Guardian Watch, latest, Venezuela

Venezuela: Guardian sparing neocon blushes

Kit Knightly

This website started as a way to air opinions that The Guardian would not allow in their comments section. Over time it evolved into fact-checking. Rarely has it been so simple. This is The Guardian’s latest story on the unfolding crisis in Venezuela, it is headlined:

Venezuela: Maduro accuses US of trying to ‘get hands on our oil’

That headline is technically true. Nicolas Maduro – the beseiged Venezuelan President and the MSM’s current “monster of the week” – did accuse the USA of wanting to control Venezuela’s vast crude oil deposits. He cited Iraq and Libya as recent examples of similar behaviour.

What The Guardian did NOT mention is that John Bolton, Donald Trump’s neocon National Security Advisor, admitted that Maduro was right. He told Fox Business that Venezuela’s oil was a big motivation for Trump’s admin:

We’re in conversation with major american companies now…I think we’re trying to get to the same end result here…it will make a BIG difference to the American economy if we could have American oil companies invest in, and produce, Venezuela’s oil capabilities.”

There you have it – straight from the Walrus’ mouth. The US is interested in Venezuela’s oil. He also refered to it as a “big business opportunity”. (Here is a second link to it, just in case Fox News decided to take the (embarrassing) admission off their website.)

This fact clashes with the false narrative The Guardian, and their co-conspirators in the media, are trying to push on their public. The state-sponsored narrative is that Maduro is lying or crazy. A paranoid dictator desperately clinging to power, and spinning fairy tales to defend himself.

John Bolton’s admission smashes that lie to pieces. So, of course, it is not mentioned.

The Guardian’s Latin America correspondent, Tom Phillips, an inveterate liar-by-omission, could easily have included this information. He chose not to, if paid propagandists can ever be said to have a choice in what they print.

Kit Knightly is co-editor of OffGuardian. The Guardian banned him from commenting. Twice. He used to write for fun, but now he's forced to out of a near-permanent sense of outrage.


  1. Jay-Q says

    The Guardian are back at it again, telling their readers what to think about Venezuela and Billionaire Branson’s Coup Concert. “What a beautiful humanitarian gesture by our very own tax-dodging billionaire!”

    Funny how the Guardian drops all journalistic integrity and moral decency as soon as billionaires walk into the room, promoting regime change. Hmmm, I wonder why?

    Top of their homepage is now adorned with a slideshow of pictures of wealthy Colombians and Venezuelans who are thrilled to be attending a free concert. Meanwhile, all indices reveal that there are more than enough problems inside Colombia to absorb ten times the amount of ‘aid’ aimed for Venezuela. Bare faced hypocrites the lot of them.

    • Jay-Q says

      The Guardian will not let its readers comment on the Venezuela ‘story’. They are more interested in choreographing the narrative and instructing its readers how to think. If readers disagree, so what, we’ll never know – that’s the stance they take.

      They don’t see the irony of showing a photo of a man in a Lacoste t-shirt shouting at a poor soldier! Or maybe they do.

      At least the Daily Mail, even if you hate it, have their comments section open. At least some people over there speak sense.

      Again, the Yellow Vests (Gilets Jaunes) are in their 15th week of protests and not a word in the G.

      I know I am preaching to the choir here but, man, it pi$$e$ me off to see the two-faced Guardian being so openly dishonest about US regime change.

    • Francis Lee says

      ”When truth is met by silence, silence is a lie.” Yevgeny Yevtushenko

  2. USAma Bin Laden says

    The Guardian: Mouthpiece for the liberal wing of British imperialism.

    Of course, the USA wants to gain control of Venezuelan oil–note control does not mean merely accessto but more importantly control over the currency that this oil is sold in so as to maintain the American Empire’s Holiest of Holies: the American PetroDollar.

    But then again, the Guardian would also have you believe that America and its (snicker) Free World allies are really fighting a War on Terrorism–even though they have been arming and sponsoring jihadist terrorism like the Libyan Islamic Fight Group (against Libya) and similar groups like Al-Nusra Front (the Al-Queda affiliate in Syria) for years.

    So it’s not surprising that the Guardian would regurgitate American and Western regime war propaganda.

    • Gezzah Potts says

      USAma Bin Laden: and that’s exactly what the Guardian is for: disseminators of pro war, pro imperialist, pro humanitarian intervention…. To save the targeted countries from themselves. And install an Empire friendly puppet who will bend over for his/her master’s. Sheer coincidence that nearly every country that needs ‘saved’ also has large amounts of oil and gas.

  3. vexarb says

    Analyst Canthama agrees with Pepe (BTL SyrPer #286513):

    The Saker has a nice article on Venezuela, few days old, but quite balanced on his analysis, people could disagree with one or two things but in general quite to the point on all fronts.

    Though Colombia and Brazil border Venezuela on its West and South, any sort of military invasion from those directions will first have to conquer nature.

    So there are only two ways to remove Maduro:

    1) US cruise missiles hitting hundreds of spots in Venezuela would be completely unacceptable for any Latina America population, a violence that would cause the US to lose support even its most vassal States.
    In parallel, such violence would spark the return of the Colombian guerrilla, blowback will be very bad and wide spread. Thus military intervention is not likely.

    2) The second option is assassination of Maduro, and this is where some of Venezuela’s allies are trying to help, either with security guards, intel and direct protection.

