I confess that the administration’s Iran strategy flummoxes me. Trump might stumble into a conflict with Iran, but as a diversionary war tactic, it seems unlikely.
No, if the president wanted to start a diversionary war, I would put my money on Venezuela. For one thing, the president seems intrigued by the notion. We know that he floated the idea in 2017 in his conversations with Latin American leaders. We know that national security adviser John Bolton declared earlier this month that “the Monroe Doctrine is alive and well” with regard to Venezuela.
Venezuela has a few other advantages. It is in the Western Hemisphere. There is a large coalition opposed to the Maduro regime. And its military is less formidable than that of Iran or North Korea. I could see Trump’s hawkish advisers telling him it would be a slam dunk.
To be clear, I do not think this will happen. We are talking about low-probability events. It makes no sense to do this. But remember, we are talking about Trump. Sense is not part of the equation.