Russian Institute for Strategic Studies expert Igor Pshenichnikov: How Brazil’s possible admission to NATO is linked to U.S. plans to overthrow Nicolas Maduro.

President Donald Trump used another trick in confronting Venezuela, which greatly surprised his current NATO allies. During a visit to Washington by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Trump announced that he might recommend that the alliance admit Brazil.

It would be naïve to consider that by this announcement, Washington intends to strengthen its military influence on Latin America. The U.S. already does almost anything it wants in its own backyard. Trump’s statement is directly related to his plans to overthrow Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, including through the use of force. The U.S. expects to use its closest allies in the region for this. Brazil and Colombia, unlike all other Latin American countries, openly support U.S. intervention in Venezuela.

Trump doesn’t intend to renege on claims that “the days of Maduro are numbered,” and doesn’t intend to back down from his plans to overthrow the legitimate president of Venezuela.

Using all kinds of indirect influence failed to produce results for the White House. It has been more than a month since Juan Guaido proclaimed himself the president of Venezuela, but at the same time, the legal president, Maduro, controls the situation in the country. Washington’s blitzkrieg failed. One cannot increase the wave of popular discontent against Maduro, and even the latest provocation, a cyberattack on the Venezuelan power system, was unsuccessful. The local people are not protesting Maduro because the country has been living without energy for several days. They understood who ”flipped the switch.”

Brazil’s admission to NATO is really only theoretical. One can already confidently predict that U.S. allies in NATO will be skeptical, and ask, “Why?” After all, the U.S. already has complete control of all Latin America – with the exception of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. The U.S. has dozens of military bases in the region, located in Central America and the Caribbean, and in Colombia, Peru, Chile and Paraguay. The governments of the absolute majority of countries in the region obediently carry out all of America’s instructions, recognizing America’s financial and military power south of the Rio Grande.

Just looking at the work of the Organization of American States, or the Lima Group, hastily assembled to put pressure on Venezuela, makes it all clear: In Latin America, everyone follows orders from Washington. Why else would you recommend admittance to NATO? Moreover, U.S. allies will object on legal grounds. In that case, there is a mechanism already in place for granting NATO status to a non-NATO ally of the U.S. It has been used for Australia, Japan, South Korea, Jordan, New Zealand, Argentina and the Philippines.

There’s an even more specific way of binding a country to NATO. Last June, Colombia became NATO’s first “global partner” in Latin America. The Latin American press spoke of this fact as if Bogota’s actual admission to the alliance was implied. That’s essentially true. Moreover, in Latin America, no one hid the fact that the North Atlantic alliance brought Colombia into its group of “partners” as a de facto member, in formal preparation for the U.S. armed invasion of Venezuela. Most likely, the same will happen with Brazil.

It cannot be ruled out that the U.S. will play the long game and, if Brazil actually becomes a member of NATO, the U.S. will apply Article 5 of the NATO charter, which presupposes a collective military response from all NATO countries if any of them are subjected to aggression. That is, Americans could interpret any provocation organized by Venezuela on the border with Brazil as “aggression against a NATO member by Venezuela,” which would force the entire alliance to unleash its military might on Venezuela. But there is still a big question as to how many member countries will willingly agree to be drawn into a conflict in the Southern hemisphere that has unpredictable consequences.

Meanwhile, the more time that passes, and the more the U.S. pressures Venezuela, the clearer it becomes that all of the “bloodless” American plans will fail, one after another. Therefore, the use of force seems to be the only way out for Washington. What will it be? It is obvious that the U.S. is weighing the pros and cons as they think of exactly how to conduct military action against Venezuela, including doing so with the help of Colombian and Brazilian armed forces. The likely failure of a direct armed invasion will put an end to Trump’s plans for reelection to a second term. And this serious consideration explains why he has not yet given the order to attack Venezuela.

Realistically speaking, the most likely scenario is using Brazil and Colombia as a springboard for the use of mercenaries to launch a guerrilla war against the Venezuelan government. That’s how the U.S. proceeded in the 1980s against Nicaragua. For a decade, the country was subjected to terror by the Contras, who were based out of the American base, “Aguacate,” in Honduras.