Gilkes: Why T&T should be wary of USA’s “gift” of Venezuela’s Dragon Field

Is it too late to post this? Our 9-day memory cycle kicked in already?

I was thinking we should forget cricket and football and make chess our favourite game, like it is in Russia. For one thing, it will teach us to think several moves ahead. And another thing, we will learn about that chess piece known as the pawn.

Because that’s the first thing that came to mind when I heard the news that Trinidad and Tobago was “granted permission” by the United States to develop the gas deposits in the Dragon Field, owned by Venezuela.

Image: The Dragon Field.

Well, that thought along with my frequently made comment that our “independence” is little more than a hollow farce.

I know plenty, plenty of allyuh eh really think this one over—judging by the euphoria I heard on radio and on social media. And given this country’s history, anything that even smells of more dollars: we in that! Don’t get me wrong eh, I know people studying the money part and lord knows the country could do with a little change.

Hello, my 4×4 does need parts inno. But this maths eh mathsing for all kinds of reasons.

Now I’m not going to talk about the economic and technical aspects of this development. I’m not nearly that qualified and others have already done so anyhow.

do think though, that we need to stop this myopic “innocence” (that’s what Lloyd Best used to call it) and be careful of being penny wise and pound foolish.

There is an old saying: “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.” Well honestly I don’t have any problem with the Greeks, who getting jam from the same old colonisers we know and love these days. But I watch the “West” and their “gifts” cokey-eye—especially that Uncle Sam.

A mythical Trojan Horse.

I told some of you before, the moment I saw USAID, which isknown CIA front, was going to operate here officially, I knew something rotten was afoot. It was just a matter of time before something developed either here, in Venezuela, or both places.

Nothing the US has ever done was based on altruism. Nothing. It has always been about self-interest.

Ok, fine, that’s politics. But that’s not how they frame their rhetoric. Right now things eh looking good at all for Uncle Sam in Europe and Eurasia or even in its own domestic situation—what with an estimated 48 million of its citizens homeless or unemployed.

And before yuh roll yuh eye and say so what, the point is that we getting something out of this… Well, eventually, you need to seriously ask yourself: what is our political AND economic cost for that country’s cavalier disregard for other countries’ sovereignty?

What is the potential fallout by them treating us and everyone else like pawns in some perverse chess game? So we “got permission” to develop gas in an area controlled by Venezuela—anybody asked the Venezuelan Government how they felt about this?

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley (left) and Venezuela President Nicholás Maduro during a meeting in Port of Spain on 23 May 2016.
(Copyright Reuters/ El Confidencial)

In 1813, no less than President Thomas Jefferson wrote in a letter that “America has a hemisphere to itself”, so maybe that’s my answer.

Furthermore, George Kennan, arguably the father of the “Containment” policy regarding Russia, was not pleased about the way Venezuelans wanted to control their oil resources, when he visited there in 1950. He complained that the price Western oil companies were paying into “the coffers of the Venezuelan government” was, a “ransom to the theory of state sovereignty”.

In his view, Venezuelans “had not lifted a finger to create this wealth (and) would have been incapable of developing it”. So maybe that’s why the US outlined the terms in this manner. Hispanics cyar run nothing.

And on top of that whatever revenues earned are reportedly not to go back to Venezuela? Not one cent.

And we don’t see something wrong, very wrong here? Something that could easily come back to bite us?

Venezuelan violinist Wuilly Arteaga plays a tune of protest during civil unrest in the South American country.

I mean I’m not too frightened that President Nicolás Maduro “go vex with we”. He surely understands our position, being caught between the hammer and the anvil.

Who concern me is those crazy non-state actors who could stir up all sorts of mischief given the complex history between Venezuela and Trinidad (less so Tobago).

Far too many people aren’t looking at the bigger pictures here and local media, long since irrelevant, sycophantic parrots of whatever narrative comes out of Washington and Wall Street, have been once again near-totally useless in terms of enlightening its readers, listeners and viewers on the realities of geopolitics—particularly from the standpoint of a region shaped first by colonial and then imperialist interests.

Any student of international history would recognise the evolution of the adolescent petulance, the sense of entitlement encoded in US foreign policy since the Monroe Doctrine, which prohibits Europe from exerting influence in the Americas (exactly what it is doing in Eastern Europe), buttressed by the Roosevelt Corollary by which they arrogated unto themselves the right to be the region’s and eventually the world’s policeman.

