiget of change. As the Jews say, ” oy vey ist mir.”

  75. Dmitry says:
    @Felix Keverich

    China are idiots not because they ‘aren’t helping Venezuela government now’. They are idiots because they had wasted money “investing” in Venezuela in the past.

    China’s behaviour seems recently, often like a crazy gambler, who can expend billions of dollars betting in places like Venezuela or building trains across Ethiopia.

    Economically intelligent countries like Switzerland, are not behaving this way.

    If China can understand Sunk Cost Fallacy about their past expenditure and stupid gambling, then at least they will not be compulsive gamblers.

    • Replies: @Felix Keverich
  76. peterAUS says:
    @Felix Keverich

    Nobody would suffer more from civil war in Venezuela than the US and its regional clients. It is in America’s best interest to deescalate this.

    Sounds…..interesting.

    Some people would probably disagree, as:

    Nobody would suffer more from civil war in Venezuela than the people in Venezuela. It is in the best interests of US elites to get a friendly regime there. By any means necessary.

    Sounds familiar, I guess, even for the hard core “Team Russia” members around. Actually, on second thought, cancel that. Becoming boring.

  77. Dmitry says:
    @reiner Tor

    The worst action the USA can behave in this topic, would be to climb into Venezuela’s affairs.

    This would distract so much from the “learning example” of Venezuela for the Latin American world (and really all countries trying to develop economically) – as Venezuela is demonstrating to everyone, the natural result of Chavez/Maduro’s socialistic policies.

    This collapse is happening inevitably, and is a more pure example, if other countries don’t climb into the Venezuelan affairs.

    It can be felt sympathy for the people of Venezuela (as millions have to escape the country, and many Venezuelans are working as prostitutes in even quite poor places like Colombia).

    At the same time, perhaps Latin America (and we could also learn from remembering this) will permanently reject that failing economic and political model, after watching this Chavez/Maduro tragicomedy of the last two decades.

  78. peterAUS says:
    @reiner Tor

    The Chinese and the Russians will both fold again. Both they and the Americans are playing a dangerous game which neither of them understand.

    The Russians and the Chinese, by folding again, will strengthen the expectation that they will always fold. Which will in turn further embolden the Americans to push them next time. While the Americans don’t understand that there’s no guarantee that the Russians and Chinese will fold next time. A time may come when they will feel they cannot give any more ground.

    My point exactly in most comments about today’s world.
    Probably the main reasons I even think, let alone post, about all that.

    Having said that, it is possible that USA will overextend, even implode, before the real thing (M.A.D.) happens.

    Say……80/20 %.

    That 20 % is the hope I’ll live well into old age.
    The 80 % is the worry, though.

  79. @Mitleser

    I just bumped into this, very old (Cold War) story, but interesting, too:

    https://www.thevintagenews.com/2018/09/16/star-wars-program/

  80. @Dmitry

    Again, you’re missing the point. Russia shows that it’s willing to defend its investments in Venezuela, behaving like a superpower should. Chinese are failing to defend their interests, because presumably, confronting America is more stress, than their little hearts can handle. A nation like this will never be superpower, IQ and population size notwithstanding.

    • Replies: @Dmitry
    , @Bukephalos
  81. Dmitry says:
    @Felix Keverich

    Lesson is China should not have given $30 billion to Venezuela, where it is inevitable they will lose it (there is not investment to protect there, just sunk costs in an inevitably collapsing economy). Anyone would predict the money would not return, when you invest it in an “Idiocracy” and “Banana Republic”.

    Conflict between Venezuela and America is irrelevant there – Venezuela is going to collapse even without America climbing into their affairs.

    A delayed collapse in Venezuela will result probably in even larger losses of investments by friends trying to support thecountry, as Venezuela’s oil industry is now in a terminal decline (even as oil prices were rising last year). Venezuela is an “Idiocracy” – country which can only hurt its friends and help its enemies.