    As in Syria, time is an ally for Venezuela, the Venezuela Government will become stronger and diplomacy will take shape, There is a real danger though for a false flag, and this is in fact what Bolton and Pompeo are preparing with Guaidó’s supporters knowledge [as in Syria].
    Time is also important since the US regime and its dying fiat economy, 2019 will be a tough year for the G7, meaning theses regimes will either have to create another massive QE that will bring them down or start a big war, which the vast majority of their country citizens will never support, see France with yellow vest, many more countries would see the same — even the US.

    So, time is good friend to the Venezuela, they must push it as long as they can, and things will be all right.

    • JohnG says

      What is a “fiat economy”?

      QE doesn’t actually do much other than suppress long term interest rates. What on Earth are you on about?

    • DunGroanin says

      Tom Phillips in Caracas.

      The banality of the Obssesive Grauniad reaches new depths.

      Reporting mass protests that haven’t yet happened!

      Fake ‘news’ and they don’t care who knows. Blatant and bare faced pretenders.

  4. Narrative says

    Nations should explore better system to break US hegemony

    “The US dollar is used for the international oil and gas trade and a wide part of global trade. This gives the US an exorbitant privilege to sanction countries it opposes.
    The latest sanctions on Venezuela’s state-owned oil company aim to cut off source of foreign currency of Venezuelan strongman Nicolas Maduro’s government and eventually force him to step down.
    A new mechanism should be devised to thwart such a vicious circle”

  5. vexarb says

    Refusal to hand over Venezuelan gold means end of Britain as a financial center – Prof. Wolff

    “That is a signal to every country that has or may have difficulties with the US, [that they had] better get their money out of England and out of London because it’s not the safe place as it once was,” he said.

    “One of the few things left for Britain is to be the financial center that London has been for so long. And one of the ways you stay a financial center is if you don’t play games with other people’s money,” he said.

  6. crank says

    Francis Lee; Big B,

    OK I phrased that badly.
    My question is really about those at the top of the power pyramid (those few hundred families who own the controling share of the wealth of the world) – those who position idiots like Bolton to do their work, do they comprehend ‘exergy’ decline ?
    If we can, then can they not? I agree with Parenti that they are not ‘somnambulists’. They are strategists looking out for their own interests, and that means scrutinising trends in political movements, culture, technology and, well, just about everything. I find it hard, the idea that all these people- people who have seen their businesses shaped by resource discovery, exploitation and then depletion, have no firm grasp on the realities of dwindling returns on energy. The models were drawn up 47 years ago. I think that some of them at least, do understand that economic growth is coming to a halt, and have understood for decades. If true then they are planning that transition in their favour.

    These hard to swallow facts about oil are still on the far fringes of any political conversation. The neoliberal cultists are deaf to them for obvious reasons; the socialist idealists believe that a ‘New Deal’ can lead us off the death train, but mostly ignore the intractable relationship between energy decline and financial problems; even the anarchists want their work free utopia run by robots and AI but stop short of asking whether solar panels and wind turbines can actually provide the power for all that tech. It’s the news that nobody wants to think about, but which they will be forced to thinking about in the very near future.

    The Twitter feed ‘Limits to Growth’ has less than 800 followers (excellent though it is).

    • BigB says


      I do not want to get into the mind of the Walrus of Death Bolton! I do not want to know what he does, as he does. But at lower levels of government, and corporatism, there is an awareness of surplus energy economics. And as Nafeez has also pointed out, the military (the Pentagon) are taking an interest. And though it could rapidly change, who really appreciates the nuances of EROEI? I’m guessing at less than a single percent of all populations? And how many include its effects in a integrated political sense?

      Its appreciation is sporadic: ranging from tech-utopia hopium to a defeated fatalism of the inevitability of collapse. Unless and until people want to face the harshness of the reality that capitalism has created: we are going to be involved in a marginal analysis. There are very few people who have realised that capitalism is long dead. Dr Tim Morgan estimates that world capitalism has conservatively had $140tn in stimulus since 2008 – without stimulating anything or reviving it at all. In fact, that amounts to the greatest robbery in history – the theft of the future. Inasmuch as they can, those unrepayable debts – transferred to inflate the parasitic assets of capitalists – will be socialised. Except they cannot be. Not without surplus energy.

      Brexit, gilets jaunes, Venezuela, unending crises in MENA, China’s economic slowdown, etc – all linked by EROEI. It is a common socio-politico-economic energy nexus – but linked together by whom? And the emergent surplus energy-mind-environmental ecology nexus? All the information is available. The formation of a new political manifesto started in the 1960s with the New Left …but it seems to have been in stasis since. Perhaps this might stimulate the conversation. According to Nate Hagens: there is 4.5 years of human muscle power leveraged by each barrel of oil. We are all going to be working for a very long time to pay back the debts the possessing classes have built up for us – with absolutely no marginal utility for ourselves. We are subsidising our own voluntary slavery unless we develop an emergent ecosocialist and ecosophical alternative to carbon capitalism. We cannot expect paleoconservative carbon relics like Bolton – or anyone else – to do it for us. The current political landscape is dominated by a hierarchical, vested interest, carbon aristocracy. We can’t expect that to change for our benefit any time ever. Expect the opposite.

      • crank says

        Listening to David Graeber in this interview there is no mention of declining energy surpluses in the discussion of the economic paradigm of the coming future. No consideration of the role of the labour of fossil fuels in the economy of the past two centuries. It’s amazing, the argument seems not to have reached them, such that it is doesn’t even get a look in. (Listen from 40 min mark, and you will hear a completely opposite view of what is to come – ” We are not going to have the problem of how to deploy scarce resources, given an only moderate level of productivity…”).

