Trump Has Been Suggesting a Naval Blockade of Venezuela for a Year but Pentagon Won’t Take Him Seriously

It can't be done, not with everything else the Imperial Navy has on its plate

President Trump has suggested to national security officials that the U.S. should station Navy ships along the Venezuelan coastline to prevent goods from coming in and out of the country, according to 5 current and former officials who have either directly heard the president discuss the idea or have been briefed on Trump’s private comments.

Driving the news: Trump has been raising the idea of a naval blockade periodically for at least a year and a half, and as recently as several weeks ago, these officials said. They added that to their knowledge the Pentagon hasn’t taken this extreme idea seriously, in part because senior officials believe it’s impractical, has no legal basis and would suck resources from a Navy that is already stretched to counter China and Iran.

  • Trump has publicly alluded to a naval blockade of Venezuela. Earlier this month he answered “Yes, I am” when a reporter asked whether he was mulling such a move. But he hasn’t elaborated on the idea publicly.

In private, Trump has expressed himself more vividly, these current and former officials say.

  • “He literally just said we should get the ships out there and do a naval embargo,” said one source who’s heard the president’s comments. “Prevent anything going in.”
  • “I’m assuming he’s thinking of the Cuban missile crisis,” the source added. “But Cuba is an island and Venezuela is a massive coastline. And Cuba we knew what we were trying to prevent from getting in. But here what are we talking about? It would need massive, massive amounts of resources; probably more than the U.S. Navy can provide.”

Hawkish GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, a close Trump ally, has a different perspective about the value of a show of military force. “I’ve been saying for months that when the Venezuelan military sees an American military presence gathering force, this thing ends pretty quickly,” he told me.

Behind the scenes: In recent months, an alleged drug lord [alleged by the US, actually what he is is an important party boss] in President Nicolás Maduro’s inner circle has reached out to the White House through intermediaries, according to administration officials and other sources briefed on the outreach.

  • Diosdado Cabello, an alleged drug lord with substantial power inside the Venezuelan political and military elite, has been communicating through emissaries with National Security Council official Mauricio Claver-Carone, these sources said. These sources did not know what messages, if any, Claver-Carone had sent back to Cabello through these intermediaries.
  • A senior administration official added that members of various centers of power within Venezuela, including Cabello, have been reaching out through emissaries to U.S. government officials.
  • Trump administration officials view Cabello as an important power broker, and some say the Venezuelan opposition’s April 30 uprising would have succeeded if Cabello had been involved.
  • Some State Department officials are concerned about the idea of communicating with an alleged drug lord, per a source familiar with the situation. It’s also the case that some administration officials have assessed that Cabello purportedly sending messages is a positive sign and suggests Maduro’s circle is gradually cracking.

The big picture: Thus far, Trump has sought to strangle dictator Maduro with escalating sanctions. Senior administration officials say they are focused on diplomacy and economic pressure and have little interest in military options, though they won’t rule them out.

  • Trump is deeply frustrated that the Venezuelan opposition has failed to topple Maduro more than 3 months after a failed uprising, and more than 6 months after Trump led the world in recognizing Juan Guaidó as the legitimate leader of Venezuela.

Trump has had good reason to be frustrated, current and former officials said. For the first year and a bit of his presidency, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and chief of staff John Kelly collaborated to ignore or stymie what they judged to be dangerous requests from Trump. This included, in Mattis’ case, a request for military options to topple Maduro, according to sources with direct knowledge of Trump’s unfulfilled asks.

  • Trump would berate his former national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, asking him why he hadn’t produced the Venezuela military options he’d requested. But McMaster wasn’t the obstacle to producing the options for Venezuela; it was Mattis, according to sources with direct knowledge.
  • McMaster grew so exasperated with Mattis that around September 2017, he sent him a memo saying the president had requested new options for Venezuela.
  • In the classified memo, which has never been reported on until now, McMaster gave Mattis a deadline to present the military options, according to sources familiar with the memo’s contents. Mattis ignored the memo and blew past the deadline, these sources said.
  • This dynamic changed once John Bolton and Mike Pompeo took over.

The bottom line: Trump has no interest in committing U.S. ground troops to Venezuela, according to senior administration officials, but he has told them to keep piling pressure on Maduro and to look for creative ways to help Guaidó force Maduro out of power.

Source: Axios

  1. XRGRSF says

    The U$ cannot survive without a war, but the victim must attack first, and provide a casus belli. Russia, China, Venezuela, Iran, et al, are far to smart to give the U$ the war it wants. Ergo the U$ is screwed. Hard times are coming, and right soon.

  2. Undecider says

    As if the US government doesn’t need to put a blockade on its southern border.

  3. Vish says

    “Driving the news: Trump has been raising the idea of a naval blockade periodically for at least a year and a half, and as recently as several weeks ago, these officials said. They added that to their knowledge the Pentagon hasn’t taken this extreme idea seriously, in part because senior officials believe it’s impractical, has no legal basis and would suck resources from a Navy that is already stretched to counter China and Iran.”

    This Axios propaganda piece is standing reality on its head.

    China, Iran, Russia, and indeed Venezuela are *countering* the American Empire and its sociopathic attempts to control global energy resources–and ultimately the world–under its pretext of “promoting democracy.”

