When you think about socialist nations existing under the thumb of a mad dictator, you need to be prepared for them to possibly be even a bit more “mad” than you were expecting. Such may be the case with Venezuelan tyrant Nicolas Maduro. Rolling blackouts still plague his nation, people are still struggling to find any food and riots are clogging the streets. In the midst of all this, Maduro isn’t exactly playing a fiddle like Nero, but he’s not far off. In his latest tirade, he decided to once again blame America for the blackouts and ordered all of our remaining diplomats to be expelled from his country. The problem is, we already sent the order to pull them out anyway. (Time)

With resentment percolating over a record-setting blackout, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro lashed out at the U.S., blaming the U.S. for the country-wide outages and ejecting American diplomats from the country on Tuesday, Reuters reports. Maduro claims that U.S.-backed cyber “sabotage” prompted the six-day power cuts in his crisis-wracked country.

“Donald Trump is most responsible for the cyber attack on the Venezuelan electricity system,” Maduro said in a broadcast. But experts said the powercut was more likely caused by technical problems in the link between the country’s hydropower plants and the power grid.

Maduro gave U.S. diplomats 72 hours to leave, though the State Department already announced Monday that all remaining U.S. Embassy staff in Caracas would be withdrawn because of the “deteriorating situation.”

It was nice of Maduro to give our diplomats 72 hours to leave, even though most of them were already packing up the trucks by the time the word arrived. Was the dictator even aware of that? If not, he’s growing seriously out of touch. Or perhaps he just issued the order in the hopes that people would see it as his decision and a demonstration that he’s still in control. How his citizens were supposed to see it when nobody has any electricity to power their televisions is another question entirely.

Venezuela may still get its electrical grid back online, however. In a somewhat surprising move, China announced this morning that they were ready to come in and restore power to the country. What’s more disturbing is that the Chinese are repeating Maduro’s baseless claim that we were somehow responsible. (Reuters)

Speaking in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lu Kang said China had noted reports that the power grid had gone down due to a hacking attack.

“China is deeply concerned about this,” Lu said.

“China hopes that the Venezuelan side can discover the reason for this issue as soon as possible and resume normal power supply and social order. China is willing to provide help and technical support to restore Venezuela’s power grid.”

Could we have taken out their power grid? Probably. The only detailed reports I’ve come across indicate that the vast majority of their grid isn’t “smart” enough to take out remotely by hacking, however. They’re mostly still just hanging wires on polls. If we had/have any operatives in the country they could probably take out enough transformers to cripple them.

But would we? I’m not naive enough to rule out our government getting up to the occasional bit of skullduggery if it suits our purposes. In fact, I completely support it if such acts advance our interests. But what purpose would be served by taking out Venezuela’s electrical grid and starving their people even faster? No practical motive comes to mind. I’m not concerned about Maduro blaming Trump because that’s just what they do. Chavez always blamed Bush for everything. But if the Chinese are now getting directly involved alongside the Russians, the situations will continue to grow more complicated.