        Fittingly, there is a fascinating section (52.min 30 sec onwards) exploring Graeber’s new book project about how much of the enlightenment thinking of pre-revolutionary France was either a pilfering of, or a reaction to, the ideas of social organisation coming from pre-European Americans.

        • BigB says

          Graeber has a point, though. We could already have a post-scarcity, post-production society …but for the egregious maldistribution of resources and employment. Andre Gorz said as much 50 years ago (Critique of Economic Reason). Why do we organise around production: it makes no sense …but for the relations of production are, and remain, the relations of hierarchical rule. So long as we assign value to a human life on the basis of meritocratic productivity – we will have dehumanisation, marginalisation, and subjugation (haves and have nots). So why not organisation around care, freedom and play?

          Such a solution would require the transversalistion of society and not-full-employment: so that no part of the system is subordinate, and no part is privileged. All systems and sub-ordinate (care) systems would be co-equal, of corresponding value and worth. So, without invoking EROEI, that would go a long way to solve our exergy, waste, pollution, and inequality problems. It is the profligate, unproductive superstructure: supporting rentier, surplus energy accumulating, profit-seeking suprasocieties – that squanders our excess energy and puts expansive spatio-temporal pressures on already stretched biophysical ecological systems that engenders potential collapse. It is their – the possessing classes – assets that are being inflated, at our environmental expense. When it comes to survivability, we cannot afford a parasitic globalised superstructure draining the host – the ecologically productive base. Without the over-accumulation, overconsumption, and wastage (the accursed share) associated with the superstructure of the advanced economies – and their cultural, credit, military imperialisms …I expect we could live quite well. Without the pressures of globalised transportation networks, and unnecessary military budgets – the pressure on oil is minimised. It could be used for the 1001 other uses it has, rather than fuelling Saudi Eurofighters bombing Yemeni schoolchildren, for instance. The surplus energy could be used to educate, clothe and feed them instead. That would be a better use of resources, for sure.

          If we took stock of what we really have, and what we really are – a form of spiritual neo-self-sufficiency, augmented and extended into co-mutual care and freedom valorising ecologies …we wouldn’t need to chase the perceived loss all over the globe, killing everything that moves. The solutions are not hard, they are normative, once we are shocked out of this awful near-life trance state of separationism. Thanks for the link.

          • crank says

            It seems to me that there are two parallel arguments going on.
            One is about social organisation, attitudes towards and policies determining work, money, paid employment, technological development and the distribution of weath.
            The other is fundamentally based on the laws of thermodynamics and concerns resource limits, energy surpluses, the role of ‘stored sunlight’ in producing things and doing work for each other, pollution and projections about these into the future.

            I am surprised that Graeber (just as an example) seems to basically ignore the second of these even though he clearly is an incisive thinker and makes good points about the first. It is taken as a given that, theoretically at least, human civilisation could re-organise around a new ethic, transform the economy into a ‘caring economy’, re-structure money, government and do away with militarism. In terms of what to do now, as an individual, what choices to make, it is disconcerting to me when talk of these ideals seems to ignore those latter questions about overshoot.

            I wonder if the egalitarian nature of much of indiginous North American society was inescapably bound with the realities of a low population density, low technology, intimate relationship with the natural world and a culture completely steeped in reverence for Mother Earth.
            The talk I hear from Bastani or Graeber along the lines of ‘we could be flying around in jet packs on the moon, if only society was organised sensibly’ rings hollow to me.

            • BigB says


              Welcome to my world! Apart from as a managerial tool, systems thinking has yet to catch on in the wider population. According to reductive materialism: there are two unlinked arguments. According to Dynamic Systems Theory (DST) there is only one integrated argument – with two inter-connected correlative aspects. We can only organise around what we can energetically afford. Consequently, we cannot organise around what we cannot afford – that is, global industrialised production with a supervenient elitist superstructure.

              Let’s face it : ethical arguments carry little weight against organisation around hierarchical rule. The current talk of an ethical capitalism – in mixed economies with ‘commons’ elements – is an appeasement. and distractional to the gathering and ineluctable reality.

              The current (2012) EROI for the UK is 6.2:1 – barely above the ‘energy cliff’ of 5:1. The GDP ‘growth’ and bullshit jobs are funded by monetised debt (we borrow around £5 to make every £1 – from Tim Morgan’s SEEDS). From the Earth Overshoot Day website: the UK is in economic overshoot from May 8th onward.

              These are indicators that we will not be “flying jetpacks on the moon”: even if we reorganise. Everyone, and I mean everyone, will have to make do with less. A lot less. Everything would have to be localised and sustainable. Production would be minimised, and not at all full. Two major systems of production – food (agroecology) and energy – would have to be sustainable and self-sovereign. And financialisation and the rentier, service economy? Now you can see why no one, not even Dave the crypto-anarchist, is talking about reality. Elitism, establishment and entitlement do not figure in an equitable future. We can’t afford it, energetically or ethically.

              So when will the debate move on? Not any time the populace is bought into ideational deferred prosperity. All the time that EROEI is ignored as the fundamental concept governing dwindling prosperity – no one, and I mean no one, will be talking about a minimal surplus energy future. The magic realism is that the economic affordances of cheap oil (unsustainably mimicked by debt-funding) will return …sometime, somehow (the technocratic superfix). The aporia is that the longer the delay, the less surplus energy we will have available to utilise. Something like the Green New Deal – that has been proposed for around two decades now – may give us some quality of life to sustain. Pseudo-talk of a Customs Union, ‘clean’ coal, and nuclear power, will not.

