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Expand the defence of Essequibo

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There is a stubborn refusal by Guyanese of all stripes to accept that Maduro has already launched a war against us. Are we waiting for him to “declare” this? Or do we believe that, with all he has done over the last few years – up to presently annexing our Essequibo and taking the first step to a physical occupation by militarizing our half of Ankoko, which they seized in 1966 – he is creating a “zone of peace” in our region?
The point I have been highlighting is that, in the modern era, the old “absolute, kinetic wars” have been subsumed in the wider notion of “hybrid wars” – the use of a range of different methods other than physical force to attack an enemy.
These include political, diplomatic, economic and financial initiatives, and the spreading of propaganda, criminality, infiltration by fifth columnists, or attacking important computer systems. Technology has opened up new ways to conduct hybrid warfare. Hybrid wars are conducted in what are called “grey zones” – where all instruments of national power are leveraged to achieve the aggressor’s aims.
Venezuela’s use of PetroCaribe’s debt write-offs made some of our fellow Caricom members not only undermine our diplomatic strength, but give succour to Maduro in a very personalised manner, that subverted decades-long institution building. This is an instance of an initiative in a hybrid war.
After all the hullaballoo we made over our Caricom brother Ralph Gonsalves skinning his teeth in front of a map of Venezuela with Essequibo “annexed”, he claimed he did not see the map. But less than a week ago, he was in Caracas, still skinning his teeth as the Venezuelan-led “Group of Friends in Defense of the United Nations Charter” condemned – without irony – “the systematic violation of the principles of the said Charter by taking unilateral coercive measures” against Venezuela. Not a word from Gonsalves about Venezuela’s trampling on the Charter in rejection of the UN Secty General’s forwarding of the Venezuelan Border Controversy to the ICJ in following the Geneva Agreement.
Venezuela’s hybrid war strives to avoid Clausewitz’s kinetic war as “politics by other means” and embraces Sun Tzu’s Art of War, wherein the enemy can be conquered without necessarily fighting. Our strength is to be gradually sapped in the grey zone, as much energy is wasted to keep the war from getting kinetic. Witness all the diplomatic and other capital we have had to expend recently. The premises of the hybrid war-aggressor also become normalised over time, as we saw with Russia’s moves against Ukraine and other neighbours, including Georgia and now the Baltics. Maduro’s appointment of a governor of the region with the “authority” to award or deny licences continues the normalisation of Essequibo as Venezuela’s, so that the final physical occupation – as with Russia in Eastern Ukraine – becomes a fait accompli. Our acceptance of Maduro’s serial acts of aggression against our national interests as not “warfare” makes us complicit in his international brigandry. We can expect such actions to continue escalating, until one day we wake up, as Ukraine did, to find enemy forces occupying Essequibo beyond Ankoko.
Our concerns should not be confined to Maduro, even if he is defeated in the upcoming elections. “Ownership” of Essequibo is enshrined in the Venezuelan Constitution; the Disciplined Forces are mandated to protect that constitution, and because of the Venezuelan Essequibo Defence law passed by the Chavista-controlled National Assembly, anyone who denies Venezuelan sovereignty over the Essequibo is barred from running for public office.
In addition to the creation of a military base in Essequibo, to which the US would have access, we propose that we explicitly open up the region by revising our land use policy, to use incentives such as longer-term leases to encourage Guyanese to settle near the Venezuelan Border.
While over in Europe, the three Baltic states: Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, announced in January their intention to build a defensive line along their borders with a revanchist Russia that Maduro is imitating, we do not believe that is practical for us. We still favour an operationally elastic defence premised upon manoeuvre warfare, as we recommended earlier when we commended the US 1st Security Forces Assistance Brigade (SFAB) for working with our GDF. They are a US Army innovation to deal with the reality of hybrid wars in the grey zone that used to be handled by their Special Operations Forces.

The post Expand the defence of Essequibo appeared first on Guyana Times.

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