Why State Department's 'Charm Offensive' Is in Fact Offensive to Venezuelans

15-05-2019 strategic-culture.org 6 min #156389

Tim Kirby

For those who are fed up with or have been on the bad end of US Foreign Policy since the end of the Cold War, ShareAmerica's video " A New Venezuela" is not going to put a smile on your face. Sadly instead showing the America people love filled with free-spirited rugged individuals with a can-do attitude driving cool cars, they instead went with making a video about the other America that the world does not love - the one that tells everyone what to do and how to live under the threat of force for non-compliance.

Before we talk about the video it must be stated that this piece was paid for by the US State Department as part of the "ShareAmerica" Youtube channel. The official description of the channel is as follows.

"This channel delivers videos on American life, culture and politics. Produced by the US Department of State Bureau of International Information Programs, the videos illustrate values that underlie US policies and explore interests shared by Americans and people around the world."

There is absolutely nothing wrong with a government using Youtube as a means of explaining its policies or doing PR for its nation. In fact the United States should make explanations as to why it has certain policies so a broad audience can understand them. That is completely reasonable, however this video about Venezuela does not explain anything about American culture, in fact it has nothing to do with America at all. It sort touches on that point about "illustrat(ing) values that underlie US policies" but in the most counterproductive means possible.

The very first words of the video, by US Special Representative for Venezuela Elliot Abrams hit the viewer hard like a baseball bat to the forehead coated in pure smugness.

"The current state of affairs is not normal for Venezuela, it is not acceptable for Venezuelans. I am absolutely convinced it is not Venezuela's destiny..." 

The smugness mentioned above comes from the position from which Mr. Abrams it talking to the audience. How can any foreigner from a completely different civilization, say that they know what is "normal" for a people that is not their own and that they probably do not understand. Moreover how some suit in a biased position in a foreign government possibly know the destiny for a far-off nation with a radically different culture and history, especially since the destiny of America is a much debated topic even among Americans.

Well, if you look at the world from the perspective of a pro-Western bigot absolutely convinced of his own inherent superiority and the universalism of is beliefs then it seems perfectly reasonable to be able to tell any people in any country outside the West that they need to get with the program.

Since Abrams believes there is only one correct, moral, effective destiny for all of humanity then it makes perfect sense that he would chose to preach the one true faith to the heathen barbarians without thinking a second thought.

Looking again at these words from other angles, the question of "normalcy" in Venezuela right now is very much related to US meddling. If there was no big media pressure being put on the nation to overthrow Maduro then there would probably be a much higher level of "normalcy" in the nation. Political stability is critical to a strong economy.

Regarding whether the state of affairs in Venezuela is "acceptable" depends on your political leanings, but since Maduro continues to have very strong support from the masses the majority does apparently find things to be acceptable with the moustached one at the helm.

Just a few sentences in to the video and any viewer with even a basic knowledge of history and current affairs will be frothing at the mouth from the arrogance and irrationality of the Special Representative's generic Beltway presentation.

As the video goes on Abrams explains his/America's vision for Venezuela. Again, it begs the question, why should a foreigner and a foreign nation have a vision for Venezuela? But in short makes the overall argument that the video conveys is that if you back our guy Guaido then Venezuela will get nice things, like better medical care, stable electricity etc.

One of the biggest offers that the West presents to the world is simply materialism. Adopt our way, or submit to it and you will live well. This type of simple submission-for-wealth scheme worked very well in Eastern Europe during the Cold War and is surely partially responsible for the fall of Communism.

At that point in history many people behind the Iron Curtain were convinced that by submitting to the West they would get all the good things from stable dull Communism plus the fantastic cars, vacations and blue jeans they saw in movies they officially weren't supposed to be watching. They were sure they would get "200 kinds of sausage" and all the Adidas track suits they could ever want, but the problem is that they didn't realize that most of them would have to become migrant workers serving Brits their coffee to buy those nice things struggling far away from their homes like my cousins do.

To an extent, even today, poor people in the former Soviet Union are convinced that if they go to the West they will get instantly wealthy because those nations do things "for the people". Talk to any Uzbek taxi driver and they will tell you it is so.

But we are not living in 1989 and we can see that the submit-for-wealth strategy has very high costs. Despite Soviet "repressions" in the Baltic states at least their populations grew, whereas with their new freedom these and other Western nations' native populations are dying out and being replaced by migrants who despise them. Furthermore, despite completely submitting to the West nations like Slovakia are Romania are still very poor and nations like China and Singapore who reject many Western values are on the rise.

Without going into a diatribe it is now becoming obvious that the submit-for-wealth offer is far less sweet than it used to be. Maybe 30 or 40 years ago the Venezuelans en masse could have bought this, but no sane person is going to think that if they bring in Guaido, Venezuela will be as rich as 1950's America in 5 years. This video's Cold War tactic is no longer the home run hit that it used to be, but how could the State Department redo this video to make it much more effective while relaying the same message?

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