              An integrated reality – along the model of Guattari’s ‘Three Ecologies’ – of mind, economy, and environment is …well, we are not alone, but we are ahead of the curve. The other cultural aporia is that we need to implement such vision now. Actually, about thirty years ago …but let’s not get depressive!

              We are going to need that cooperative organisation around care and freedom just to get through the coming century.

    • Francis Lee says

      I think you’ll find both Dmitry Orlov and Chris Martenson have some interesting views on this.

  7. DunGroanin says

    The Graun seems to have been anti-Chavez from the get go. With a set of ‘journalists’ who seem to jave made it their lifes work to reverse that democratic revolution. It is not easy to find their biogs.

  8. Johan Meyer says

    This whole business of “recognizing a president” not yet in power has a precedent: Rwanda.

    When the bUgandan army invaded Rwanda (with US, Canadian, British and Belgian backing) in 1990 (1 October), or in propaganda terms, the RPA started its “liberation,” the US moved its embassy to Mulindi, and sent the bUgandan chief of intelligence from his IMET junket at Fort Leavenworth, to take over in northern Rwanda. I refer to Paul Kagame.

    International institutions also started to deal with Mulindi, rather than Kigali. Accusations of genocide within a year…

  9. crank says

    As mentioned elsewhere here, Venezualan oil deposits are not all that the hype cracks them up to be. They are mostly oil sands that produce little in the way of net energy gain after the lengthy process of extraction.The Venezuala drama is about the empire crushing democracy (i.e. socialism), not oil. [not that this detracts from Kit’s essential point in the article].
    The Left (as well as the Right), by and large have not come to terms with the realities of the decline in net surplus energy that is unfolding around the world and driving the political changes that we see. So they still view geopolitics in terms of the oil economy of pre-2008.
    The productive economies of Europe are falling apart (check Steve Keen’s latest on Max and Stacy – although even ihe doesn’t delve into the energy decline aspect).
    The carbon density of the global economy has not changed in the 27 years since the founding of the UNFCCC.

    The Peak Oil phenomenon was oversimplified, misrepresented and misunderstood as a simple turning point in overall oil production. In truth it was a turning point in energy surplus.
    I predict that by the end of this or next year, everyone will be talking about ERoEI. Everyone will realise that there is no way out of this predicament. Maybe there are ways to lessen the catastrophe, but no way to avert it. This will change the conversation, and even change what ‘politics’ means (i.e. you cannot campaign on a ‘new start’ or a ‘better, brighter future’ if everyone knows that that physically cannot happen).
    Everyone will understand that their civilisation is collapsing.
    Does Bolton understand this?

    I dunno.

    • Francis Lee says

      ”Does Bolton Understand this/? I think this might qualify as a rhetorical question.

    • BigB says


      If you were referring to my earlier comments about Venezuelan extra heavy crude: it’s still massively about the oil. The current carbon capitalist world system does not understand surplus energy or EROEI, as it is so fixated on maximal short term returns for shareholders. It can’t comprehend that their entire business model is unsustainable and self cannibalising. Which is bad for us: because carbon net-energy (exergy) economics it is foundational to all civilisation. The ignorance of it and subsequent environmental and social convergence crises threatens the systemic failure of our entire civilisation. The Venezuelan crisis affects us all: and is symptomatic of a decline in cheap oil due to rapidly falling EROEI.

      I can’t find the EROEI specifically for Venezuelan heavy oil: but it is only slightly more viscous than bitumen – which has an EROEI of 3:1. Let’s call it 4:1: the same as other tight oils and shale. Anything less than 5:1 is more or less an energy sink: with virtually no net energy left for society. The minimum EROEI for societal needs is 11:1. Does Bolton understand this? Francis hit the nail on the head there.

      Do any of our leaders? No. If they did, a transition to decentralisation would be well under way. Globalised supply chains are systemically threatened and fragile. A globalised economy is spectacularly vulnerable. Especially a debt-ridden one. Which way are our leaders trying to take us? At what point will humanity realise we are following clueless Pied Pipers off the Seneca Cliff – into globalised energy oblivion?

      The rapid investment – not in a post-carbon transition – but in increased militarisation, and resource and market driven aggressive foreign intervention policies reveal the mindset of insanity. As people come to understand the energy basis of the world crisis: the fact of permanent austerity and increased pauperisation looms large. What will the outcome be when an armed nuclear madhouse becomes increasingly protectionsist of their dwindling share? Too alarmist, perhaps? Let’s play pretend that we can plant a few trees and captive breed a few rhinos …and it will all be fine. BAU?

      The world runs on cheap oil: our socio-politico-economic expectations of progress depend on it. Which means that the modern human mind is, in effect, a thought-process predicated on cheap oil. Oleum ergo sum? Apart from the Middle East: we are already past the point where oil is a liability, not a viability. Debt funding its extraction, selling below the cost of production – both assume the continual expansion of global GDP. Oil is a highly subsidised – with our surplus socialisation capital – negative asset. We foot the bill. A bill that EROEI predicts will keep on rising. At what point do we realise this? Or do we live in hopium of a return to historical prosperity? Or hang on the every word of the populist magic realism demagogue who promises a future social utopia?

      If it’s based on cheap oil, it ain’t happenin’.

      • Is it no longer considered a courtesy to the reader to spell out, and who knows maybe even explain, the abbreviations one uses?

