Research

Hybrid war: dossier looks into the impacts of US attack on Venezuela

Alternative to traditional conflicts, method aims to destabilize governments through economic pressures

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Paper points out prevalence of hybrid wars in oil-rich territories, such as Venezuela / Juan Barreto/AFP

The Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research published on Tuesday the dossier Venezuela and Hybrid Wars in Latin America, which shows how techniques to destabilize the Latin American country and spark regime change were put in place by the United States.

The concept of hybrid wars was originally proposed by the Russian journalist Andrew Korybko. In his book Hybrid Wars, the author looked into strategies employed by the United States to influence the ousting, in 2014, of the Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych.

The tactic includes toppling a government not by using conventional methods – like a warfare –, but imposing sanctions and stopping money supplies and goods from entering a country, generating social discontent and regime change.

According to the dossier, attacks of this kind are used as an alternative to direct military interventions, which always spark more backlash and are frowned upon by the international community.

In the case of hybrid wars, on the other hand, “favourable conditions need to be created,” the dossier reads, “especially a scenario that seems to suggest few other alternatives than military intervention.” The report shows “the economic embargo […] is necessary, but so too are the psychological and communications wars. If world opinion is shaped to see the government as a criminal entity, then war becomes acceptable – perhaps even necessary.” And that is achieved by developing “a narrative of Venezuela that favours the Venezuelan right-wing and imperialist interests.”

Venezuela

The dossier points out the prevalence of hybrid wars in oil-rich territories, such as Venezuela. The country has been facing, since 2015, increasing pressure from the US, which aims to topple Nicolás Maduro.

The dossier demonstrates that the US attempt to intervene in the Latin American nation happens because its hegemony is challenged by “emerging powers” such as China and Russia.

“The United States considers Latin America to be its ‘natural zone of influence’ and even its ‘backyard,’” the report says. A region that is rich in natural resources, the research recalls that there are minerals in the region that are key to the United States and to US-based corporations.

In the case of Venezuela, the dossier underscore the numerous US sanctions that were imposed during both the Barack Obama and the Donald Trump administrations. The measures directly impact Venezuelan oil exports and keep Venezuelan funds in foreign banks from the country.

A report by the Latin American Strategic Geopolitics Center (CELAG) published in February 2019 showed that the blockade mainly affected the Venezuelan people.

One of the findings of the CELAG study is that the sanctions caused the loss of more than 3 million jobs in the country in 2017 over 2013, or 24 percent of the total economically active population. The country is also struggling as the acquisition or delivery of medications for dialysis, vaccines, inputs for malaria and diabetes treatments, and food are being blocked or delayed, even though they had been paid for by the Venezuelan government.

The dossier by the Tricontinental Institute also showed that measures like those aim to “exploit historical, ethnic, religious, socio-economic, and geographic differences” of governments deemed hostile, while also supporting opposition forces.

“Humanitarian aid” and social media

Another way to destabilize the Maduro administration took place in February 2019, when the United States tried to breach Venezuela’s borders under the pretext of delivering humanitarian aid.

The dossier notes that the massive operations of “humanitarian aid” offered by the US and the European Union come “with a halo of legitimacy that is difficult – and yet necessary – to dismantle. This ‘aid’ project is the most sophisticated and effective form of imperialist penetration into the Global South.”

The document also underscores the role of social media to convey partially or completely incorrect information to destabilize governments.

It is not enough for the hegemonic power to exert economic, commercial, diplomatic, and military dominance, the report argues, but also “shape one’s subjectivity and organization of everyday life, then subordination is near complete.”

Edition: Aline Carrijo | Translated by Aline Scátola