Venezuelan Strategic Culture
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At first glance, it is difficult to see the strategic culture of Venezuela in action since it has not fought a war with a foreign adversary since its independence from Gran Colombia in 1830. However, by looking at a broad concept of strategic culture that includes non-military sources of national power, we can detect a pattern across time in Venezuela’s engagement with the international system. The essential elements of Venezuela’s traditional strategic culture are an inward focus on political stability and an outward focus on peace. The legacy for Venezuelans of the wars of independence from Spain in the early nineteenth century, in which their troops played a key role across northern South America, is a sense of nationalism, a desire for an autonomous role on the international stage, and a conviction that Venezuela can be a positive force for regional integration and freedom.1 Its role as a leading oil exporter contributes to a belief that Venezuela is a wealthy country that has the potential to accomplish great things. This sometimes produces an overestimation of its capabilities to accomplish change on the international stage. However, the legacy of political turmoil in the nineteenth century is a concern for both internal stability as well as the sense that the main threats to security are civil wars rather than external conflict.
The following Venezuela Findings Report, authored by Dr. Harold Trinkunas, is the product of a working group held in Miami on June 5, 2009, which included 11 prominent academic and private sector experts in Venezuelan history, culture, geography, economics, politics, and military affairs.
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