By Jorge Castro
The recent statement released on Saturday by the eleven countries of the Lima Group made it clear that the military liberation of Venezuela will not be a multinational humanitarian intervention, and therefore that leaves no other path than that of a binational war between Colombia and Venezuela. That’s what you get.
Obviously Colombia will have the support of the United States and Canada, just as Venezuela will count on the support of China and Russia. Although, there are other actors: Cuba, Iran, and Syria, plus irregular forces like the ELN and the dissidence of the FARC. But the main issue will no longer be the humanitarian cause and solidarity with refugees. The rationale will be less altruistic, but more direct: citizen security and national defense threatened by the fact that the Miraflores mafia that runs organized criminal networks.
The more countries that are involved, the more it will be like an intervention in both its military model, and its subsequent processes. The binational war will be something else, and in terms of justice, binational war may be better than humanitarian intervention: fewer committees, fewer multilateral commissions reporting to several foreign ministries, less bureaucracy.
Furthermore, it is clear that the more multilateral the military action, the more opportunities for the different expressions of opposition to Maduro to end up paralyzing the process by trying to influence how their small representation quotas would be distributed in the “transition.” Fewer countries is less politicking at the same time. A Colombian victory, with the US acting in an advisory role, would greatly facilitate the transition.
A multinational intervention if it is cheaper than a binational war: its biggest point in favor
From the skeptical and even hostile environment that I perceived when I wrote my first piece about the neo-Granadian intervention for the military liberation of Venezuela just nine months ago today, public opinion has made enormous progress in understanding the dynamics of the situation. In Colombia, in fact, we were able to overcome the challenge of having an accomplice of the dictatorship in power, like Gustavo Petro; now Colombia is governed by a sworn enemy of Maduro’s narco-regime, Ivan Duque.
In any case, we can not expect that in countries that have not lived so long with the abuses of 21st century socialism and that also have their own internal problems, that the public opinion will be swayed with regard to the Venezuelan situation. The Colombian people, on the other hand, have seen first hand the negative impact of Venezuelan tyranny upon the whole region.
A big part of the difficulty from the Colombian perspective would involve assuming the costs of military action, perhaps one of the main reasons why Colombia should work on persuading Latin American governments to join the cause, especially those of the Pacific Alliance, so that they will begin to plan their participation in the most unpleasant part of the liberation, the military operation. Colombia is just now reorganizing its finances, a subject that, even without the threat of war, places a number of important restrictions on the demands of society in general and the government of Duque in particular.
For the same reason, with the financial situation improving, and increasing economic growth in Colombia, the possibility of considering a binational war is increasing. Once the financial matters have been dealt with, it is possible that a country such as Colombia could begin to prepare and deploy the logistical operation that would be required in order to take control of Venezuelan territory.
Now, that this strategic framework of binational warfare has not been ruled out, it should be discussed less in the pronouncements of the Colombian government, which will act with prudence in public and with determination in secret to act precisely when the conditions of victory are imminent, but more with regard to the operational actions in other battle fronts.
For example, the Colombian government’s ability to take out Guacho is one thing. But before acting against Maduro and his henchmen, the Colombian military forces must weaken other domestic threats, especially the ELN and the dissidence of the FARC.
This is an area where the nation’s enormous enormous military experience will prove extremely valuable.
The binational war does not only depend on humanitarian altruism
Of course on paper there are several advantages of multinational intervention versus a binational war: institutional legitimacy, financing of conflict and reconstruction, and obviously the specialized contribution of each country in their areas of expertise; however, it is necessary to weigh these potential benefits carefully, because many may come too late, or at a higher cost. A multinational intervention in 2023 could be more painful and harsh than a binational war in 2020.
And while the multinational intervention requires, in addition to appealing to humanitarian altruism, taking into account the interests of the coalition, a binational war could arise from disputes in border regions which suffer from many provocative actions by irregular actors as well as threats from the Maduro dictatorship.
Do not forget that part of the pressure that Maduro and his mafia put are putting on the areas of Arauca and Vichada is to distract from the counternarcotics operations in the Catatumbo, divide Colombian military contingents, and build a theater of operations that favors them. And just as they look for areas that could be favorable to their strategy, they will also try to provoke a confrontation ahead of time, especially now that they will feel the relief of Chinese financial support.
A multinational intervention may not be the most realistic option. In fact, the less interest there is on the part of other countries in the region, the more evident it will become that the dynamic of Duque’s force involves his ability to balance between the impatience of an explosive situation and the serenity of good planning. At this stage we must keep in mind that the Normandy landings were not announced on the radio: the mantra must be be calm in public, and diligent in private.