        • Jen says

          EROEI = Energy Returned on Energy Invested (also known as EROI = Energy Return on Investment)

          EROEI refers to the amount of usable energy that can be extracted from a resource compared to the amount of energy (usually considered to come from the same resource) used to extract it. It’s calculated by dividing the amount of energy obtained from a source by the amount of energy needed to get it out.

          An EROEI of 1:1 means that the amount of usable energy that a resource generates is the same as the amount of energy that went into getting it out. A resource with an EROEI of 1:1 or anything less isn’t considered a viable resource if it delivers the same or less energy than what was invested in it. A viable resource is one with an EROEI of at least 3:1.

          The concept of EROEI assumes that the energy needed to get more energy out of a resource is the same as the extracted energy ie you need oil to extract oil or you need electricity to extract electricity. In real life, you often need another source of energy to extract energy eg in some countries, to extract electricity, you need to burn coal, and in other countries, to extract electricity you need to build dams on rivers. So comparing the EROEI of electricity extraction across different countries will be difficult because you have to consider how and where they’re generating electricity and factor in the opportunity costs involved (that is, what the coal or the water or other energy source – like solar or wind energy – could have been used for instead of electricity generation).

          That is probably why EROEI is used mainly in the context of oil or natural gas extraction.

        • BigB says

          wildtalents: Yes, I normally do. But the thread started from, and includes Crank’s link that explains it.

    • Thomas Peterson says

      That’s true, Venezuela’s ‘oil’ is mostly not oil.

  10. Glasshopper says

    Loathsome though he is, Bolton is probably the only honest neocon around. In Iraq, while the likes of Blair were banging on about 45 minutes, human rights and democracy etc, Bolton always made it clear that is was simply a matter of US interests. AKA Oil. He has never pretended to represent anything but rapacious US self interest.

    Fair play. At least you know what you’re getting with that tash.

  11. Stonky says

    Prior to being assigned to Latin America, Phillips was the Guardian’s China correspondent for five years or so. His task, which he diligently accomplished, was to produce a couple of articles a week on “Why China Is No Good”. I don’t think he ever once found anything positive to say about the place.

    As an individual he’s a complete Jodrell, but there are few to compare with him in his ability to relentlessly toe the Washington neocon line. You couldn’t get a fag paper in between him and Luke Harding. I wonder if he’s paid for it, or whether it’s just that seductive sense of ‘belonging’ that comes from rubbing shoulders with really powerful people.

    • Antonym says

      And therefore some bloggers reverse and think only X i- good, Xi – good. That’s what they thought about Stalin or Mao too at first…

  12. Tim Jenkins says

    Principally, the principles , better said the absence of statute & principle in Law, behind mass surveillance, was what Snowden was desperate to highlight and that the public’s principal concern of the Guardian’s hard drives, were the least of our problems, legally speaking , coz’ other copies existed already elsewhere, anyway 😉

    OFFG could always ask Glen Greenwald to explain why he ceased to ‘copulate’ with the Guardian and maybe even ‘intercept’ an opinion or two from Snowden, whilst he’s at it 🙂 intercepting. Indeed , a few extra nails in the Guardian’s coffin , could be delivered quite speedily & succinctly , with some professional journalistic exchange of Question & Answer, with nail-gun loaded & mutual benefit would seem to be an all round obvious win-win debate on matters of principle, legal permissions & submissions.

    • Tim Jenkins says

      sorry , that comment was directed @lundiel , so please scroll to the end for context.

  13. Andy says

    In some ways it is refreshing to have these power hungry narcissists in charge of the US as they cannot seem to not blurt out their naked ambitions, which in this example ftom the ft basically shows kidnap is an agreeable part of trade negotiation.

    ‘Five days after a top executive of Huawei, the Chinese telecoms group, was arrested on a US request in Canada, President Donald Trump said he was willing to intervene — if it helped secure “the largest trade deal ever made”. The detention of Meng Wanzhou, one of China’s best known executives, was undoubtedly an incendiary step, escalating trade tensions with Beijing. But presidential interference in the case would send entirely the wrong message about the US justice system — and about how the administration conducts international affairs.

    The US and western allies have legitimate concerns about China’s reputation for digital espionage and theft of intellectual property. They agree a more robust stance is needed towards Beijing. But arresting a star of Chinese business — Ms Meng has been called China’s Sheryl Sandberg — on a Canadian stopover en route to Mexico from Hong Kong is not the way to persuade Beijing to change its behaviour.

    Even if the Huawei chief financial officer was held on unrelated charges of violating US sanctions on Iran, the move smacks of using individuals as pawns in negotiations. It is seen in Beijing as Washington rewriting the rules of engagement. Such waywardness and unpredictability from a country that used to portray itself as a pillar of the international rules-based order will tempt China to respond in kind, leading to a downward spiral of tit-for-tat behaviour. Indeed, the detention of a former Canadian diplomat, Michael Kovrig, in Beijing looks worryingly like retaliation.

    It may be necessary to take at face value Mr Trump’s claims that he was unaware of the US extradition application, and of the detention itself — which occurred on the day he was holding talks on a trade truce with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Buenos Aires. Had he known, even Mr Trump seems unlikely to have been cynical enough not to mention the arrest to Mr Xi. Presidential ignorance, however, offers little reassurance.

    That Mr Trump would not be notified of such a sensitive case by his justice department strengthens the impression of a dysfunctional administration, whose different arms pursue their agendas with little co-ordination, if not in open competition. It strains credibility that his recent presidential predecessors would have been left in the dark in similar situations. The Huawei incident comes in the same week that John Kelly’s departure as chief of staff seemed to confirm the extent to which the Trump White House defies conventional management.

