National Assembly of Venezuela President Juan Guaidó seems okay with the possibility of the United States getting militarily involved in the current political standoff with Dictator-in-Chief Nicolas Maduro. Via AFP:
National Assembly president Guaido told AFP he would do “everything that is necessary… to save human lives,” although he acknowledged that American intervention is “a very controversial subject.”
To call it a “controversial subject” is a bit of an understatement, to say the least. The notion of U.S. involvement in the South American country is something which has been brewing ever since the National Assembly used the Venezuelan Constitution to select Guaidó as interim president. The fact Guaidó discussed the issue with Vice President Mike Pence before deciding to announce he’d accepted the presidency is one which cannot be ignored. The veiled threats from the Trump Administration regarding military intervention in Venezuela also cannot be laid off as just bluster to get Maduro out.
Guaidó may be playing a bit into Maduro’s hands with this comment. Maduro has long seen the threat of American involvement – whether it be real or imaginary – as propaganda to get support from either the military or civilians who are still duped by his claims of “shiny, happy Venezuela” despite the rolling power outages and lack of basic supplies.
Yet, Maduro is also playing into U.S. hands when it comes to military intervention by denying humanitarian aid to his country. His claims America is trying to “humiliate the people” with the supplies will more than likely give the Trump Administration an excuse to send the military in to, as Guaidó put it, “save human lives” even if it involves possible armed conflict. The U.S is vowing it’s not looking for a fight, via The Wall Street Journal.
In the Colombian border city of Cúcuta on Friday, the U.S. ambassador to Colombia, Kevin Whitaker, warned Venezuelan military officials about enforcing Mr. Maduro’s orders to prohibit the entry of the trucks, which arrived a day earlier.
“The decision you make will be remembered by your moms, your sisters, your daughters,” he said speaking from a podium at the Tienditas international bridge, which the Venezuelan government blocked with trucks. “What you see here is the first shipment of what we hope to be a great flood of humanitarian relief for the Venezuelan people.”
U.S. officials said they wouldn’t try to force the aid into Venezuela, risking a confrontation with the military, while opposition politicians said they were making every effort to ensure a peaceful entry.
But Mr. Whitaker cited President Trump’s comment that “no option is off the table.”
There are people who cite the Monroe Doctrine as reason for U.S. involvement in Venezuela. Yet, these people are misinterpreting what President James Monroe meant when he sent his letter to Congress in 1823. Monroe wasn’t giving the U.S. broad power to intervene in any conflict involving the Western Hemisphere (emphasis mine).
We owe it, therefore, to candor and to the amicable relations existing between the United States and those powers to declare that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety. With the existing colonies or dependencies of any European power we have not interfered and shall not interfere. But with the Governments who have declared their independence and maintain it, and whose independence we have, on great consideration and on just principles, acknowledged, we could not view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling in any other manner their destiny, by any European power in any other light than as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States.
This is essentially telling Europe to be “hands-off” with the New World or face possible U.S. involvement. The only European involvement in the current Venezuelan situation is backing what the U.S. has already declared: Guaidó is interim president, not Maduro.
The reality is those looking to assert U.S. involvement in Venezuela should cite the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine. President Theodore Roosevelt issued the change in U.S. foreign policy in 1904 as part of his letter to Congress (emphasis mine).
Any country whose people conduct themselves well can count upon our hearty friendship. If a nation shows that it knows how to act with reasonable efficiency and decency in social and political matters, if it keeps order and pays its obligations, it need fear no interference from the United States. Chronic wrongdoing, or an impotence which results in a general loosening of the ties of civilized society, may in America, as elsewhere, ultimately require intervention by some civilized nation, and in the Western Hemisphere the adherence of the United States to the Monroe Doctrine may force the United States, however reluctantly, in flagrant cases of such wrongdoing or impotence, to the exercise of an international police power…While [other countries in the Western Hemisphere] thus obey the primary laws of civilized society they may rest assured that they will be treated by us in a spirit of cordial and helpful sympathy. We would interfere with them only in the last resort, and then only if it became evident that their inability or unwillingness to do justice at home and abroad had violated the rights of the United States or had invited foreign aggression to the detriment of the entire body of American nations. It is a mere truism to say that every nation, whether in America or anywhere else, which desires to maintain its freedom, its independence, must ultimately realize that the right of such independence can not be separated from the responsibility of making good use of it.
It should be pointed out Roosevelt was an American Imperialist whose desire for U.S. involvement in foreign affairs inspired other presidents (see: Woodrow Wilson) to push and push military involvement in foreign affairs regardless of whether it was actually in the country’s interest to be involved or not (see World War I and the so-called Banana Wars).
The short-sightedness of this policy cannot be ignored. The U.S. intervened in internal conflicts to pick winners and losers with temperamental relations with Latin America, as a result. America’s desire to make sure its own interests were served have only given dictators like Maduro the ability to use the United States as a bogeyman. It also encourages him to cozy up to countries like Russia and China whose history of interventionism is as great as America’s, but possibly not as known to those in Latin America.
The actual solution is allowing the exchange of goods from business to consumer. The power of liberalized economics is greater than any threat of military intervention, however, it sometimes takes longer for people to enjoy its fruits. There is no reason to get involved in Venezuela – regardless of which ‘doctrine’ is being cited as justification. One would hope Trump goes to Congress for authorization (as the Constitution requires) before doing anything.