    As for China in general. I worry a lot less for their alleged superpower projection abilities, and more that they lack of basic judgement expected of a medium-level state.

    For example, what is the benefit of China building trains across Ethiopia. (If China continue wasting their income on this, they may have difficulty ascending to become a developed country, let alone a superpower.)

  82. Beckow says:
    @reiner Tor

    …Chinese and the Russians will both fold again. Both they and the Americans are playing a dangerous game which neither of them understand.

    I am not sure ‘fold‘ is the right term. To avoid unnecessary confrontation in a non-strategic region where US has complete local dominance is better than lose in that conflict. Whatever happens next in Venezuela will likely hurt US: civil war, invasion, refugees, economic collapse – all are really bad for Washington. They gain nothing except feeling like a ‘winner‘, but the costs will be high: US will be expected to pay for all of it and the PR cost in Latin America will be quite high.

    Something similar could happen in Ukraine: if the economy there doesn’t improve and the central government eventually collapses, technically the Russian side could win, but what exactly would they win? Responsibility and care for 40 million angry, volatile Ukrainians who have shown that they suffer from a collective rationality deficit. At best Ukraine would become a business competitor forever tempted to abscond again towards their dream of Europe. More likely Russia would inherit a huge economic and infrastructure mess and be expected to fix it. Forget North Stream 2, forget self-sufficiency – it would be back to the worst times of the 90’s with Russia patiently paying for unreliable ‘allies‘. And waiting for Maidan-X to start all over again.

    Washington and Moscow are unable to play the game rationally without obsessing about the other. They both – especially US – don’t understand that winning has nothing to do with anyone else, that references to others are distractions, that winning is about you and your people, others living in far away places have nothing to do with it. It is not a standard 2-team ‘game’ with wins, losses and ties, that faulty game metaphor has made reality harder to understand. At his best Trump seemed to understand it, but today he seems buried in the mud of experts who know better. The best thing to do when a foreign society goes through convulsions and strife is to stand aside, don’t get involved. That’s true about Ukraine and Venezuela.

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  83. @Beckow

    to play the game rationally

    Apparently you still haven’t read up on game theory. A rational and smart player will always play partly irrationally.

    • Replies: @Beckow
  84. @Dmitry

    Venezuela is going to collapse even without America climbing into their affairs.

    Have you seen Mitleser’s oil production graph comparing it to Colombia? It’s not so sure things would be so bad without the US embargo.

    They have the oil, so they should be able to pay for themselves. They need to be pushed to do a little less irrational economic policy (America does that all the time with its dysfunctional allies), and the Russians and Chinese should have pushed for a more rational economic policy earlier.

  85. Cyrano says:

    In order to avoid turning Caracas into Carcass for the capitalist vultures, I suggest that they give to every citizen of Venezuela – a Vuvuzela, so they can burst the ear drums of their enemies – even though they are thousands of kilometers away.

  86. Hibernian says:
    @redmudhooch

    “Americans have been trained by decades of Cold War propaganda to look for any confirmation that ‘socialism means poverty.’”

    We find the confirmation in our own cities.

  87. @Dmitry

    Average IQ regardless, Ethiopia seems to be run pretty competently: http://www.unz.com/akarlin/ethiopia/

    China might see positive returns there.

  88. Yee says:

    Dmitry,

    “Lesson is China should not have given $30 billion to Venezuela, where it is inevitable they will lose it ”

    So will the 1.3 trillion trapped in US treasury bond… At least money to Venezuela get us some oil, much better than loan to the US.

    China would very much want to shift the loan to the US to other countries, but of course the US keep telling other countries not to take loans from China…

  89. @Dmitry

    As for China in general. I worry a lot less for their alleged superpower projection abilities, and more that they lack of basic judgement expected of a medium-level state.

    Whether it is intentional or not, China has been accused of offering loans to ‘third world’ countries with the expectation that there is a likely chance they cannot repay.

