February 25, 2019

Crisis in Venezuela

Editor's note: We couldn’t be more proud of one of our teammates, Isaac Rose-Berman, who penned his first op-ed this week in USA Today: “How college students can bridge American divides: 'Study abroad' in Alabama or New York.” Please give it a read, and share far and wide!

“Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro faced growing regional pressure on Sunday after his troops repelled foreign aid convoys… Violent clashes with security forces over the opposition’s U.S.-backed attempt on Saturday to bring aid into the economically devastated country left almost 300 wounded and at least three protesters dead near the Brazilian border.” Reuters

On Sunday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CNN, “I am confident that the Venezuelan people will ensure that Maduro’s days are numbered.” CNN

Meanwhile Sen Marco Rubio (R-FL), tweeted “before” and “after” pictures of Muammar Qaddafi, the Libyan dictator who was deposed and subsequently murdered following US intervention. Twitter

See past issues

From the Left

The left urges the Trump administration to exercise caution.

“Trump has framed U.S. interests in surprisingly ideological terms that evoke the Cold War struggle for influence against the Soviet Union… Having leaned so heavily into the conflict, Trump risks looking weak or ineffective at home and abroad if the Maduro regime survives in the face of U.S. opposition.”
Anne Gearan and Carol Morello, Washington Post

Yet military intervention “would be a highly risky measure. Many Venezuelans might view as liberators foreign soldiers bearing aid and the promise of a restored democracy. But many others would surely regard their arrival as confirmation of Mr Maduro’s claim that the offer of help is cover for an ‘imperialist’ plot against the country. Venezuela’s crisis is far from over.”
The Economist

“In some respects, the world’s most powerful country showing up at Venezuela’s border with truckloads of food and medicine is much better than what it has done in the past… [But] international aid organizations including the United Nations have quietly been delivering assistance throughout Venezuela, with the tacit approval of Maduro’s regime…

“One director of a humanitarian-assistance team told me that using what was apparently an aid mission to challenge a president stood against the principles of humanitarianism, while another said the effort was little more than an attempted overthrow of the government.” And while not addressing this specific situation, the director of the Norwegian Refugee Council in Colombia similarly stated that “there were ‘dangers of associating political objectives with humanitarian aid.’”
Dylan Baddour, The Atlantic

Meanwhile, many also worry that “Rubio [handed] Venezuela’s Maduro a propaganda victory with [the] graphic tweet of Qaddafi’s murder… Characterizing the Venezuelan president as the next in a line of leaders that the United States wants to depose is precisely the message that Maduro is spouting to Venezuelans as he rejects much-needed international aid.”
Daniel Politi, Slate

Dated but relevant: In a speech about Venezuela last Monday, “Trump proceeded to say the word ‘socialist’ nine times, ‘socialism’ 20 times, and ‘Maduro’ only 10 times during the entire address… Trump’s campaign [also] put out a statement attacking [Bernie] Sanders’s left-leaning ideology and comparing it to Maduro’s… Trump is exploiting the Venezuela crisis in order to win the 2020 presidential election.”
Alex Ward, Vox

Regarding the Cadillac tax, “high-premium employer-based plans raise the cost of health care for everyone by encouraging the overconsumption of expensive services. This means that even Medicare and Medicaid face higher prices. Quite aside from its benefits for the health-care market, the Cadillac tax would also have the effect of expanding the tax base and making the tax code more efficient. It would raise revenues by about $15 billion a year… Rather than killing or delaying the Cadillac tax, Democrats should be trying to make it operational. The tax would raise revenue, lower costs, increase the efficiency of the tax code and give the Obamacare individual market its best chance at success.”
Karl W. Smith, Bloomberg

“The two issues with which he is most often associated, support for a balanced budget and opposition to free trade, put him at odds with both of our major political parties. An old-fashioned, soft-spoken Southerner, he nevertheless held views on so-called ‘social issues’ that would be to the left of the mainstream of the Republican Party, both then and now. He was a fervent supporter of the Vietnam POW/MIA movement in the late '80s and early '90s, but he was not in any sense a hawk. Never mind 2003. Perot opposed the first war in Iraq in 1990… Perot's death should be mourned by all Americans who regret the fact that it is no longer possible to make reasoned, non-ideological arguments about questions of public import, and by the devolution of our political life into mindless partisan squabbling.”
Matthew Walther, The Week

From the Right

The right condemns Maduro’s violence and believes his days are indeed numbered.