The 1872 painting entitled ‘American Progress’, by John Gast, depicting ‘Manifest Destiny’ (the religious belief that the United States should expand from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean in the name of God).

That’s why they’ve been constantly expanding into Eastern Europe and ignoring Russian official protests.

Put another way: it considers this region as its backyard and that its borders encompasses the entire globe (not me say so, they said so, there’s even a book on it which is quite worth the read).

Now connect that to the situation unfolding in the Ukraine, a conflict that began long before Vladimir Putin was an elected official. This was forcefully argued by several scholars from Professor John MearsheimerScott Ritter, Professor Ramon GrosfuguelVladimir PoznerGerald Horne, Professor Vijay Prashad, Professor Michael Hudson, former UN Rapporteur Alfred De Zayas and several others.

So too the aforementioned George Kennan, as well as the international war criminal Henry Kissinger.

They all insist that this crisis traces back to NATO’s expansion which it began to do when the Russian military was seriously weakened following the collapse of the Warsaw Pact—you know, its alleged reason for existence.

A soldier walks in front of a bombed building in Ukraine.
(Copyright AP)

This expansion was trumpeted very early on from reputable media houses like the Washington Post.

So what was said by former Chancellor Angela Merkel about the insincerity by the West regarding their Minsk “Agreement with Russia to halt an escalation in violence comes as NO surprise to me or anyone who has studied colonial/capitalist expansion.

In this lengthy and informative web conference, one panellist, Scott Ritter, former US Marine and UN weapons inspector, said it best: Merkel is a liar as is the rest of the Western leaders and it is irresponsible for the Russians to continue to trust in the good faith and intentions of liars (in that regard Putin then has much more sense than many of us—sycophants here still go with their lies).

Another panellist, General Delawarde, a former French intelligence officer, said Russia has had to contend with 32 years of lies by the West and as such, the word of the West is now worth nothing.

This was pretty much the theme of the entire webinar with CIA analyst Ray McGovern further pointing out the way Western negotiators addressed one of Russia’s key concerns: the placing of offensive nuclear weapons close to the Russian border in the Ukraine.

Russia president Vladimir Putin.

It was agreed upon in Geneva but, as the subsequent meeting was convening, that was yet another thing the West went back on their word on and struck off.

Six weeks later, the Russians invaded.

Look, the only law that has ever been recognised in geopolitics, is the law of power. Even this so-called International Law was drawn up by colonising nations regarding how best they could continue to drain foreign countries of their resources without necessarily killing each other in the process. But it was only a matter of time before one state would emerge as the dominant and flout its own laws.

That same George Kennan, late director of planning in the State Department, said in 1948 that: “We have 50 percent of the world’s wealth, but only 6.3 percent of its population… Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will allow us to maintain this position of disparity.”

He went on to say: “We should cease to talk about raising of the living standards, human rights, and democratisation. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.”

Late US Director of Planning George Kennan.

That’s why I prefer the older neoliberal and colonial-minded thinkers; they were more open and honest. Ludwig Von Mises, one of the principal architects of neoliberalism, was even more direct.

Mises flatly complained that much of the world’s resources are found in tropical areas “whose inhabitants are too ignorant, too inert, or too dull to take advantage of the riches nature has bestowed upon them.”

He also said that “the wars waged by England to expand her empire, laid the foundation for the modern world economy” and had India and China not been forcefully been opened to trade “not only each Chinese and each Hindu, but also each European and each American would be considerably worse off.”

(An interesting point when one considers that the Chinese, the Hindu and the African were trading with each other for hundreds of years before Europe even existed.)

Mises, in his infinite wisdom and perception, also reasoned in 1952 that any decolonising society that refused to accept its position in the global division of labour—created by the colonising and imperialist countries—could then be legitimately forced to do so.

Image: A cartoon depecting colonialism.

And if any “resource-rich backward countries” refused access to foreign corporations on the market’s terms then “can anyone expect that the people of the civilised countries will forever tolerate this state of affairs?”

Sounds familiar? Sounds a lot like what EU foreign minister Josep Borel said in his infamous “Europe is a Garden” speech back in October to me. Keep in mind that Von Mises is one of the thinkers who influenced the ideas and policies of Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and the many acolytes who came after them to this day.

