U.S. hands off Syria, Venezuela!

Recent U.S. threats against Iran, Syria and, yes, Venezuela show that this time of capitalist economic crisis brings with it the danger of new imperialist wars and interventions.

In late May — in news that got more publicity in the Israeli media than in the U.S. — the U.S. Senate unanimously approved a resolution backing up Israel if it launches an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities. The Senate, in other words, told the Obama administration it was not being aggressive enough.

While President Barack Obama and his team have aimed to protect and expand U.S. imperialist interests using economics, diplomacy and military threats, some in the U.S. ruling class apparently want more muscle. Sen. John McCain, for example, made a surprise visit May 27 to the “Free Syrian Army” to underline what his faction sees as the need to send even more arms to kill Syrians. Some European imperialists agree, and the European Union has now removed its official embargo on weapons to the opposition against Bashir al-Assad’s government.

We put the “Free Syrian Army” in quotes as there is nothing “free” about this collection of pro-imperialist reaction­aries. They represent foreign imperialist interests more than Syrian ones, and rather than an army, they are a collection of terrorist gangs with conflicting interests.

The Obama faction may be trying — using their own evaluation of how to advance U.S. imperialism — to avoid another draining war in West Asia. Whether that is true or not, however, it is using Washington’s economic, diplomatic and the potential of its military power to remove the rightfully elected Bolivarian government of Venezuela.

In that country, U.S. strategy, now that the unifying and charismatic Hugo Chávez has died, is to wear away support for the progressive government led by newly elected President Nicolás Maduro. At this point the Venezuelan oligarchs and their political representatives — especially presidential loser Henrique Capriles Radonski — are following the U.S. lead.

Just after the election — which Capriles and the U.S. have refused to recognize, even after recounts and international verification — Capriles’ fascist forces rioted and murdered 11 people. This move failed. Capriles’ Movement of Democratic Unity (MUD) also failed to rally the Organization of American States to attack Maduro. And the more independent Latin American regional organizations backed the legitimate Venezuelan government.

Capriles, with complete U.S. backing, developed an economic offensive to erode support for the government.This was done successfully and brutally against the 1970s Salvador Allende government in Chile. In Venezuela now, supermarket chains belonging to opposition millionaires are artificially causing shortages in everything from food to toilet paper. The media, owned by the viciously anti-Bolivarian and anti-poor millionaires, spread rumors and speculation to help keep the country in a climate of permanent tension.

Just as the progressive and anti-war movement here in the center of world imperialism must demand “Hands off Syria” and “No attack on Iran,” so must we rally to strengthen solidarity with Bolivarian Venezuela under serious attack from imperialism and its local oligarchy.