    The president’s offer to do “whatever’s good for this country” regarding Ms Meng’s case reflects a dealmaker’s desire to put his talks with Mr Xi back on track, while extracting whatever advantage he can. But it amounts, in effect, to saying he is holding the Huawei CFO hostage as a trade negotiating chip. The situation carries echoes of the White House’s reversal in July of a seven-year executive ban on ZTE, the Chinese telecoms equipment maker, on purchasing critical equipment from the US, in what appeared a tactical concession to Beijing.

    Presidential interference in Ms Meng’s case would send a worse signal: that rule of law in the US is a function of the whim of the chief executive, or that illegal behaviour can be up for negotiation. It risks creating an impression that there is little difference between America’s judicial system and that of, say, Turkey — or indeed China. The Huawei executive’s detention was damaging. It is, however, not for the White House, but for independent courts in Canada and — if Ms Meng is extradited — the US to determine what happens next.’

    • It all depends on your acceptance of “legality” of American sanctions on Iran. I don’t, therefore American action against Ms Meng imo is political and nothing to do with the rule of law. Mr Trump’s opinions are irrelevant.

      • Jen says

        President Trump’s comments and opinions as expressed on Twitter will become relevant in Sabrina Meng’s court case. Her legal defence could use Trump’s opinions as evidence that her arrest was politically motivated and therefore she should not be extradited.

        Canadian PM Justin Bieber Trudeau sacked the Ambassador to China for saying this and expressing other opinions, among them Canada’s view as to whether the current (and new) US sanctions on Iran are binding on Canada.

  14. harry stotle says

    Just to add I see the US are sending their finest war criminals to ‘help’ Venezuela.

    Elliot Abrams really is a piece of work – perhaps not everybody realises quite how bad this guy is.

    Absolutely shocking allegations here.

  15. Kathy says

    The hypocrisy of the MSM in all this is yet again. So blatant it is sickening. At the same time as Yemen is being battered by bombs with the Wests names on them. Deliberately starved to death. With Western MSM indifference. Not to even mention. All the other countries Western powers have illegally devastated. The hand ringing over the plight of the Venezuelan people under Maduro is suddenly more then they can all bare. Western sanctioning and deliberate sabotage by the West against the country. Undermining any chance of peace. Don’t get a peep of a mention by the MSM.
    Here we go again. Roll up roll up. This is the latest hypocritical propaganda media show. Maduro is evil we must save his country from this evil. Saintly peace bringing Western alliance must save Venezuela. All that’s needed is a more pliant Western puppet or chaos and civil war. Oil Opps sorry shh don’t mention the oil. Does any one really buy into this deranged demented narrative any more. For gods sake how many more times do we have to say. NO NOT IN MY NAME.

    • wardropper says

      The likes of Bolton haven’t seen any reason to conceal their wicked agenda for some time. They are so sure that their god has made them untouchable.

    • mark says

      $13 billion in Venezuelan assets have been stolen by Uncle Sam and his satraps over the past few days. Why oh why oh why do countries and foreign individuals persist in keeping their assets in the US/ UK??????. Billions were stolen from Libya in a few days in 2011. Where it all went is one of life’s big mysteries. Cameron even stole a boat load of Libyan currency that had been printed in the UK.

    • Francis Lee says

      Yes, guilt by omission, the preferred mendacity of the MSM. ‘When truth is met by silence, silence is a lie.’ Yevgeny Yevtushenko.

    • mark says

      A Parliamentary Committee has been set up to agitate for sanctions against China on behalf of the “poor oppressed Uighurs” in China. Shedding buckets of tears over the lack of “yuman rights.” While supplying British sniper rifles to the Zionists to gun down Palestinian kids with dum dum bullets and planes, cluster bombs and RAF advisors to slaughter kids in Yemen.

  16. harry stotle says

    Trump imposed broader economic sanctions on Venezuela because;
    *serious human rights abuses (by Maduro),
    *antidemocratic actions, and,
    *responsibility for the deepening humanitarian crisis.

    So definitely nothing to do with the oil, or international relations between Venezuela and other powers that neocons are at war with (wars being conducted in the media, financial markets and on the ground) while the phony who preceeded Trump (Obama) claimed Venezeula posed an “unusual and extraordinary threat” to US national security (which is a bit like Tyson Fury saying he is frightened by a 90 year old woman who is blind and only has one leg).

    Isn’t there just one soul at the Guardian who will stand up for what is really happening here (as in all other parts of the world where the US has harmed so many people because of its insatiable pursuit of oil and power) – just one?

    I must admit I am not getting my hopes up – while the Guardian excels at drawing attention to Maduros failings they seem to be deaf, dumb and blind to the geopolitical context in which Venezuela is doing its utmost to escape the tentacles of US-backed neocons in their endless quest for violent regime change.

    • Maggie says

      Here is a most excellent expose by Jimmy Dore:

      Article 7 of the Rome Statute says US sanctions are illegal because they were not sanctioned by the UN.

      Oh, I know why.. because they are toothless windbags.

      Time to sanction the US,,,, NOW!!!

      • harry stotle says

        Jimmy is an exception.

        In general those in the know loath the MSM because of the role they play in backing the gangsters.

