November the 13th, 1940 was a dialogue day for Hitler and Vyacheslav Molotov, the Soviet Minister for Foreign Affairs. As history has recorded, Stalin and his Soviet realized early in the Nazi game that Soviet Russia had been targeted for invasion. He thus entered a non-aggression treaty with Germany in 1939 that basically allowed the Nazi regime to invade Poland and neutralize Finland while using the Baltic as a trade corridor.
Soviet Russia used the pause to rebuild the Red Army that had been severely weakened by a purge launched by Stalin in 1937.
By 1940 it was clear to Stalin the Germany would attack Russia so he dispatched Molotov to Berlin to discuss amendments to the agreement and to use the opportunity to gauge German intentions. Upon return to Moscow Molotov indicated his belief that Germany would move East sooner than anticipated by Stalin.
This encounter seems to be a good analytic tool to understand why the current wave of dialogue activity between the Venezuelan Government and representatives on the organized opposition will not serve the purpose of creating a path towards the restoration of democracy in the embattled country.
The Hitler-Molotov encounter pursed two different goals. For the Soviets gaining time to become strong enough to withstand the German invasion was paramount. Molotov thus needed to make Germany believe that the Soviet Union could invade Finland and make vital procurement of nickel and lumber difficult. Germany needed to make the Soviets believe that he was interested in maintaining the alliance so that Russia would not prepare for war and the invasion could be performed at the least possible cost.
Since none of these goals could be publicly stated both leaders engaged in shadow boxing over amendments to the secret pact of 1939. However intellectual slips on the part of the Fuhrer revealed Germany’s true motivations.
Hitler inadvertently warned Molotov of his intention to fight Soviet Russia when he indicated that the concept of revision by force of arms was never part of any agreement between the two countries. He then went on to say that Russia’s aspirations to be codified as a Black Sea Power needed to be examined. In short, Hitler indicated he had never really concluded an alliance with Russia.
The two Venezuelan parties sitting in the Dominican Republic face a similar situation.
There is the government of Venezuela playing for time to complete its domination of civic society through hunger, disease and isolation. Representatives of the opposition know they are completely unable to produce regime change.
But to be part of the political game they need to be codified as political players in the Venezuelan drama.
And given that none of these goals can be revealed, both publicly avow their interest in building the foundations for a stronger democracy. Needless to say, this will never happen as it is not a goal actually being pursued by the parties.
Does this mean that dialogue should be rejected in dealing with the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Venezuela? The answer of course is no.
Dialogue is what Venezuela needs but a true conflict-resolving dialogue would need to be inclusive, mutually educational, respectful of the other side’s humanity and with a long-term vision.
Successful peacekeeping or peace-creating dialogues are inclusive because for effective solutions to be found, the dialogue table must create a microcosm that closely reflects the besieged nation.
Polarization can only be brought down if parties to the dialogue attend with the idea to learn as much as possible from other parties.
Dialogue thus is not an exercise in talking but in learning. Participants need also to be able to identify areas of common ground and areas were agreement is elusive.
This demands sympathy and respect for the other party’s being. Setting long term goals takes participants away from current disagreements while transporting them to a common approach to problem solving that any peace-making effort demands. This exercise unfortunately is still in search of leadership in Venezuela.
Published by LAHT.com on Monday November 13th, 2017