BY ED FELIEN
I feel like Oscar in Sesame Street: “I like trash.”
What’s there to do during the pandemic and forced incarceration but watch trashy action flicks on Netflix? And, after you’ve watched all the James Bond movies and “Ocean’s Eleven,” you’re left with the dregs at the bottom of the barrel.
Season Two of the “Jack Ryan” series is about an evil Venezuelan dictator who is making some kind of secret deal to sell mining rights for tantalum, a rare metal used in computers. Jack Ryan, a CIA analyst, gets involved because a friend of his, a U.S. senator, is assassinated in Venezuela when he is investigating this mining deal. A group of CIA mercenaries are sent into the Venezuelan jungle to find out what secret stuff the government is shipping into an isolated area. Jack Ryan finds out it’s mining equipment, and they also discover a prisoner camp. In the process, they kill a lot of Venezuelan soldiers. One of the U.S. mercenaries gets killed, and the dictator makes a big deal about it on television, saying the CIA is invading his country. There’s a national election happening, and the woman running against the dictator is billed as a progressive social activist fighting for freedom, so, of course, she needs CIA protection, which the dictator also uses against her by saying she is a puppet of the U.S.
What’s the reality behind this melodrama?
Hugo Chavez was the democratically elected and popular president of Venezuela from 1999 to his death in 2013.
He was a revolutionary socialist. He earned the hatred of the U.S. and Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips for nationalizing the oil industry.
Obama declared Venezuela “an unusual and
extraordinary threat to national security” in March of 2015. The Washington D.C. Center for Economic and Policy Research said that U.S. sanctions have killed 40,000 people in Venezuela.
Mike Pompeo, Trump’s Secretary of State and former head of the CIA, told the Aspen Security Forum in 2017 that he was “hopeful that there can be a transition in Venezuela, and the CIA is doing its best to understand the dynamic there. I was just down in Mexico City and in Bogota a week before last talking about this very issue, trying to help them.” Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Samuel Moncada stated the obvious: “There is a secret operation by the Central Intelligence Agency to split up a democratically elected government.”
Nicolas Maduro, a former bus driver and leader of the Transit Workers Union, was vice president under Chavez. When Chavez died of cancer, Maduro was chosen by the Socialist Party to succeed him. He won the presidential election a month later, but Henrique Capriles, the conservative candidate favored by the U.S., challenged the results. Even after a recount of the paper ballots, Capriles refused to accept the results. He appealed to the Venezuela Supreme Court and they turned him down.
Maduro was re-elected president in May 2018 by 67.8 percent of the vote. The U.S. and the conservative opposition continued their efforts to delegitimize the election and Maduro. They claimed the election was unfair because Maduro supporters were telling voters if the Socialist Party lost the election, then people could lose their socialized medicine. On Jan. 23, 2019, Juan Guaido, just 18 days after being chosen to lead the Assembly, announced that he was formally assuming the role of interim president. The U.S. immediately recognized him as legitimate.
Then, on May 3, 2020, Venezuelan security forces stopped a coup attempt by U.S. Army Special Forces operator Jordan Goudreau. He led 60 armed men, including two former U.S. Special Forces personnel, in an invasion of Venezuela from Colombia. Juan Guaido denied any involvement in the coup, but Jordan Goudreau said Guaido had signed a contract with him for $219 million to stage the coup.
In the fevered ending of the second season of “Jack Ryan,” Jack and his CIA buddies storm the presidential palace, killing a dozen people, to rescue a CIA operative. The Electoral Commission declares that the candidate running against the president (Maduro) has won with 70 percent of the vote, while an angry mob storms the presidential palace. And, in a tearful finale, the new woman president is reunited with her husband—whom the CIA had rescued from the jungle prison camp—as our CIA heroes look down on their reunion from three stories up on the aft deck of a U.S. battleship, like gods smiling down on mere mortals from Olympus.
This farce would be hilarious if it weren’t so tragic.
Aristotle in “The Poetics” says tragedy is the imitation of an action that through fear and pity purges us of those emotions.
We watch Jack Ryan search for justice. We identify with his desire to help his friends. We are afraid when Jack faces danger, and we feel he is justified in killing anyone who threatens him.
The “Jack Ryan” series are training films for mercenaries and mass murderers. They turn history on its head. They create a false narrative that convinces us that killing anyone who gets in our way is heroic, that the good guys always win, and that the good guys are always the Americans.