The death of Ed Herman, co-author with Chomsky of the classic “Manufacturing Consent”, is a tremendous loss but he left behind a body a work to help us carry on his struggle. With Ed Herman’s words (above) in mind, consider some headlines today about Venezuela. Surprisingly one of the least dishonest was provided by Bloomberg News:
A Reuters headline put it this way:
S&P, a credit rating agency, was featured prominently in these reports. S&P was suspended form the bond market by the US government. Given the clout these agencies have in Washington, it is really incredible that the Wall Street captured US government did this to them only 3 years ago. The big credit ratings agencies were exposed as corrupt and incompetent during the 2008/9 global financial crash which led to the S&P suspension. Moody’s Investors Service, another big credit rating agency mentioned in today’s articles about Venezuela’s “default”, gave their highest rating to thousands of worthless mortgage-backed securities during the 2000s, and gave a thumbs up to Enron and Lehman Brothers days before each went belly up. Moody’s also downgraded the USA in 2012 which was totally nuts but a gift to budget slashing extremists in Congress who then gave back to Moody’s by gutting reforms that the agencies didn’t want.
A lot of the impunity these agencies, and Big Finance in general, enjoy stems form a corporate media always willing to forgive and forget – especially forget. Claims that Venezuela would default have been persistent for over three years now, since early September of 2014 when oil prices on which its economy depends were over $90 a barrel. Months later, oil prices plummeted by half and basically stayed there for three years and there still was no default.
Today’s “selective default” that left bondholders largely unconcerned, as even Bloomberg and Reuters reported, appears to be the result of a few big banks and credit rating agencies cooperating with the US government’s foreign policy agenda, as they obviously have with Venezuela default hype over the past three years.
“Default” hype aside, the really big story is that the US government, under a president that has a lot of incentive to look for a soft military target to distract from problems at home, has recruited the EU and Canada to provide him with cover as he attacks Venezuela’s democratically elected government. The situation has become eerily similar to the years before US troops kidnapped Haiti’s democratically elected president in 2004 and installed a brutal dictator who ruled for two years. Canada and France provide crucial support for that disgusting spectacle as did the corporate media. The response of big NGOs like Human Rights Watch, Amnesty international and Reporter Without Borders ranged from shockingly quiet to openly complicit.
It is a good sign that China and Russia just refused to attend an “informal” Security Council meeting about Venezuela. With a few honorable exceptions, dissent within the imperial countries is appallingly weak, as it generally is on foreign policy. Perhaps it won’t be if Trump rains missiles down on Venezuela, but the fact that military action by the US government is now a serious possibility should fill us all with embarrassment and shame.