This "meltdown" we've known was coming ever since the late Uncle Hugo Chavez Obamaed his way to power in Caracas and proceeded to Obama what once was one of the leading powers of South America and an energy powerhouse that now, several years after his death under the charisma sinkhole rule of his hapless successor - note that pattern for near-future reference - can't keep its own lights on amidst the rolling blackouts.
And now, it seems, the inevitable day of reckoning is almost at hand:
The United States is increasingly concerned about the potential for an economic and political meltdown in Venezuela, spurred by fears of a debt default, growing street protests and deterioration of its oil sector, U.S. intelligence officials said on Friday.
In a bleak assessment of Venezuela's worsening crisis, the senior officials expressed doubt that unpopular leftist President Nicolas Maduro would allow a recall referendum this year, despite opposition-led protests demanding a vote to decide whether he stays in office.
But the two officials, briefing a small group of reporters in Washington, predicted that Maduro, who heads Latin America's most ardently anti-U.S. government and a major U.S. oil supplier, was not likely to be able to complete his term, which is [allegedly] due to end after elections in late 2018.
They said one "plausible" scenario would be that Maduro's own party or powerful political figures would force him out and would not rule out the possibility of a military coup. Still, they said there was no evidence of any active plotting or that he had lost support from the country's generals.
The officials appeared to acknowledge that Washington has little leverage in how the situation unfolds in Venezuela, where any U.S. role draws government accusations of U.S.-aided conspiracies. Instead, the administration of Barack Obama wants "regional" efforts to help keep the country from sliding into chaos.
"You can hear the ice cracking. You know there's a crisis coming," one U.S. official said. "Our pressure on this isn't going to resolve this issue." [emphases added]
O's policy play here is obvious: an "opening" to Venezuela and "President" Maduro along the same lines as his total capitulation to the Castro brothers in Cuba. Full diplomatic recognition, alliance, economic bailout, even military assistance. The whole nine metaphorical yards. That one's such a no-brainer that it's almost anesthetizing.
Of far greater interest to me is the equivalent scenario, a few years from now, when the United States is in the equivalent circumstances. Picture that story's lede:
The United Nations is increasingly concerned about the potential for an economic and political meltdown in the U.S., spurred by fears of a debt default, growing street protests and deterioration of its oil sector, global intelligence officials said on Friday.
In a bleak assessment of America's worsening crisis, the senior officials expressed doubt that unpopular leftist President Hillary Clinton [or Donald Trump, if your imagination is particularly overstimulated this morning] would allow a recall referendum this year, despite opposition-led protests demanding a vote to decide whether she stays in office.
You could substitute the lede from the story this week about Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff's impeachment, if you prefer. Either scenario is is possible, though the Venezuelan one is the more likely to be reprised writ large here over the next four years and change.
And when it does, we can only imagine which countries will be involved in imposing THAT "regional solution".