'Three Stooges': Biden team's bright idea to get Venezuela to pump oil for us panned by senior diplomat

A few weeks ago, the Joe Biden team, in response to Congress cutting off Russian oil imports, tried to get Venezuela to pump some oil for us.

The logic was to let bygones be bygones and ignore the inconvenient little detail about Venezuela's oil company being full of drug-dealers, which is among the things that got it sanctioned and cut off in the first place.  Why not have Venezuela replace Vladimir Putin for oil?  It sounded so logical, so easy.  Anything but pump our own. 

Well, now the details of that caper are out, and let's just say it isn't pretty. 

Here's an amazing YouTube video webinar featuring former U.S. ambassador to Venezuela Michael Skol, who is an experienced professional diplomat.  His counterpart is Pedro Burelli, the most knowledgeable Venezuelan oil expert anyone knows of, whose work combines deep knowledge of Venezuela, its oil sector and many of the complex international issues that surround his country: Cuba, Colombia, and Russia.  Burelli has been in Washington for a long time and is the perennial "go to" guy, known for dealing with facts, well received or not.

You know they'd have something to say about Biden's latest effort to lower energy prices at the pump by getting the Venezuelans to pump oil for us.

And for the Bidenites, well, let's just say that they flunk big time.

First (8:50), far from Joe Biden's presidency being the second Carter term, it's really the third Obama-Biden term, said Burelli.  "It's exactly the same team that left the problem of Venezuela in 2017 worse than they had found it in 2009.  So that sets the stage.  Because they have no excuse to say, 'I did not know,' 'I'm surprised,' 'I'm trying to learn the subject'—that excuse does not exist.  This is the third term of many of the decision-makers in Washington dealing with Venezuela."  He went into the sanctions the Obama administration imposed on Venezuela for its drug-dealing and other crimes.  "What we have seen over the last year and the trip is almost the opposite: a level of amateurish policymaking and activity that one has to understand where is that coming from and where does that lead."

Skol pointed out (10:05) that the Biden team in place is the "exact same people" who were there during the Obama years.  Of the March 5 trip to Caracas by three U.S. officials, he noted that Burelli had described the trip as "amateurs at its worst," as well as "embarrassing, obnoxious," and worse.

Burelli explained that it was "ill conceived, ill executed, and ill communicated," given that the trip confused U.S. allies in Venezuela who have stood by the U.S. amid crisis, as well as Venezuelan people.  "In reality, it was a fool's errand."

Burelli said (11:49) it was all about getting Putin's ally, Venezuela, to pump oil for us as it once reliably did.  The U.S. was getting ready to sever ties to Russia on oil and would get Venezuela to supply it instead. 

Burelli said that the "very, very amateurish idea" popped up because U.S. relations with the Arab suppliers, such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, had gone bad, and Biden had canceled the Keystone XL pipeline, both of which would otherwise have been more workable solutions.

Burelli pointed out that the trip trampled over the three tracks of Venezuelan-U.S. diplomacy, which included energy needs, policy matters around democracy issues, and hostage release efforts (13:24), creating "a sloppy trip that didn't yield anything in reality, that created confusion, and I think that proves one point, which is 'you do not improvise at this stage of the game,' it is too late, you do not send the wrong people to negotiate — with somebody who has played games with every type of negotiator. ... If you decide to go down there, send somebody with some negotiating experience, and that's not the case with two of the people who went on this trip."

He compared them to "ostriches" by taking this on without telling any allies, three characters aligned with Obama-Biden, including "senior U.S. officials, including Carstens; ambassador on Venezuelan Affairs James Story; and Juan Gonzalez, senior director for the Western Hemisphere at the White House."

There also was a character in the background, called Amos Hochstein, who was listed as senior adviser for energy security.  Only one of them, maybe Carstens or Story, had any experience with diplomacy.  Burelli pointed out that Venezuela is such a shambles that it can't produce oil, particularly since it's now heavily involved in drug-dealing. 

"The first thing I thought when the three stooges, excuse me, the three representatives went to Caracas was 'What oil are they seeking?'"

It was so bad that the only strong voice speaking out against the caper was Democrat Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey. 

Burelli noted that the Bidenites failed to sort out what the Trump administration got right in its bipartisan foreign policy and what it didn't.  Biden, Burelli said, should "relish that, protect that," as bipartisanship is rare.  Instead, it just "knee-jerk" swept out all of it, making a mess, same as it has at the border.

After that, the conversation veered into a beyond-interesting section on Venezuelan oil production and how it strengthened Putin.  More on this in a separate post.

It wrapped up toward the end with harsh words for former national security adviser John Bolton (56:41) and special envoy Eliot Abrams, who didn't understand Venezuela very much, either — "zero," Burelli said — let alone spend time there.  "Their hearts were in the right place," Burelli said.  (Does it surprise anyone here that Bolton was incompetent?)  In general, fear was why so many U.S. policies to Venezuela went south.  The more people learned about Venezuela and its impossible ingrained drugs-and-oil-and-gangs-and-tainted-military corruption situation, the more people wanted "to run away with it."  The Bidenites, though, drew even harsher words, because they had no excuse and were making the same mistakes over and over again.  They also should have known what was going on, which they did, but didn't care.  "They just wanted it to go away," said Burelli.

They would be better off were they to just keep hammering the regime with sanctions tactics and pressure tactics until the ruling Maduroites got the message.

Verdict: Biden doesn't know what he's doing on this miserable front and, according to those who know what's going on, is led by "three stooges."  Lovely picture.

Image: Screen shot, Andean American Associations video, posted on YouTube.

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