Regime change – can it make a difference?
Despite the disastrous failures of regime change in the past two decades, the international community’s has regained its taste for backing up its moral preferences with military force. After a strong push from France, a new coalition has sought and found partners and legitimacy to protect natural rights and establish a more just order in a far-off land.
When Britain and France began bombing in Venezuela, they believed they had a sufficient international coalition to overthrow the caudillo despotism and restore legitimate authority to this troubled region. Long ruled by radical-sympathizing dictator Carlos Betancourt and his Bolivarian Social State, Betancourt and his cronies have supported decades of anarchist terrorism, fought regional wars to undermine Latin American order, and defied the international community with his pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. Despite attempts, in recent years, to rehabilitate Betancourt, driven by his renunciation of unconventional weapons, anarchist terror groups, and hopes of his European-educated family moving the country forward, the wave of restorationist and anti-democratic uprisings which swept the Americas, and his vicious repression of them, proved his habits have changed very little.
The indiscriminate use of aircraft and artillery against protesters in the western half of the country, with perhaps thousands killed, and promises of reprisal, certainly qualified intervention in Venezuela as a legitimate moral concern. It is hard for any right-thinking person, whether he lives in the Concert of Europe, its territories, or even the American republics, to believe the international community should stand by while a populist dictator implements a new reign of terror.
Representatives of the Venezuelan monarchists, many of whom are former diplomats and ministers of the Betancourt regime, have spoken eloquently to European publics on their desire for a well-ordered, God-fearing commonwealth in Venezuela, and hope to have representatives of the Habsburg line, who have long lived in Venezuela, claim sovereignty. But they need European recognition, and more importantly, they need European support. The military and state militias of the Betancourt regime retain the balance in favor of aircraft and heavy weaponry, leaving the monarchists with nothing but small arms, captured weapons, and their faith in vicious fighting across the Venezuelan coasts.
The slaughter has provoked even the pro-republican and uncooperative Pan-American Conference to intervene and end the violence in Venezuela. This council, which only a few years ago viciously condemned the British-led invasion of the United Provinces of Rio de la Plata to install a constitutional monarchy there, not just assented but requested a no-fly zone even before the Concert of Europe approved the action. While one must note the abstentions of the United States and Venezuela’s neighbor, Gran Colombia, there is no doubt a unique moment is at hand for the cause of natural law and legitimate order in the long-benighted Americas.
Some have questioned, in light of the heavy costs of the Rio de la Plata war, whether an intervention in Venezuela is merely a repetition of the same old faults. A strong monarchy cannot be imposed from abroad, they argue – it must come from the people. We know little about the monarchists in Venezuela, and their coalition includes would-be military rulers, and even a large number of liberals sympathizing with the United States and ties to radical organizations such as the John Brown Martyr’s Brigade and the 5 November Organization. How will they manage the indigenous and impoverished populations who supported Betancourt’s regime? How do we know a Habsburg monarchy would even take hold in Venezuela without troops on the ground? Do we really want, as the French insist, to deliver arms to organizations which trained the Guerreros de Facundo, responsible for so many attacks on Britons and Spainiards in the Pampas?
The history of the past century has demonstrated the superiority of monarchy and natural order over the forces of liberalism, social republicanism, and ochlocracy. The Great American Game, and the collapse of the Radical Republican party’s dominance of North America, should leave no doubt about that. Yet it is not 1989, and for all the counterrevolutionary activity in Latin America, we should not assume it is. Latin American history differs profoundly from that of North America’s. Unlike in the North, the peoples of South America were largely spared from the imperial rule Washington exercised from the Yucatan to the Yukon. The Canadians, Quebecois, Mexicans and Cubans had always chafed under American rule America snatched up their territories from the ruined Holy Alliance gains during the World War. These were wealthy, educated states who had always been closely a part of the European world, bound closely by trade, colonial history, dominion status, and shared noble blood to Europe. Latin America, less wealthy, less educated, and with its many so-called nations wracked by divides between indigenous, mestizo and European populations, could not possibly achieve the sort of ordered government the post-US states did on a similar time scale.
Nor are the counterrevolutionaries in Latin America separatists with historic claims to sovereignty, like the Confederate States, Texans, or New England states. This is not to say post-US governments have been perfect – anyone who has seen the continued radical terror in Vermont or the corruption and inefficiency of the Confederate States should be aware of that.
So far, the refusal of France and Britain to commit ground troops, and of the German Empire, the Tsar, and the Emperor of Japan to support the Concert’s decision at all, raises a question about how strategically dedicated the coalition is to delivering natural government to Venezuela. So too does the sweeping rhetoric about the need to enforce the principles of natural rights ring hollow. Why not intervene in Brazil, where the southern states have suppressed the Portuguese-Brazilian royalists, or the Argentine and Chilean Republicans who are suppressing their own counterrevolutionary protesters? The answer is we cannot, of course, in part because European countries are already engaged in a war against the anarchist and radical groups in the Philippines and still maintaining order in Rio de la Plata. But it also also because European governments are engaged in a dangerous double game with these liberal states which proclaim to support stability and global interests in the American world. This would also be the obvious reason for not stopping the United States’ brutal suppression of the insurgency in Kentucky or Deseret since the end of the Radical Republican regime. The United States are a great power and even hinting of international intervention in their internal affairs would undo everything Great Britain’s reset policy has accomplished, even though what Lexington and Salt Lake City suffer on a not-infrequent basis from the United States’ troops arguably parallels what Maracaibo might have suffered if Betancourt’s Armed Front of National Liberation.
However good its intentions, the Concert’s refusal to commit the necessary forces in its interventions will likely mean that Venezuela will become just another shadow of legitimate authority reigning over bloody and unresolved civil conflict. For all the quotes of shining intellects such as de Maistre, the international counterrevolutionaries seem to have forgotten his humility about the possibilities of human achievement without moral change. Ultimately, only that “most wonderful aspect of the universal scheme of things,” the “action of free beings under divine guidance,” will ensure history plays out its necessary course in Venezuela and the rest of the American world.
God save the Queen, and may he protect the coalition’s soldiers, sailors and airmen wherever he calls them to serve.