US National Security Adviser John Bolton may be known for a lot of things, but “diplomat” is not one of them. In 2005, Bolton was never confirmed by the US Senate to be George W. Bush’s ambassador to the United Nations because the walrus-mustachioed neoconservative ideologue had made past comments deriding the UN as a useless organization. In 1994, Bolton infamously said, “There is no United Nations. There is an international community that occasionally can be led by the only real power left in the world, and that’s the United States, when it suits our interests and when we can get others to go along… The [UN] Secretariat Building in New York has 38 stories. If you lost ten stories today, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.”
In August 2005, defying the wishes of the Senate, Bush forced Bolton in as the chief US delegate to the UN by appointing him during a Senate recess. Bolton’s tenure at the UN was marked by non-stop bombast, which created undiplomatic rancor between the US mission, the UN, and other member states’ permanent missions.
Currently, as National Security Adviser, Bolton works in tandem with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, whose 2010 congressional campaign in Kansas distributed racist commentary referring to his Democratic opponent, Raj Goyle — an Indian-American — as a “turban topper” and President Barack Obama as an “evil Muslim communist.” As one might expect, the dastardly duo of Bolton and Pompeo at the helm of US foreign policy has sparked diplomatic chaos between Washington and other nations.
In their zeal to ensure unanimous global support for America’s designated puppet, Juan Guaido, to seize control of Venezuela from the democratically-elected president, Nicolas Maduro, Bolton, with Pompeo’s assistance, has instructed US ambassadors around the world to deliver strong démarches to governments that remain supportive of Maduro. In the case of Nepal, where the governing party expressed solidarity with Maduro, US interference triggered a government crisis. It does not help the US cause that Donald Trump refers to Nepal as “nipple” and neighboring Bhutan as “button” on top of believing that both nations are part of India. Historic Indian annexation designs on Nepal and Bhutan, which is what happened to their sister nation of Sikkim, rankles the population of all three Himalayan states.
Similar untactful US démarches were delivered to the governments of three Eastern Caribbean states that are allies of the Maduro government: Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
However, it was in Katmandu, the Nepali capital, where the effects of Bolton’s and Pompeo’s pomposity were on full display. The US ambassador to Nepal, Randy Berry, met with Nepali Prime Minister K.P. Oli to criticize the January 25 statement by ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, the former prime minister, also known as “Prachanda,” that denounced American interference in the affairs of Venezuela.
Berry insisted on delivering his démarche to the Nepali prime minister during the evening hours at the prime minister’s official residence at Baluwatar in Kathmandu. Berry was also instructed by Washington to skip Prime Minister Oli’s February 1 briefing to foreign diplomats in Kathmandu. Berry also rebuked Prachanda’s and the governing party’s statement that denounced Washington and its allies for destabilizing the democratically elected government of Venezuela through the imposition of “inhuman economic sanctions” and threatening “military intervention.”
Berry took issue with Prachanda’ statement being an almost exact duplicate of the one issued by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M). Far from being a fringe leftist party, the CPI-M governs in the state of Kerala and holds 43 seats in the Legislative Assembly of West Bengal. Both the NCP and CPI-M statements accused the United States of “making attempts to destabilize the country” of Venezuela and initiating a “coup attempt.” Both party statements condemn the “act of aggression of US imperialism on Venezuela,” while appealing to international community to stand in favor of Venezuela. Berry demanded an explanation from Oli whether Prachanda’s statement reflected that of the government.
After the meeting between Berry and Oli, the Nepali Foreign Ministry issued a “clarification” of Nepal’s views on the Venezuelan situation. Prachanda said the government’s statement that Nepal opposed “all foreign interference in Venezuela” was not his or his governing party’s view.
Prachanda’s statement read: “Self-declaration of Juan Guaido as the acting president of Venezuela, and immediate recognition by the US and some Latin American countries, clearly shows that there is a grand design against the legitimately elected president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro, and the Venezuelan people.”
The CPI-M statement read: “The Communist Party of India (Marxist) strongly denounces the US intervention in the internal affairs of Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. The recognition by the US of Juan Guaido, the leader of the opposition groups in Venezuela as the president of Venezuela, is an attempt to subvert the constitutional order in that country and encourage a coup.”
Nepal and Venezuela do not maintain diplomatic relations, which made the US démarche appear to be the result of taking Nepal to the woodshed over its support for Maduro. In Washington, the State Department summoned Nepali ambassador Arjun Karki, who was rebuked for the NCP statement on Venezuela.
Nepal is not the only country to have suffered the right-wing wrath of the Pompeo State Department over its stance on Venezuela. Last September, the State Department revoked the US visa renewal waiver program for three Venezuelan allies in the Caribbean – Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Dominica. The visa renewal waiver permitted citizens of the three nations to forgo the lengthy interview process in renewing their US visas. Without the visa waiver, citizens of the three island nations are now required to travel to the US embassy in Barbados to renew their American visas. A press release by the Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda stated: “The Cabinet is firmly persuaded that the exclusion is connected to the friendship which the three states have developed with the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.” Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minster Gaston Browne told the Miami Herald, “The majority of countries that are in CARICOM [Caribbean Community] do not accept Juan Guaido as the interim president . . . In fact, we believe that it is an extremely dangerous precedent … which has absolutely no basis in law, it has no constitutional backing, it has no support of international law, and it’s really an affront to democracy within the hemisphere.”
The Trump administration is also refusing to pay Antigua and Barbuda $250 million awarded to the nation by the World Trade Organization over unfair US trade practices. Similar economic pressure by the United States has been waged against Venezuela for several years, resulting in severe damage to the Venezuelan economy. The Trump administration now appears bent on applying similar financial pain on Venezuela’s diplomatic allies around the world.
Greece has also been rebuked by the United States for standing firm in supporting the Maduro government. In Athens, Panos Skourletis, the secretary of the governing leftist SYRIZA party’s central committee, told Venezuelan ambassador Farid Fernandez that “SYRIZA expresses its full support and solidarity with the legitimate president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro.” On January 3, 2019, the Greek Consul-General in Venezuela, Aggelos Haritos, was found dead in his room at the Hotel Altamira Suites in Caracas. Haritos, who was 55, was said to have died from a heart attack, however, the Venezuelan police have not ruled out other possibilities. Last year, the United States put pressure on the South African government after its ambassador in Caracas, Joseph Nkosi, vowed to have the South African National Defense Force dispatched to Venezuela to defend the country against an American military invasion threatened by Trump. South Africa retracted Nkosi’s comments. Nevertheless, last month, South Africa joined with China, Russia, and Equatorial Guinea in voting no in the United Nations Security Council on a request by the US to discuss the situation in Venezuela.
Trump, who ran on a platform of eschewing the “regime change” antics of past US administrations, has now fully embraced the neocon agenda advanced by such regime change advocates as Bolton, Pompeo, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, and a steady stream of talking heads from Fox News who have been designated to assume control over the US seat at the UN and the State Department’s “Global Engagement Center,” the latter a propaganda operation.
This article originally appeared in Strategic Culture Foundation on-line journal.
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).