The Trump administration, now rife with regime change advocates and neocon firebrands like John Bolton as national security adviser, Elliott Abrams as the “special envoy” for Venezuela, as well as Tea Party/neocon hybrid Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State, is backing regime changes in not less than five countries. The chief champion for regime change in Vice President Mike Pence, who has toured Latin America looking for allies for the neocon geopolitical cause. Most of Trump’s regime change targets are in Latin America.
In an August 2016 campaign speech, Donald Trump. criticizing one of the mainstays of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s tenure at the State Department, proclaimed: “Our current strategy of nation-building and regime change is a proven failure.” Yet, Trump has set out to emulate Clinton in backing regime change in Venezuela, where he has recognized the president of the National Assembly, Juan Guaido, as the unelected “interim president” of Venezuela and threatened to invade the country to install the puppet Guaido in office.
From the outset of his presidency, Trump has sought regime change in Iran. His pulling the United States out of the painstakingly-negotiated Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on Iran’s nuclear program and his subsequent increased economic sanctions on Iran all had the purpose of effecting regime change in that nation.
Trump’s most blatant attempt at regime change, however, is in Venezuela. After an aborted attempt last year at overthrowing Nicaragua’s president, Daniel Ortega, the neocons’ old enemy from the Reagan years and the Iran-contra scandal, the Trump team turned their full attention to Venezuela. Bolton, using typical neocon hyperbole, made infamous by George W. Bush’s “axis of evil,” called Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba the “troika of tyranny.”
The Trump administration saw an opportunity for regime change in Venezuela on May 18, 2018, when Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro was re-elected. The Trump administration immediately issued a statement that they did not recognize Maduro’s election, hypocritically citing election fraud as the reason. In fact, the election process was given high marks by election observers from several electoral commissions from around the world as free and fair. Maduro won the election with 68 percent of the vote against five other candidates.
After far-right candidates were elected presidents of Colombia and Brazil, with both offering Trump military bases from which to launch an attack on Venezuela, the U.S. added military pressure to its ongoing economic war against Venezuela. In August 2018, Trump began pressuring his national security team and leaders in Latin America to launch an attack on Venezuela to oust Maduro. In mid-December 2018, a few weeks prior to Maduro being sworn into his second term as president, Trump officials in Washington met with Guaido, who secretly left Venezuela by being exfiltrated across the border into Colombia.
Recently, Bolton was photographed following a White House meeting carrying a yellow note pad with the words “5,000 troops to Colombia.” That was followed by the announcement that the commander of the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) in Miami, Major General Mark Stammer, would be visiting Colombia to discuss with Colombian military officers the situation along the Colombian-Venezuelan border. The actual “troika of tyranny” is the combination of Miami’s right-wing interventionist Senator Marco Rubio, SOUTHCOM, and the right-wing Venezuelan oligarchs who fled Venezuela and are domiciled in Miami-Dade with their right-wing friends among the Cuban exile community.
In an effort to bring about regime change in Cuba, the Trump administration has frozen U.S.-Cuban diplomatic relations and increased economic pressure on Havana.
Ortega is not out of the woods as the Trump neocons, using street demonstration tactics pioneered and financed by Trump bugbear George Soros, continue a propaganda blitz aimed at Nicaragua’s democratically-elected Sandinista government.
Trump dispatched U.S. troops to Gabon in west Africa, following the December 2018 presidential election in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The American gunboat diplomacy was intended to disrupt the Congolese vote count, which allegedly showed, but without proof, that America’s preferred candidate, former ExxonMobil executive Martin Fayule beat the moderate leftist opposition candidate, Etienne Tshisekedi. Using the same tactics as employed against Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba, and other countries, the neocons are threatening the DRC with visa denials, sanctions, and other measures against key members of the new government of President Tshisekedi.
Trump, the candidate who ran against the Bush and Obama policies of regime change has become one of the doctrine’s chief advocates. However, two can play at the outside interference game as nations around the world contemplate how they might assist in Trump’s ouster from office in the 2020 election. The political knives are being sharpened in places like Beijing and New Delhi, Mexico City and London and Paris and Berlin as the 2020 U.S. presidential election gets fully underway.
Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.
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Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).