If you can’t think of an answer, let Trump and Mike Pompeo know as soon as possible. And I do mean as soon as possible.
“The President has been crystal clear and incredibly consistent. Military action is possible. If that’s what’s required, that’s what the United States will do,” Pompeo said on Fox Business Network. “We’re trying to do everything we can to avoid violence. We’ve asked all the parties involved not to engage in the kind of activity. We’d prefer a peaceful transition of government there, where Maduro leaves and a new election is held. But the President has made clear, in the event that there comes a moment — and we’ll all have to make decisions about when that moment is — and the President will have to ultimately make that decision. He is prepared to do that if that’s what’s required.”
What sort of developments on the ground would “require” the U.S. to act? An all-out attack by Maduro on Venezuelan civilians? Ironically, that’d be a reprise of Obama’s justification for assembling the coalition against Qaddafi in Libya, that members of the United Nations have a responsibility to protect vulnerable populations from war crimes committed by their own government. Trump endorsed intervention in Libya in 2011 on humanitarian grounds then predictably ran away from it after the post-Qaddafi period proved violent and chaotic. Currently he’s rooting for the country’s new Qaddafi-esque military strongman to march on the U.S.-backed government in Tripoli. Don’t look to POTUS for consistency on any of this. He’s probably gung ho to take out Maduro for no grander reason than that dealing a famous socialist a bruising defeat would be sweet symbolism for 2020 and would get all the kooks on the far left of the Democratic Party yelling at him.
Tucker’s going to yell at him in the meantime, though:
“Would the overthrow of [President Nicolás] Maduro make Venezuela a more stable, prosperous country? More to the point, would it be good for the United States?” Carlson said, specifically pointing to calls for intervention from Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.). “Before the bombers take off, let’s just answer a few quick questions, starting with the most obvious: When was the last time we successfully meddled in the political life of another country? Has it ever worked? How are those democracies we set up in Iraq and Libya and Syria and Afghanistan?”
Carlson further claimed sanctions against the South American nation hurt America’s middle class by increasing gas prices. If pro-interventionists “are indeed good people, why do they seem to care more about Venezuela than they care about this country, the one they run?” he said.
He can beat up on Rick Scott all he wants but Scott knows who his constituents in Florida are and knows what they want to hear. Even Democrats in Florida are siding with Juan Guaido, realizing that they’d have a political problem with both Cuban expats and Venezuelan expats if they backed a Castro-supported cretin like Maduro. (The White House continues to emphasize Cuba’s role in propping up Maduro in public pronouncements, which is both true and good politics. Pompeo’s even taken to noting that Cuba has essentially invaded the country.) Tucker knows who his constituents are too, though: He’s pitching to an audience of one here, Fox News’s most loyal viewer. What happened to the isolationist Donald we all thought we knew from the Republican primaries? Why is General Haftar’s attempt to impose “stability” on Libya praiseworthy while Maduro’s attempt to impose “stability” on Venezuela worthy of U.S. military intervention?
He gets too cute with his own argument at points, though. It’s true that interventionists routinely demagogue isolationists as callous towards war crimes but Carlson demagogues interventionists when he accuses them of caring more about Venezuela than about the U.S. (Although, full confession, this Onion quickie yesterday did make me laugh.) And he’s missing the point when he says that U.S. intervention would cause a massive refugee crisis. One reason that Trump has been sold on confronting Maduro, I’d bet, is the belief that U.S. intervention might actually stave off a protracted civil war and prevent a refugee crisis. Interventionists have spent the better part of 10 years claiming that if America had jumped into Syria early and aggressively Assad might have been dislodged and a “political solution” brokered that would have spared the country from years of havoc. Because it didn’t, the war became a maelstrom and Europe was left to find sanctuary for fleeing Syrians. Whether U.S. intervention really would have made the war better or worse is unknowable — and its unknowability is part of Carlson’s point, that interventionists always think they know how the script’s going to go and they never, ever do. But Tucker himself is claiming a weird degree of certainty in believing that U.S. intervention can only make the refugee problem worse. What if we stay out, the Venezuelan military splits, Maduro hangs on as stubbornly as Assad did, and we get a 10-year civil war anyway with enthusiastic Russian and Cuban participation?