We’ve certainly been seeing that with the Venezuela crisis (no thanks to local media).

Regarding the growing demand for energy resources found in countries like Venezuela that already had sovereignty, Herbert Feis, economic advisor at the State Department, said in 1943 that “nations that lacked oil had to bargain or barter for it (becoming) dependent on the bounty of others… the United States was unused to the idea”.

I guarantee you that if no one here in this country’s government or university is a student of history, at least one of their counterparts in Venezuela is and would remember that in 1944 the Anglo-American Petroleum Agreement was drawn up to provide a framework for the post-war petroleum order.

Hess Corporation is described as an American global independent energy company involved in the exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas.

They would know that Article 1 of that agreement laid out a formula that essentially prevents sovereign countries from controlling their own oil, placing that control in the hands of the giant oil companies that were mostly based in the US and the UK.

I suspect that this would have been influenced by the thinking of figures like Von Mises, Wilhelm Ropke and others of the Mont Pelerin Society—a curious gathering of elite thinkers who sought to confront the problem of curbing nationalism in colonies and to guard capital acquired in those colonies, even after flags were changed.

So power is the real law, power is the West’s real religion. Not justice, not fairness or equity. Putin should have talked to black people or indigenous people, most would have told him that the West breaks treaties every other weekday—more so when one factors in that this current war is also racially motivated.

(Russia is not considered “real” Europe, but Slavic and as such, placed among those considered racially “impure” or “contaminated”. This is why Adolf Hitler attempted to colonise Eastern Europe following the British and the US model.)

Then Prime Minister Dr Eric Williams (far right) sits on the porch of the Governor General’s residence in Port-of-Spain with former British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill (centre) and Federal Prime Minister of the West Indies Sir Grantley Adams (left) on 22 March 1961.
Churchill was holidaying in the Caribbean on Aristotle Onassis’s luxury yacht ‘Christina’.
(Copyright AP Photo)

The West have only respected power, power or at the very least violent reciprocity. Russia was targeted for invasion and partition since Cecil Rhodes and the Society of the Elect, long before they ever became communist. So don’t even try to pull out that over-beaten excuse.

Another panellist, Helga Zepp-LaRouche, put it magnificently when she said that this war ultimately is not even about Russia or any Eastern issue, but about the desire by Western elites to return the world to a colonial order, where they get even richer than they are now while in their own countries, people are starving and living on the streets.

And on that note, another huge irony would be what General Delawarde said—something almost none of these prestige school graduates here, certainly nobody on i95.5, Boom Champions, Power 102 and so on, seem to have the depth or courage to discuss in most circles.

This war is as much about shoring up an impending economic collapse by the United States and EU countries that is occurring at a time when the emerging economic bloc, the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa), have an estimated 15 other candidates applying for membership—Venezuela being one.

Venezuela president Nicolás Maduro (left) and Russia president Vladimir Putin.
(Copyright Sputnik News)

That is 15 more countries from the numerically greater mineral/resource-rich tropical south, moving away from the economic orbit created by the United States after 1947. Many of the countries that support Russia or at least take a neutral stance are countries that have a colonial past, which they have never forgotten.

So be very careful of what “gifts” are being offered. There’s plenty more in this mortar than the pestle—already we are seeing angry responses from the Maduro-led government.

And if we are banking on some sort of protection by the US, be very careful what you wish for.

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  1. I’ve tried on different device and browsers, the links in this article don’t work for me.

    • Sorry about that. I’ve just added several of the hyperlinks. I couldn’t get all done right away as there are a LOT. But I will return to it.

  2. There is a way around US sanctions, do not use anything with US content in it, no US dollars, no US banks, not even US intermediary banks that operate in the background of some transactions, no US workers, no US nothing and then use Chinese or other non western companies to develop that cross border gas field. That way TT doesn’t have to beg America for permission and Venezuela can get paid for it’s ressources. Shell would have to be compensated somehow as they did preparatory work. US sanctions are US sanctions, they are not UN sanctions. Of course no TT Gov will do anything to risk bad relations with the USA, and for the USA it is easy to use what they know about the hidden corrupt activities of our politicians as a blackmail tool to get what they want, otherwise they get to wear an orange jumpsuit for money laundering etc. using US dollars which is a federal offense that can be prosecuted no matter where the US dollars were used to do it.

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