    The US Terrorist War Against Venezuela

    Corporate Media Enters Realm of the Absurd with Claim that Venezuela Is ‘Cocaine Capital of the World’

    Lust for Profits, Not Love of Democracy: The Real Reason Washington Wants Maduro Gone

  4. BillA says

    the US wants Venezuela’s oil, too bad Maduro is an economic idiot

    1. XRGRSF says

      Maduro has survived everything the U$ has thrown at him, and Venezuela is now part of the Chinese economic sphere. So why is Maduro an economic idiot?

      1. BillA says

        Hard to consider Maduro without also Chaves, who selected a bus driver as an obedient assistant; I have no issue with the need of the Venezuelan people to gain control of their government, nor the resistance of Maduro in every possible manner with the assistance of whomever against the US.

        I fault Maduro (and Chaves) for not moving full-tilt to make Venezuela not just food sufficient, but a food exporter. Look at China, they are experimenting with a whole slew of different ‘mechanisms’ to increase agricultural output.

        The cash cow, oil, has been mis-managed since Chaves wrested control from the local oligarchs, Maduro did not find a solution and now China is going to do the oilfield maintenance? No points for Maduro other than he found someone who wanted work – not a handout. (Do you think the Chinese will leave? Visit Central America before you answer, not so obvious.)

        For Maduro’s inability to find a way forward I call him an idiot.

        1. DarkEyes says

          I notice you must belong to Maduro’s innercircle. You got all the knowledge and vision of and for Venezuela.

          IMO, what US is doing (for Israel) is making just an extraordinary economical war against another country.
          AIPAC Government wants Venezuela’s oilrights, the people of Venezuela can keep the land.
          In short: it is that simple.

        2. XRGRSF says

          I agree with much of what you write, but you disregard the fact that the U$ has been waging economic war of Venezuela for more or less 20 years. It’s rather difficult to develop, and diversify an economy under the conditions that the U$ has imposed.

          The bottom line is that it’s Venezuela’s oil, Venezuela’s political system, and Maduro is the is the duly elected president of Venezuela. Whether Maduro is an idiot or just a man doing his best for his nation the fact is that he’s Venezuela’s president, and not an American stooge. He may end up as China’s stooge, but China has a much better track record than the U$.

    2. CHUCKMAN says

      Sorry, you are just wrong.

      This is not, and never has been, about oil.

      It is just part of a new CIA Latin American initiative to squelch independent-minded, highly-nationalistic governments.

      The Lima Group was formed as part of the operation.

      The United States likes Latin America as it was in, say, the 1950s, a set of plantation economies whose rulers are highly receptive to American views and policies.

      Maduro, who is very much not receptive, is one hell of an effective leader and a brave man.

      You don’t agree with the country’s socialism, so what?

      It is up to the Venezuelan people to work that out.

      The United States should mind its own business. They’ve been at this dirty work for more than five years, going back into Obama’s time.

      Its economic measures, attacking everything from the county’s markets to its currency, have immensely hurt the people, something CIA flacks then pitch as the harm of Maduro’s government.

      The people elected Maduro, twice, and he still is pretty popular despite the imposed hardship.

      The great irony of all of America’s interventions abroad is that it can’t even run its own country.

      There are millions of Americans in immense poverty. Many landscapes resemble the Third World. And infrastructure of every description – from drinking water equipment to school buildings and to roads and bridges – is in awful shape.

      1. BillA says

        see below Chuck; apart from ths US bs, Maduro is not leading anywhere (nor could he really under the present circumstances)

  5. John C Carleton says

    This is one of the historical snapshots stored in my head, not really important but interesting.

    War of 1812, an American Privateer, (USA sanctioned Pirates, allowed to prey on British Shipping), sailed up and down in front of a harbor in Canada, full of British war ships, bragging he was blockading Canada all by himself.

    When all the many British ships can out, surrounded him, the Captain seems to have blown his own ship up, with most of the sailors on board and killed in the blast.

    With the USA is trying to provide muscle for the Ratschilds in several different areas of the world at the moment, there simply are not enough ships, trained sailors, up to date functioning, and as advertised weapons systems, nor has the crumbling from inward out American structure/resources/people, nor the empty gold vaults at Fort Knox Nor the Not federal, No reserves and Not a bank vaults, hold enough treasure to finance another front on the zionist driven war on humanity.

  6. CHUCKMAN says

    It truly is difficult to understand what makes this genuinely bizarre man tick.

    Apart from the difficulties presented by Venezuela’s long and complex coastline, and apart from the fact Venezuela’s government has done nothing to deserve such treatment, blockades of course are acts of war.

    Only here we have the involvement of both Russia and China.

    So, between slurps of Big Macs and coffee, America’s new strategic genius is asking for a risky military venture in Venezuela, demanding the chance to buy Greenland, increasing the dangerous harassment of China on all fronts, carrying on with stupidities over Iranian tankers, making calls of encouragement to the bloodiest ruler in the Mideast over the increasing failings of his disastrous slaughter in Yemen, and making half the leaders in Europe sick at their stomachs with the United States.

    1. chris chuba says

      “apart from the fact Venezuela’s government has done nothing to deserve such treatment”

      Actually, this is a full stop for me 🙂 Trump is acting like Maduro blew up the WTC, oh wait, that was his best buddies the Saudies. The fact that Neocons can get all excited and belligerent about countries who have never harmed us just kills me. It shows how depraved they are.

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