The United States Must Fight the Small Horrors of Venezuela

One of the small horrors of modern life is that because of the advance of technology and the roll media plays every day, we are inundated with reports of human beings committing atrocities on one another. Not just crime, but cruelty has become so common that it takes a lot to shock the collective conscience of our country. And even then, we’ve seen that shock does not always equal substantive action. The Obama Administration saw the empowerment of tyrannical regimes in the Middle East and South America, but also rise of not only a new front in Islamist terror but also a deeper knowledge of how groups like the Islamic State and their confederates finance their operations: including the trafficking of women and children as young as seven. For eight years the Administration’s response to these horrors were some array of public condemnation followed by total silence as the news cycle changed, new nightmares replaced the old ones and little changed for those brutalized across the world.

This wasn’t without cause or because of cowardice. It fit into the ideology of President Obama on how American power has been and should be used. However, that was the Obama Administration. Surely, things will be different under the Trump Administration, right?

Well, it started with a strong show of force after Bashar al-Assad ordered a chemical weapon attack on civilians, but there has been no follow up or clear plan of action to deal with the Syrian regime. Since then, there has been no clear plan from the Trump Administration on how to address the growth of hostile governments. For all the talk on being tougher with North Korea, the Administration is clearly hoping the Chinese government handle the situation to avoid a war. President Trump had to be pulled kicking and screaming to the signing table for stricter sanctions on the Russia oligarchy. However, none of these actions are definitive and they are not the foundation of a coherent foreign policy.

So, let me help the Trump Administration on this one because of all the messes spreading without restriction across the globe, the chaos in Venezuela is the easiest to solve. Yes, economic sanctions are a decent idea. However, as we’re finding out in North Korea and Iran, they have very strict limits. At most, the sanctions against Nicolas Maduro can keep his government from destabilizing South America as it tries to consolidate itself into a true, authoritarian regime. However, the Administration and the American people shouldn’t be fooled: it will only contain Maduro’s plans for the country, not stop them.

This means a few steps need to be taken by the State and Defense Departments immediately. The first is that President Trump must make an immediate statement that the United States does not recognize the Maduro government as legitimate and will be pushing for an international rebuke saying the same. Second, both the Secretaries of State and Defense need to be sent to South America: specifically, Argentina, Chile, Columbia, Brazil and whatever political opposition in Venezuela we can safely get out of the country. We need to secure their opinions and turn those opinions into a roadmap for Venezuela’s government if (and when) Maduro is replaced. Finally, Congress needs to pass legislation setting up a package of trade deals and financial aid for Venezuela that will be activated upon the removal of Maduro and an internationally-recognized free election.

Yes, Maduro will malign such actions as the United States interfering with South American affairs and, playing our cards face up here, he’d be right. President Trump may not like to hear this, and President Obama didn’t like this idea, but the results of previous foreign policy decisions should mature, but not dictate how we make our current policies. I agree that the United States haven’t made always made the right calls vis a vie international affairs, but I also recognize that some of our worse foreign policy decisions came as a reaction to a previous policy decision. It should be the prerogative of the American government to secure its interests across the globe with all the tools at its disposal and a free and prosperous Venezuela that our nation can align itself with as equals is vital to our national interest.

And even more than that, it’s in our national interest to show that after eight years of lethargy, what happens across the world is more than a horror show to be flipped through in prime time. We are not perfect, but the United States is still the best voice in the world for individual and economic freedom. And where those freedoms are in peril, we will be there to push back against the nightmare of tyranny in any way we can. And what better time for America to stand up than right now with a group of people literally starving to see it?