From the Right

The right condemns Maduro’s violence and believes his days are indeed numbered.

“As the smoke cleared Sunday, Mr. Maduro and his Cuban handlers still had the upper hand. Yet something big has changed. With so many regime atrocities now recorded and circulated on social media and the privation triggering a mass exodus, Venezuelan suffering under Havana control is no longer ignored… only Cuba, Iran, Russia, China and their allies still support [Maduro].”
Mary Anastasia O’Grady, Wall Street Journal

“Maduro cannot hold on for much longer, with the economy of Venezuela ruined and the people, and most of the international community, calling for him to leave office. Even China and Russia appear to be making contingency plans for Venezuela post-Maduro. Russia has frozen the accounts of Venezuela’s state-owned oil company and China has been rumored to be in talks with Guaidó’s party concerning economic issues.”
Aaron Simms, The Resurgent

“Top military brass haven’t broken with Mr. Maduro, despite pleas and offers of amnesty from Mr. Guaidó. But there’s no doubt that soldiers and mid-level officers are tired of seeing the Venezuelan people suffer. Many have deserted and fled to neighboring countries… The aid showdown puts in stark relief the choice in Venezuela between a dictator who wants to block aid for the people, and the Guaidó government that wants to deliver it.”
Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

“The question now is whether Juan Guaidó can get [the aid] across the border or if Maduro’s troops will succeed in forcing people to continue starving for the good of the Bolivarian Revolution. At some point soon, the rank and file police and soldiers are going to have to say enough is enough and defy their commanders.”
John Sexton, Hot Air

Many argue that “socialism has crippled Venezuela’s once-thriving economy, impoverishing the populace to the point that people are literally starving in the streets. As recently as 2001, Venezuela was the richest country in South America. It sits on an ocean of oil, the world’s largest proven reserves. Yet today, its people are eating their pets and feeding their children from garbage bins, all as Maduro blocks humanitarian aid shipments intended to alleviate his people’s suffering…

“President Trump deserves more credit than he is getting for taking this stance against an economic system that throughout its history has created nothing but poverty, despair and want.”
Andy Puzder, Fox News

“If a dozen drones or missiles can do the kind of damage to the world economy as did those fired on Saturday—shutting down about 6 percent of world oil production—imagine what a U.S.-Iran-Saudi war would do to the world economy. In recent decades, the U.S. has sold the Saudis hundreds of billions of dollars of military equipment. Did our weapons sales carry a guarantee that we will also come and fight alongside the kingdom if it gets into a war with its neighbors?… the nation does not want another war. How we avoid it, however, is becoming difficult to see. John Bolton may be gone from the West Wing, but his soul is marching on.”
Patrick Buchanan, The American Conservative

“NBC and MSNBC embraced Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts in the first debate of Democratic presidential candidates Wednesday night, treating her like the star of the show. The debate led off with Warren, who had a huge popularity advantage from the start… NBC anchor Savannah Guthrie started it off sounding more like Warren’s press secretary. ‘You have many plans – free college, free child care, government health care, cancelation of student debt, new taxes, new regulations, the breakup of major corporations,’ Guthrie said, before teeing up an economy question. Guthrie even used Warren’s plan to break up tech companies as the foundation for a question for Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey… the round-robin final comments also ended with Warren, as Maddow asked her for the ‘final, final statement.’ That let NBC bookend the entire debate with Warren and Warren.”
Dan Gainor, Fox News

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“Why did Modi pick this moment to do something so radical? Violence in Kashmir had been trending downwards for the last year, after all. The main reason, besides President Donald Trump's alarming offer to mediate a settlement, is that he wanted a distraction from India's mounting economic woes. India's GDP growth dropped from over 8 percent to 5.8 percent over the last year, and it is widely expected to dip further. Just as ominous has been the crash in consumer demand. India's usual problem has been an insufficient supply to meet its voracious appetite for vehicles, cell phones, and other similar goods. But sales figures for all consumer goods have posted a precipitous decline, slamming businesses that are dramatically scaling back investments.”
Shikha Dalmia, Reason

On the bright side...

Taco Bell is opening their first ever "Slide-Thru" in Canada.
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