    If this happens, China then obtains the collateral of many assets in the foreign country and gains further control.

    Of course, then they also have to make sure US-backed colour revolutionaries don’t take over.

    So it is risky, but not inherently stupid.

  90. Beckow says:
    @reiner Tor

    a rational and smart player will always play partly irrationally.

    You like that irrationality bit – but it makes me uncomfortable. We are playing with nukes, the game cannot be won on points. Even if you remove the nuke angle, I just dislike fools and clowns.

    Since Alicia Machado gained all that weight, what is there to win in Venezuela?

    • Replies: @reiner Tor
  91. @Tyrion 2

    In 2017, the streets of Bucharest were filled with anti-corruption protestards. There’s a famous picture with some hundreds of thousands waving their phones. Nothing has changed in the meantime, the governing party dropped in the polls from 37% to 27%, but the protests rarely draw 10,000 people.

    The same apathy may be seen in today’s Caracas. I don’t think I saw 10 thousand at today’s Maidan. I am sure others saw what they wanted, just like I might have my biases. For example, I am sure Bolton saw the whole Venezuelan nation.

    Also, according to WHO (data from 2016, admittedly), the fattest South Americans are Mexicans, with 30% frank obese. Next come Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay at 28%. Fifth are the “starving Venezuelans” at 25.6%. At the bottom, Peru and Ecuador have slightly fewer than 20% obese.

    Since I lived through very similar circumstances in Romania in 1989, I learned that this crap with nearly-free rationed groceries does not pay off. The poor, who are the only ones to truly benefit, are too stupid to appreciate it, and will not rise up to protect their gibs. The others are just pissed off they can’t completely humiliate their poorer neighbors. “Look at them, eating so much bread, and refusing to work for peanuts” sort of derangement.

  92. @Anatoly Karlin

    One reason why I gave up on prediction games is that the outcome was called by Americans, according to American standards.
    I am pretty sure that, at this point, Maduro may be saved, but the dickheads running GJP already call him dead. They did something along these lines wit a discussion on some suburb of Damascus: Assad said he has under control, but Sam Power, or some other US liar, said he doesn’t, so I lost. Obviously, in the long run, Assad did prove he runs the place.
    If you want to see 100 Americans claiming that “Maduro ded” because they are incentivized to do so, then, by all means, go see their “predictions”.

  93. @Beckow

    If you are playing with nukes, game theory is essential. Otherwise your foolish “each step is a rational (and thus easily predictable) retreat” will embolden your enemies and they will keep pushing. This continuous push is what could lead to a nuclear war.

    If you keep rationally calculating each step, you will never use your nukes: after all, not only is Venezuela not worth a nuclear war, but neither is Ukraine, the Crimea, or Volgograd. There will never come a point where nuclear war will be “worth it” in a rational sense. So by signaling that you are perfectly rational and always making a cost-benefit analysis, you are basically inviting your enemies to keep pushing you.

    This is what is super dangerous, because I suspect even you are not that rational (most people certainly aren’t), and at some point you will order the nukes. Which would be better avoided.

    A much better strategy would be to advertise that, while you are mostly peaceful when unprovoked, you could turn extremely crazy at the slightest provocation. Building such an image is not for free (you have to make the occasional foolish sacrifice, and yes, there is some risk of one such occasion turning into some unintended wider conflagration), but it’s ultimately not only way more beneficial (because they will leave you alone – no one wants to provoke a madman), but also ultimately way safer (because the constant provocations run the risk of a nuclear war, so it’s better if there are very few provocations).

    But why don’t you read something about game theory and MAD? You seem unwilling to even consider what I’m writing.

    • Replies: @peterAUS
    , @Beckow
  94. peterAUS says:
    @reiner Tor

    If you are playing with nukes, game theory is essential. Otherwise your foolish “each step is a rational (and thus easily predictable) retreat” will embolden your enemies and they will keep pushing. This continuous push is what could lead to a nuclear war.

