After self-declared interim President of Venezuela Juan Guaido failed in calling on his nation’s military to oust dictator Nicolas Maduro, the attempted revolt appeared to have been strangled in the cradle. Only a handful of military leaders came over to his side and the civilian protests in the major cities fizzled for the most part. Guaido himself still hasn’t been arrested, but his deputy and several other opposition party leaders in the National Assembly have been locked up. This week, Guaido seemed to be getting a bit more nervous and he sent out an even more emphatic “invitation” to the United States. This announcement is as close as he’s come to a direct plea for American troops to ride to the rescue and take Maduro into custody themselves. (Associated Press)
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó on Saturday said he’s instructed his political envoy in Washington to immediately open relations with the U.S. military in a bid to bring more pressure on President Nicolás Maduro to resign.
The leader said he’s asked Carlos Vecchio, who the U.S. recognizes as Venezuela’s ambassador, to open “direct communications” toward possible military “coordination.”
The remarks, at the end of a rally Saturday, mark one of his strongest public pleas yet for greater U.S. involvement in the country’s fast-escalating crisis. While Guaidó has repeatedly echoed comments from the Trump administration that “all options” are on the table for removing Maduro, few in the U.S. or Venezuelan opposition view military action as likely nor has the White House indicated it’s seriously considering such a move.
Guaido’s desire to have a military “coordination” plan is understandable, given his current position. He certainly holds the moral high ground and enjoys some broad support among the citizenry. There’s also a definite argument to be made that he is technically the interim president, though a more formal recognition process would have been helpful. But the fact is that without the support of the military in his own country, he lacks the ability to exert true control or rule the nation.
And that should remind us that what Guaido is looking for is not military “coordination” between our two countries. He’s asking for an invasion, but the military doesn’t answer to him and would not follow his directives. Meanwhile, Maduro has not only the military leadership in his corner but also the secret police, armed militia units, Russian special forces, and Cuban troops.
I would love to see Maduro gone as much as anyone else. The guy is a monster, growing fat off of the plundering of his nation’s coffers while his people literally starve in the streets. But if he’s to be removed, it needs to be done by Venezuelans, not a foreign invasion force. Even setting aside our country’s history of military misadventures in South America, this is obviously not a war we want or deserve. The presence of foreign military units in Venezuela complicates it even further.
We should stand ready to support Guaido if he is able to take power and perhaps even give Maduro a free lift to safety (as the President has suggested) if that helps ends the conflict peacefully. But sending a squadron of B-2s to conduct a midnight bombing run on Caracas would simply not end well and could very likely subject us to the law of unintended consequences.