        “Our own fate as Latin American writers is linked to the need for profound social transformations. To narrate is to give oneself: it seems obvious that literature, as an effort to communicate fully, will continue to be blocked so long as misery and illiteracy exist, and so long as the possessors of power continue to carry on with impunity their policy of collective imbecilization through … the mass media. (Open veins of Latin America – Eduardo Galeano)

    • vexarb says

      Ingwe, I started reading the Counter Punch, agreed it was not _only_ the oil so what were the other motives for U$ Grand Theft Larceny Fraud with Violence? Got as far as this:

      “It should be remembered that the Obama Administration had imposed sanctions against Moscow in March 2014 over the Russian annexation of Crimea, and later involvement in the civil war in Eastern Ukraine.”

      Could not read follow that, because I remember no such things as Russian annexation of Crimea (at least, not since Catherine the Great), nor do I remember a civil war in Eastern Ukraine (though quite aware that the U$-imposed Jewish Junta with their neo-Nazi stormtroops are continually shelling Russian-speaking Eastern Ukraine).

      • Ingwe says

        vexarb, pity you didn’t bother to read further for, if you did, you’d get a rather more serious analysis than “USA bad and after the oil; Russia good and bringing enlightenment to the world” .

        • Francis Lee says

          Excuse me but where did Vexarb say or intimated that ‘Russia was good and bringing enlightenment to the world.’ I can’t seem to find this.

  17. Antonym says

    Why is anyone sane still reading (or referring to) the Guardian?

    • RealPeter says

      I think the reason some of us still look at the Graun is that we can’t quite believe how appalling it’s got, especially when, like me, you’re old enough to remember the old newspaper from the time when it had some principles and a lot of good writing. It has the sickly fascination of something you know is really bad for you, like Nutella or reality TV shows. You end up wallowing in its sheer awfulness, unlike, say, the Mail and the Sun, which you always know from the start are going to be barking mad and have no element of surprise.

    • It’s pretty obvious Anthony. Because the Guardian, like the BBC and C4 News, presents itself as and is widely regarded to be an authorititative, non-biased news source. Hence it is hugely influential in forming opinion in the corridors of power and in educated society. Opinion that allow bad things to happen and ends up impacting lives. That is reality regardless of comments dismissing these news sources on the internet. And it is why it is appropriate for offguardian and others to try and highlight and expose the dangerous lies and omissions of these wide-reaching propagandists.

    • bevin says

      It’s good for cricket: the best paper in Canada for cricket news. Also for cycling. Since I first began to read the Manchester Guardian for Neville Cardus’s famous writing on cricket, I stick with it.
      As for foreign affairs, once it has been told by the Foreign Office, who the current enemies are it goes for them. Those who recall the ‘good old days’ when Latin America and the Middle East, including Palestine got reasonable coverage which sometimes was very good indeed, ought to bear in mind that, in those Cold War days, the main enemy was the Soviet Union and it was necessary to be equivocal about liberation struggles. After all, ‘we’ were pretending to be desperately sorry about the sufferings of the Russian people, and those of eastern Europe, so it was necessary to tone down the imperialist message.
      Now the Establishment is dead set on recovering Latin America in toto, banishing alien (Chinese Russian) influences and consolidating its base in the western hemisphere.
      Here comes the Atlantic Treaty Organisation ATO.

    • Jen says

      Why is anyone sane still reading (or referring to) the Guardian?

      This is like the old Soviet joke: Why are the capitalist nations on the edge of a precipice?

      Answer: To get a better view of us down here.

      The reason sane people still occasionally read or refer to The Guardian is to see how far gone down the abyss the newspaper has descended.

    • George Cornell says

      Because the people they represent are the biggest threats to world peace.

    • George Cornell says

      Because they represent and front the interests of the greatest threats to world peace.

  18. Richard Audet says

    Can’t resist.

    The oft-used cliche of the kid (not brain washed yet) saying out loud that the emperor has no clothes amongst a crowd propagandized, hypnotized and incentivized not to see and not to know truth from falsehood.

    The role of the MSM it seems is to perpetrate this mass denial. Thanks to kids like Kit and those that support sites such as this other kids are catching on. But, alas we are just kids after all and the grown ups have the power to spank us for such blasphemy. It is a risk we kids take to speak the truth we see. When you see and when you know remaining silent can make you sick (despair, anhedonia, addiction etc.). I’ll take my chances with the spanking and say as loud as I can that the emperor is a fucking war-mongering liar and thief.

  19. Gezzah Potts says

    Thank you Kit (and others) for starting up OffGuardian. Its a very precious place to vent, and to read the very enlightened, highly informative, and at times profound comments of all the other commenters here. Have made numerous comments about the situation in Venezuela on other recent stories here, so not going to keep repeating myself. Regards the state of the World: surreal and orwellian and just plain bonkers much of the time seems to be the case. At least Bolton was honest in stating the bleedin obvious, which anyone with even one eye open already knew. Thanks for your work.

    • Loverat says

      Indeed. I came across Off Guardian not long ago and I’m highly impressed by the quality. A site to vent – yes but that’s just a small part of it. What is it now – 3,000 articles published in just nearly 4 years?. A level of committment by its founders not matched in many places elsewhere that I can see.

      What I like about this is the quality and depth of the articles – and the fact each attracts a large number of readers commenting.

      I’ve been looking around various sites lately. It seems to be a mixture of those which produce good articles but don’t seem to have the following – or at least there’s a lack of reader participation. Or sites where the analysis is not so good but attract a large volume of comments not necessarily of great quality.

      Off G seems to have struck a really good balance which I think means it has more potential to grow further and build on its success.