    If you keep rationally calculating each step, you will never use your nukes: after all, not only is Venezuela not worth a nuclear war, but neither is Ukraine, the Crimea, or Volgograd. There will never come a point where nuclear war will be “worth it” in a rational sense. So by signaling that you are perfectly rational and always making a cost-benefit analysis, you are basically inviting your enemies to keep pushing you.

    Yep.

    As to

    …. unwilling to even consider what I’m writing.

    it’s simply a normal reaction to a horrific outcome.
    Goes deeper. Most people can’t accept that those being good, rational, correct, morally right etc. do NOT, often, win in real life on this planet. That, more often that we want to acknowledge, bad, nasty, stupid and evil, do win.
    That’s just not fair, isn’t it? Not….fair.

  95. @Felix Keverich

    this leaves out the possibility of some sort of agreement between the two. Russia brings the military muscle while China pays. This would actually be the most rational division of labor for both countries.

    We haven’t yet seen Chinese investment flowing into Syria but they regularly declare their intent to do so. Of course if there is an agreement you can be repaid somewhere else. Russia-Chinese trade is increasing and now the Russian side posted a surplus as per late 2018 data (one of the few trading partners of China in this position). Also we know that China offered help to prop up the ruble during the Ukraine crisis https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-offers-russia-ruble-help-1419246792

  96. Nawi says:
    @Hyperborean

    “I have heard that the lisping quality of Peninsular Spanish is the result of people who imitated the speech patterns of a lisping king.” Nothing to do with a king and not everywhere in Spain is the Z pronounced =. In many parts of Spain, particularly the whole south and the Canary islands, people pronounce the Z like in the rest of the Spanish speaking world >>>> on the other side of the Atlantic.

  97. Nawi says:
    @Dacian Julien Soros

    “I hope Venezuelans get some democracy, just like the Brazilians and Argentinians got.” Oh, great, thank you in the name of all Argentinians. By the way, do you know that Argentina “got” democracy in 1983, 6 years before that black hole called Romania ?

  98. Nawi says:
    @reiner Tor

    “So the US would disguise its troops as Brazilians? Or you think the combined might of China and Russia would not succeed in militarily propping up the Venezuelan government against… the combined forces of Brazil and Colombia?” The Cubans alone can take care of both, Brazilians and Colombians together. In Angola the Cubans kicked South Africans “ass…”many times and with the first Brazilian soldier that goes back to Brazil in a coffin, Bolsonaro will have a few million Brazilians in the street. Same for the Colombians.

  99. Nawi says:

    “So imagine this handsome, mustachioed caudillo called Juan, he is relaxing at his hacienda and he has perhaps drunk a bit too much rum this afternoon. Or maybe just the right amount, considering what is about to happen. He doffs his big gaucho hat, calls over his loyal posse, and sets out for the nearest plaza in the eastern llamas, where he regales the mob with a drunken, rambling speech about how President Jose is a pendejo. Ragtag militia in tow, Juan marches to Caracas, makes his grand entrance on a white horse, and drunkenly proclaims himself the new El Presidente. Jose, being a good sport and all, accepts this development in good humor, confident in the knowledge that he or his good amigo Joaquín would repeat this piece of performance art in a year or two.”

    For God ´s sake Karlin, what a pile of crap, full of stereotypes and prejudices and I suppose you even probably think that you are funny. Have you even been south of the border ? I am not saying Patagonia…..let´s say..Tijuana perhaps ? You are a very good product of a society that has been zombified “in extremis”.

  100. donnyess says: • Website

    Trump admins border wall…perhaps nothing more than a sort-of political straw man metaphor, will have the effect of keeping in the minds of the American working class (especially blacks)…the fear of Latino migrants moving north…taking American jobs. Perhaps Americans won’t care if the Trump admin decides to totally blast some crappy 3rd world Latino hell-hole. The more Latinos that get killed the better?

