Opinion: Like everyone else, we all saw the yellow notepad that John Bolton may or may not have inadvertently showed to the press during a Monday briefing. On it was two hastily scrawled notes about supporting the Afghanistan peace talks and the other was the “5000 troops to Colombia” alleged bombshell.

Immediately alarms began going off everywhere, was this a sign of the return to gunboat diplomacy, yanqui imperialism, and gringo soldiers invading peaceful Latin American neighbors? If so, Bolton committed a huge gaffe of operational security (OPSEC) and it would go completely against what this administration claimed its stated goals were.

When running for office in 2016, President Trump stated he had an anti-interventionist policy in regards to the region. However, many of the members of his administration have quite a different take on things and several, including Bolton, are very-hawkish. Bolton himself labeled Venezuela as part of a “troika of tyranny” (Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua) speech he gave recently in Miami.

Venezuela was once one of the most prosperous nations in Latin America due to its huge oil reserves. All of that changed with the coup of Hugo Chavez. Chavez was an Army officer who founded a secret leftist organization within the military and tried to lead a coup in 1992. It failed and he was jailed for two years.

He was elected President and then abolished Congress and the judiciary and immediately created a parallel government staffed by military supporters picked by him. He embraced Russia and Cuba where bought weapons from both. He began funding left-wing movements across Latin America including a $300 million dollar investment in the FARC in Colombia.

Then he turned his sights on the life-blood of Venezuela, the oil industry. He turned over the very profitable Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., to his leftist buffoon buds, who promptly ran the business into the ground, all while lining their own pockets in the process. He kept enormous popularity with the poor by making them dependent on the government with endless handouts and government subsidies. When he died, his successor Nicholas Maduro further ran the economy of the country into the dirt.

Inflation was off the charts, people were starving and they were flocking to the nearly 1400-mile border with Colombia to escape this latest socialist “Eden”. The latest election was a total sham, which was denounced, not only by the United States but by most of the other countries in Latin America as well.

The United States quickly supported the presidency claim by the leader of the elected assembly, Juan Guaidó. The only countries that are approving of this sham election and speaking out against the U.S. support for Guaidó are those normal bastions of democracy and human rights, Russia, China, Iran, Nicaragua, and Cuba.

However, back to the notepad of Bolton, is this a sign of impending Yanqui invasion? Hardly. An armed incursion by the United States military would be disastrous for the U.S. politically in the region. So, one has to read the tea leaves in a very fluid situation, which can change on a moment’s notice and come up with a viable scenario. Which is why the official U.S. response to events in Venezuela is to say that, “all options remain on the table.”

So, what is most likely happening? Guaidó has reportedly met with the military leadership in the country. They have remained loyal to Maduro as the senior leaders are the most likely to have benefitted from his perks.

If some, but not all of the military decides to back Guaidó, the real prospect of civil war could occur. Then there would be the resultant need for humanitarian assistance and the 5000 troops could be part of a peace-keeping, humanitarian assistance force that would be required to help the already starving people of Venezuela. The 5000 troops would most likely include them from nations in the region with American logistical support.

The contingency planning for these type of operations is always on-going and it is certain that political overtures are being made to other countries in the region that share the US view. As in our own SOF “Truths”, the time for planning is now not later.

Competent Special Operations Forces cannot be created after emergencies occur.

It is clear Maduro must go, perhaps Bolton was just sending a subliminal message to the leadership of that fact. With the illicit gold trade and the amounts supposedly leaving the country, that should pay his socialist buds enough to buy him a nice beach retirement resort in Varadero.

5000 troops? Most likely a coalition of Latin American forces. Obviously, it isn’t as earth-shaking as a Yanqui invasion… but that is most probably what will transpire. Is it out of the realm for the gringos to invade? No, but very unlikely. But whether by accident or on purpose, John Bolton just gave Maduro something else to consider.

Photo: screenshot of Bolton news video

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