      I wonder (maybe this has been done before) if Off G thought about organising an event to celebrate its next birthday. Might be a good way to raise funds and further interest.

      • Gezzah Potts says

        Loverat: yeah, I’m a fairly recent discoverer of OffGuardian also. Completely agree with your sentiments too✌

  20. David William Pear says

    I am surprised that the Guardian even mentioned oil and Venezuela in the same story. Did they also say it has lots of gold, coltron, and many other natural resources. Neoliberals just can’t stand seeing all those profits going to “waste on the serfs”.

    • mark says

      There was one leading US politician whose name escapes me for the moment. When Chavez was president, he complained bitterly that Venezuela’s oil wealth was being squandered on things like healthcare, education, literacy and welfare. It could have been given instead to hard pressed Wall Street fund managers in bigger bonuses. He wasn’t being ironic.

      • notheonly1 says

        Very likely McCain. Fortunately though, he already croaked. There was never a regime change or war he did not support, or demand. The sooner his warmongering Fascist buddies follow him, the better for mankind. I can imagine what “Bomb. bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” would have said about Venezuela.
        As I said before, Venezuela is venomous to those who want to destroy it. For all American sheeple to understand:

        The Bucket stops here. Exactly here.

      • George Cornell says

        Very much like George Best’s reply to being asked what happened to all his money. He replied that he “spent most of it on booze, fast cars and fast women, the rest I just blew”.

    • vexarb says

      @DWPear: “…just can’t stand seeing all those profits going to “waste on the serfs”.

      Ye gods, how ye do mock us! When I heard the following joke as a student I thought, How old fashioned; those days are gone forever:

      Newlywed couple dining at the Carlton.
      She: Darling, do the plebs dine like this?
      He: No, it’s much too good for them.

      Later that night, in bed.
      She: Oh darling, do the plebs do this?
      He: Yes.
      She: It’s much too good for them.

  21. Bolton’s casual mention of U.S. oil corporations going into Venezuela and controlling operation of the nation’s oil sector, as if it’s already a “done deal”, goes right along with Pompeo’s focused use of the term “former president Maduro” in the psychological operation aspect of the fully-mapped out coup’s full court press. Someone famously described the U.S.-led coup in Ukraine of February 2014 as the most blatant, obvious coup ever, but amazingly this one involving Venezuela has even surpassed Ukraine in insane illegal boldness.

    USA Inc.’s use of criminal aggressive war as a business tactic since false flag 9/11 resulted in the self-destruction of American reputation in the Middle East and North Africa region. For that reason the attack on the Venezuelan people for their oil was not surprising. Who will stand for peace? People might think creatively and act to prevent any repeat of senseless violence and horror as experienced by people in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen.


    • Tim Jenkins says

      For the record, the “USA Inc.’s use of criminal aggressive war as a business tactic since false flag 9/11 resulted in the self-destruction of American reputation …” Globally.

      Sorry to correct you, but no matter where I go, my first test of any persons intellect is “What do you think happened to WTC 7 ?” and until you get that sorted , the USA is the laughing stock of the ‘brave new world’ outside Government & MSM >>> Fact , clearly “you cannot be serious”, nor the Guardian nor the BBC nor Die Zeit nor Swiss national Television, nor Le Monde &&& and the whole damn network of partners in deep state crimes against innocent people , to further corporate goals.

      to even contemplate something in Venezuela is so absurd , when US Governance is so infiltrated with Deep State Dictators & actors, bolstered by Hollywood >>> get own house in order , before becoming guests elsewhere. This clearly applies to Britain & France , as well, indeed all NATO partners.

      Trump is gonna’ have a real tough time with Xi, coz’ you don’t get to insult the Chinese in public & arrest CFO’s for extradition , without some form of comeback & consequence and Chinese & Russian Military towards region Panama seems almost assured and the USS Fitzgerald warning ? how quickly people forget the 7 dead ! from just a container ship, lol … connect the 9 Dot line … – – – …

      The world does not want and never needed policing by the U$A, nor their methods of financial control & strangulation with credit on a scale far greater than Ponzi himself. And as for WTC 7 , this made not only the USA a laughing stock in the minds of all intelligent people, it dragged down & outed the very IN-credibility of every single politician in the western world , who accepted the award winning WTC 7 TonyAndyPandy story for CHILDREN !

      it’s time we got adults back into politics , coz’ at present all we have, without exception, is precisely what George Carlin described in ‘a few cultural issues’ … “Garbage in … Garbage out” !

      and we can be 100% sure that they are all GARBAGE, because they cannot even recognise a controlled explosion, let alone cooking the history books >>> not even one !

      The USA has YANKed all their strings, on behalf of Zion and corporate control >>> fact, not one politician permitted to call a spade a spade or WTC 7 a controlled demolition … let alone MSM.

      Long live the revolution & evolution of political conscience !

    • mark says

      Post Coup Agenda Items:-

      1. Switch payment for Venezuelan oil from yuan back to dollars.
      2. Confiscate Chinese and Russian oil investments in Venezuela.
      3. Privatise Venezuelan oil to Wall Street at knock down prices.

      Or, as the Orange Baboon himself croaked like a two bit Mafia hood, “Grab the oil! Grab the oil! Grab the oil!!”

  22. Loftwork says

    Quite right. I also find it depressingly unsurprising that the Graun is not concerned about the appointment of Elliot Abrams as Trump’s lead man in Venezuela. Once upon a time the Graun cared about things like Iran Contra. Now, who knows where it hides its principles, if it hasn’t simply sold them all.


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