    Putin will be seen as having flaked-out on Venezuela. The Russian state will lose credibility…as a nuclear armed power…for having failed to protect it’s foreign interests and investments.

    China is a sweatshop nation, but will be “allowed” their raw material inputs.

    Perhaps Canada is now taking a leadership role in Arctic Circle integration…impeding Chinese telecom while inviting Nordic firms to participate in future telecom (5G) development…perhaps this is in line with a larger goal of integrating the Arctic Circle nations into NATO.

    http://theconversation.com/how-canada-is-inspiring-scandinavian-countries-on-immigration-90911
    https://globalnews.ca/news/4884541/ottawa-nokia-deal-5g-technology/

  101. Beckow says:
    @reiner Tor

    I have considered it. (I spend a lot of time doing AI simulations for whatever it is worth.) In normal circumstances when the stakes are manageable it might make sense to signal irrationality. You are right – it works well in a street fight, marriage, sometimes in a conflict between states. But there are a few issues that one needs to think through:

    no one wants to provoke a madman

    A madman might. If both sides engage in ‘I am crazy, don’t mess with me’ theater, how is it going to end? In this case one side might actually be that crazy in reality. I am not sure, but some of the masters of the universe rhetoric and actions suggest that the madness is not necessarily simulated. They seem to suffer from advanced infantilism and that is not that far from madness.

    There is also a timing issue: whose situation improves with time? The side losing with passage of time is forced into not well thought out initiatives. Maybe letting them do it is smarter than standing in their way. Being over-extended is a pretty bad strategic position, mad or sane, it is hard to keep track of all the ‘winnings‘. Hubris sets in, complexity has its own costs.

    As in most cases when you model reality, or try to control it, there are numerous metrics to follow. Historically, the one metric that you don’t track will most likely be the one that will defeat you. That happens with companies, people, and countries. In this case, West’s Achilles could be that they are not able to handle the next economic crisis (more like a debt crisis). When that parameter changes – and it eventually will – having lots of expensive dependencies becomes a negative.

    It is also just more fun to be rational. Not everything is about winning a game.

  102. peterAUS says:

    Not everything is about winning a game.

    That’s an interesting point.

    The Game of Survival (for a lack of better expression)?

  103. Mitleser says:
    @reiner Tor

    The other day you just told us we shouldn’t believe everything they say.

    Exactly.

    Reports are coming that Russia has deployed up to 400 mercenaries to guard Maduro. Again, I have to ask: what is China doing right now to prop up Maduro regime?

    http://www.unz.com/akarlin/venezuela/#comment-2780067

    But people all over the place are calling BS on especially the “400” part: Reuters’ source Shabayev is a well-known hoaxer, there is a wealth of information about him and his many antics on the Runet. He lives on the outskirts of Moscow and styles himself as the “ataman” of Khorvino (much Cossack indeed), has never been in the military or anything, he’s known for creating various organizations and “Cossack” chapters all over the place that aren’t even real (and whose only purpose appear to be to scam people) and that soon get shutdown only to re-appear in another form later, he adorns himself with fake medals he bought online etc.

    It is quite possible that the entire story is false apart from the red flags surrounding this character, as, well, the rest of it is based on two “anonymous sources” which hasn’t exactly proven to be a trustworthy thing in the past.

    Finally, and this is just pure conjecture, but wouldn’t it be rather retarded of Maduro to hire foreign mercenaries to protect him? The Venezuelan military is on his side, but with a move like this reeking of distrust towards his own guys, their continued loyalty would be far from guaranteed. And no silly Cossacks would help in that case.

    http://themess.net/forum/military-discussion/280149-situation-in-venezuela?p=388848#post388848

    • Agree: Anatoly Karlin
    • Replies: @AmRusDebate
  104. Tyrion 2 says:
    @reiner Tor

    They can keep him going by supplying him with endless money, sure. But it would have to be a lot more than now and they’d be better off burning it for their own amusement.

