Are we about to invade Venezuela? There’s a lot of talk about it at the moment, with my old office suite-mate John Bolton invoking the Monroe Doctrine on TV this morning. The odious Maduro regime, and especially its Cuban, Russian, and Hezbollah (yes, Hezbollah) mercenaries, richly deserve every bit of hot lead American soldiers might wish to deal out to them, but I hope we don’t. I can think of few things that might disrupt Trump’s political momentum for the election next year more than another large-scale American invasion and occupation.
I’m doubting a Venezuela could be a relatively quick in-and-out like our expedition to nab Manuel Noriega in Panama in 1989 (which, incidentally, Reagan decided against in his last year in office, despite enormous pressure from our foreign policy establishment in Washington; he decided to “Let George do it”). As I wrote here back in December:
The conventional wisdom is that Trump won the key midwestern states in 2016 because of white working class anxieties over immigration and job loss (or just racism if you’re a leftist), but there is some evidence that Trump’s stands on ending America’s military commitments overseas may have played a significant role in his victory in the upper midwest.
I went on to look at some of the empirical evidence to back up this view.
Daniel McCarthy, among others, has argued well that a major military adventure is the biggest threat to Trump’s re-election. I can see this going the other way, however. Already we see the left, and several of the Democrats’ leading presidential candidates, reverting to form, suddenly speaking equivocally about Venezuela because of their latent anti-Americanism and anti-war views. One could imagine, with Code Pink calling a code red in the streets, that even war-weary voters might react as they did in 1972—while hating the Vietnam War, most voters hated the anti-American anti-war movement and its “peace candidate” George McGovern even more. I can see a repeat of this. But my crystal ball is cloudy.
In any case, the citizens of Venezuela got themselves into this mess. They should take the responsibility to get themselves out of it, without the need for American blood and treasure.
PAUL ADDS: Of the four of us on Power Line, I may be the most likely to favor U.S. military intervention. However, I agree with Steve that we shouldn’t intervene militarily in Venezuela.