Republicans Have Used Venezuela As A Talking Point For Years. Now They Might Invade
Could the United States take military action against Venezuela? That question was the subject of obscure discussions over the past few years, as the country descended into economic collapse and millions fled. But today, there is a real possibility that the Trump administration will send in the troops.
The US government has recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó as president of Venezuela in a direct challenge to President Nicolas Maduro and military options are being considered, at least according to National Security Advisor John Bolton. Bolton was spotted holding a notebook saying ‘5,000 troops to Colombia’ on Monday. This would be the first step in a potential invasion of Venezuela.
Bolton is a well-known foreign policy hawk and has repeatedly called for regime change in Iran. Its’s unlikely that Bolton simply made a mistake by showing the media his notes. A far more probable explanation is that Bolton wanted to leak this information to show how seriously the US is considering military options.
Republicans and other right wing figures have used Venezuela as a talking point for years, with elected officials and Fox News personalities frequently claiming that Democratic policies will turn the US into another Venezuela. Invading that country would be the ultimate step in cementing this narrative.
The US has already introduced new sanctions on Venezuelan oil, the country’s main source of income. The focus on oil incomes, and the poor management of oil revenues, is a large part of the reason for Venezuela’s current problems. Another major factor is the increasingly authoritarian rule of Nicolás Maduro. The successor of socialist leader Hugo Chávez has taken his country to the brink of collapse.
While American conservatives have used Venezuela’s failure as a cudgel to attack any idea they see as socialist, this is a reductive view. However, it has served conservatives well with their base as fear of socialism has been ramped up in recent years and has been particularly amplified since the election of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
If the Trump administration decides to intervene in Venezuela in favor of regime change, there is no guarantee that an invasion will be short and successful. The US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq led to long-term occupations, costing many American lives and trillions of dollars.
Reports also suggest that Russian mercenaries and Cuban troops are in the country and the Venezuelan army still supports Maduro. Any military action would be a costly exercise. And the decision would be driven, at least in part, by years of right wing talking points.