    As for whether the governments in Brazil and Colombia would expend small resources to get rid of Maduro, one has to assume they would. Were such a cretin in charge of France, I’d happily personally donate to the cause. They are also ideological opposites. I’m sure the million plus people who have run from Venezuela to right wing governed Colombia would gladly help too.

    Finally, for “trip wire” forces, a handful of out of place and undefended military assets can only be in one place at one time. They would not be hard to work around. If they didn’t just break down of their own accord. Military equipment tends to do that a lot because of its bespoke nature. The two fighter bombs Russia sent over as a display would be particularly unsuitable for such an effect.

    I also read that “Russian mercenaries” are in Venezuela to “protect Maduro”. I’d wager some fruit loops have been bought in but anyone serious and Russian is actually there to protect Russian oil/gas assets in the small period of turmoil that will follow Maduro going.

    The bloke is a real prick who has run his country into the ground. This is not like the NYT’s hyperbole about Putin or Trump. It is just a dry description.

    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-46999668

  105. AmRusDebate says: • Website

    FYI, my @siliconvalleyso account has been suspended following an intervention from an Indian engineer at Twitter unhappy with my mockery of Hindu nationalism. You can read about it here:
    https://bannedfrommedium.wordpress.com/2019/02/01/another-twitter-account-banned/

    I’ve been keeping an eye on Russian media coverage of Venezuela, and I found your “deep history” a bit less interesting in retrospect.

    You make a lot of assumptions about the country, that are word-for-word opinions of leading Russian media figures.

    I don’t want to knock your work, but what I heard in the Russian media, was both ignorant and pathetic. Stereotypes which conflate Maracaibo with Tortuga, a know-nothing attitude by big-mouthed Russian baritones- considering what is at stake, are dismaying.

    Seems Latin America not only suffers from its own superficiality, the way others treat it, is even more superficial.

    I think it is important to know the history of the Vice-royalty of New Granada, Vice-royalty of Venezuela, and of Gran’ Colombia, and not lump large periods into single block (as you do for the 19th century). The political border changes were of tremendous import in the first third of the 19th century and should be dis-aggregated.

    The Maracaibo region comprised the central triangle (Carthage, Veracruz) of the Spanish Main, and its possession is what accounts for Venezuela’s current wealth. How Grand Columbia was de-figured, is a worthy story since Chavez had sought its reunification…an idea first making waves in the early 20th century when America laid the final blow to any plans of reunification due to Panama. Also of interest is that America signed its first bilateral trade treaty with a Latin American power, with what was at the time Gran Columbia (Anderson–Gual Treaty), of interest because there is indeed a larger, “deeper” pattern here.

    What I really have a bone of contention with is yours

    ” but 90% of it is economically uncompetitive heavy oil. Extracting it will cost more than it will get on the oil markets and turn the Orinoco into a tarry slurry. “

    You know, stuff like this is easily said, has big impact (had on me when I first read it here) but upon second thought it’s misleading and amounts to a personal opinion. I was mislead by it!

    From my limited reading on Caracas’ oil reserves afterwards, the 300 billion barrel figure that have been “discovered” are rather easily recoverable. Costs of extraction of Venezuela are perfectly in keeping with the international average (nor do they seem to constraint production in capital rich countries such as the USA).

    What is not easily recoverable is a potential mammoth 1000 bb available in the Orinoco, which I suppose are “shale” and tar sand oils, but are not part of the 300 bb figure.

    These are really important stylized “facts” (they need to be further researched and established) and in my opinion, dramatically change the nature of the debate.

