Gerald Horne, a professor of history at the University of Houston and author of many books, including "Blows Against the Empire: US Imperialism in Crisis," told Radio Sputnik's Loud and Clear that the coup was "tragicomic."
"I don't know whether I should laugh or cry with regards to the injuries and pain that have been inflicted by this adventurism on the part of the Opposition," he told hosts Brian Becker and John Kiriakou.
"Let's step back for a second and try to look at the larger picture. A part of the problem US imperialism faces with regard to trying to overthrow the Maduro regime is that Mr. Trump wants to do so, but apparently he's casualty-averse, and so he feels that all he has to do is say ‘boo!' and the regime will collapse, and that's not working out very well."
"And then, if you look at the neighborhood, Mr. Trump and his minions have other concerns, it seems to me. Just about six or seven days ago there were massive protests in neighboring Colombia. We all know that Colombian militants are not pleased with Ivan Duque, the president of Colombia — and many of them are, of course, across the border in Venezuela. We also know that Mr. Pence and Mr. Pompeo have been spending quite a bit of time in Latin America and South America, particularly of late."
"And obviously they've put a lot of chips, a lot of investment into the Brazilian — Bolsonaro — but you see, that regime is fragmenting, there's open animosity between Mr. Bolsonaro and his vice president. Mr. Bolsonaro's sons are openly attacking the vice president — who, by the way, does not want to take an anti-Beijing line, which I think represents a considerable portion of Brazilian public opinion, given the role that China plays in the Brazilian economy."
"And then you look at Ecuador, where the ouster of Julian Assange from the London embassy did not go very well with many of the progressive forces in Ecuador."
"And so, in order to overthrow the Maduro regime, it seems to me that there would need to be strengthened supporters of US imperialism in Ecuador, in Colombia and Brazil, and you don't have that. As a result, what I'm afraid might happen is what may be reflected in Mr. Trump's tweet yesterday, where he may feel forced to up the stakes to try to foment a crisis with Cuba, 90 miles from the tip of South Florida, which it seems to me would be opening the gates of Hell for US imperialism."
Horne noted that the Trump White House, like many US administrations before it, "could be considered a ‘hydrocarbon presidency,'" noting its persistent hostility to oil-rich Iran in addition to Venezuela.
"If US imperialism can then get under its belt Venezuelan oil, and Iranian oil, and have the Permian Basin in Texas, it's controlling the lifeblood of the Chinese economy, the European Union's economy, the Japanese economy; it gives US imperialism considerable leverage, and it seems to me, that ultimately is what this fracas in Caracas is all about," Horne said.
The historian noted this was also the concern about US competition with China and its expansive Belt and Road Initiative, an intercontinental infrastructure project. "China's in the passing lane," Horne said, and the US is struggling to keep up.
"It's difficult to confront China frontally, but if you can control the oil that goes into China, if you can turn Brazil against China, for example, then you might be able to gain some leverage," Horne said. "I think they need to realize that they really need to do a sober reassessment and recognize that the steps they took leading up to 2019 have helped to solidify the fact that US imperialism is in a crisis that it will be difficult to rescue itself from."
Horne said he saw "continuity" between US behavior in Venezuela and the golden years of imperialism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, noting it had a period of lull in between those two eras only because of the rise of a socialist camp that served as a check and counterpoint to imperialist plunder.
"Even if the Democrats would like to return to January 1, 2017, with the old alliances — with Canada, Germany, the EU, etc. — I'm not sure if that's going to be possible, not to the same degree. Not only because there's waning trust in those capitals with regard to Washington — and they don't necessarily see Trump as an aberration, they see Trump as a culmination," Horne said. "And the second point, the rise of China, being in the passing lane, which is obviously going to constrain US imperialism to a certain degree… so clearly we are entering a brave new world, but I'm afraid to say I don't see any kind of recognition of these realities that we are articulating in the higher counsels of the Democratic Party" or the constituencies that propel it, the historian noted.