Venezuela Goes Domestic

I was scheduled to appear on Fox Business this evening to talk about recent developments in Venezuela, but was bumped on account of the border emergency and other news. If I had appeared, I would have talked about the fact that the socialist collapse in Venezuela, years in the making, is being transformed into a domestic policy dispute here in the U.S.

Which is ridiculous: Venezuela has been going downhill for years, on account of its retrograde socialist policies. Inflation approaches one million percent annually; an estimated three million Venezuelans have fled to less repressive and less poverty-stricken countries; the country’s oil industry has crumbled because its socialist government is too incompetent to pump oil; Venezuela’s hospitals have almost entirely ceased to function; Venezuelan children forage in dumpsters for scraps of garbage; and Venezuelans count themselves lucky when they catch a rat to fry for dinner. While, meanwhile, socialist insiders have become multi-billionaires, as in Cuba.

None of this had anything to do with the United States. Socialism collapses on its own, every time. But the Trump administration has finally had enough, and has recognized National Assembly leader Juan Guaidó, who has a colorable claim under Venezuela’s constitution, as that country’s interim president. The administration has also imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s rulers, the effect of which is to bar U.S. companies from paying the Venezuelan government for oil imports. Instead, payments are held in escrow for the eventual legitimate government of Venezuela.

Nicolas Maduro’s murderous regime has seized on these actions to try to make the current crisis about the Trump administration, instead of its own inexorable failure. Sadly, many Democrats have joined in, prioritizing political gain above all else. Ilhan Omar has shamefully taken the lead, but she has been joined by many other Democrats and by much of the Democratic Party press.

The Cuban government claims that the U.S. is moving special forces into position to invade Venezuela. For what it is worth, I think there is little or no chance of an invasion. Maduro, naturally, now blames the U.S. for Venezuela’s collapse:

Maduro blamed Trump’s “infected hand” for Venezuela’s woes, telling the AP that U.S. sanctions on Venezuela’s once-thriving oil industry are the reason for the country’s troubles.

Right. Those troubles just started last month, apparently.

Maduro’s administration is refusing to allow humanitarian aid donated through the opposition to enter the country, even as millions of people go hungry. This week, his government announced that they would soon receive 933 tons of “health products” from China and Cuba.

Venezuela has become an international battleground, with Russia, China, Iran and Hezbollah aligned against the U.S. and most of the rest of the world.

In the AP interview, Maduro said the opposition-organized aid, which includes contributions from the United States, amounts to “crumbs.”

I assume he got the “crumbs” line from Nancy Pelosi.

Meanwhile, Democrats are jumping in on the side of Russia, China, Iran and Hezbollah. Ilhan is the most glaring instance, but not the only one. Reuters reports:

Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday said Congress would oppose U.S. military intervention in Venezuela and challenged the credibility of President Donald Trump’s special envoy, Elliott Abrams, over his past embrace of American covert action.

For them, everything is about domestic politics. They care nothing about what happens to Venezuela’s desperate millions.

The Democratic chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, Eliot Engel, expressed concern about Trump’s hints that military action was an option in Venezuela, where President Nicolas Maduro is under intense international pressure to step aside and the country’s economy is in chaos.

“I do worry about the president’s saber rattling, his hints that U.S. military intervention remains an option. I want to make clear to our witnesses and to anyone else watching: U.S. military intervention is not an option,” Engel told a hearing on the OPEC nation.

Military intervention probably isn’t a good idea, and I doubt that the administration is seriously considering it. But it certainly would benefit Venezuelans for Maduro and his henchmen to consider intervention a possibility. Nevertheless, military action, or even a credible threat thereof, is not an option because of the partisan stance of Washington’s Democrats.

Under U.S. law, Congress – not the president – must approve foreign military action.

This is a false statement of fact. The Constitution gives Congress the power to declare war, but since the early 19th century most foreign military actions have been directed by the president without any such declaration.

The rest of Reuters’ story is about Democrats’ attacks on Elliott Abrams and his involvement in the Reagan administration’s successful foreign policies of the 1980s.

Congratulations, Venezuelans: you have become a political pawn of America’s Democratic Party. Better get back to hunting rats.