    Curiously, I heard Russian analysts make the same claim about Venezuela’s oil reserves, and considering Russia’s export dependence on hydrocarbons I find it a good measure of the general ignorance of Russian commentators. How well do you have to be kept in the dark in a country whose biggest corporates are energy companies?! I mean Russia’s three biggest corps have a revenue stream of 300 billion dollars, roughly equal to all remaining corporates combined (and total sector value is roughly 20 out of 100 companies of Russian corporates)

    Look at the opaque investments made by Rossneft, Gazprom, Lukoil, Sinopec, CNPC in Venezuela…would they be throwing their money to the wind if they didn’t think it had good ROI?

    Someone with time on their hands should do a good ‘deep contemporary politics’ article (rather than ‘deep histories’ which turn out not so deep) on just how Sinopec had been suing PDVSA for five years, how LUKOIL and Rossneft struggle with Citgo assets which they claim as their own, and into which they are supposed to have pumped 7 billion dollars.

    On my now suspended twitter account, I posted several pics of Venezeula’s economic wealth in the first half of the 20th century, which belie the “another Latin American country” characterization as a rather crude stereotype, hardly applicable in the case of Caracas. Speaking of which, Venezuela played a crucial role in establishing OPEC (Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonzo). And I find the following a very revelatory and relevant bit of information to any discussion about Venezuela.

    In 1949, Venezuela and Iran took the earliest steps in the direction of OPEC, by inviting Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to improve communication among petroleum-exporting nations as the world recovered from World War II.[54] At the time, some of the world’s largest oil fields were just entering production in the Middle East. The United States had established the Interstate Oil Compact Commission to join the Texas Railroad Commission in limiting overproduction. The US was simultaneously the world’s largest producer and consumer of oil; and the world market was dominated by a group of multinational companies known as the “Seven Sisters”, five of which were headquartered in the US following the breakup of John D. Rockefeller’s original Standard Oil monopoly. Oil-exporting countries were eventually motivated to form OPEC as a counterweight to this concentration of political and economic power.[55]

    Let this sink in. OPEC not as a third-world organization bent on swindling first-world customers, but a copy and paste of Houston’s own tendency to consolidate power and exercise exaggerated influence in countries such as Venezuela.

    • Replies: @Mitleser
  106. Mitleser says:
    @AmRusDebate

    From my limited reading on Caracas’ oil reserves afterwards, the 300 billion barrel figure that have been “discovered” are rather easily recoverable. Costs of extraction of Venezuela are perfectly in keeping with the international average (nor do they seem to constraint production in capital rich countries such as the USA).

    Actually, costs of extraction were a problem in Venezuela that contributed to the decline of Venezuela.

    The end of the comparative advantage (1958-1973)

    Simultaneously with the beginning of the democratic era, important changes were occurring in the oil markets. As shown in Table 4, other future producers of what would become the Organization of Petroleum Exporter Countries (OPEC) were asserting themselves in the market.
    Moreover, as seen from the table, Venezuela was at a disadvantage relative to those countries. Venezuelan costs were higher and reserves were lower (given the high rate of extraction relative to the reserve stock).

    Secondly, it has been already mentioned that Venezuela had higher costs, which suggests that the Venezuelan oil sector lost its competitive edge in this period. Other measures (stated in the Appendix) also suggest this. Therefore, it should have been
    expected that oil companies would have shifted investment from Venezuela to other more productive oil countries.

    http://frrodriguez.web.wesleyan.edu/docs/Books/Venezuela_Anatomy_of_a_Collapse.pdf

  107. @Mitleser

    you’re reading something from MSM propaganda material. Take a look at any reputable source on the issue, i.e.

    Google it.

Current Commenter
says:

Leave a Reply - If you are new to my work, *start here*. If you liked this post, and want me to produce more such content, consider *donating*.


 Remember My InformationWhy?
 Email Replies to my Comment
Submitted comments become the property of The Unz Review and may be republished elsewhere at the sole discretion of the latter
Subscribe to This Comment Thread via RSS Subscribe to All Anatoly Karlin Comments via RSS