January 25, 2019

US and Others Recognize Guaido

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!

“U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday recognized Juan Guaido, the head of Venezuela’s opposition, as the country’s interim president.” On Wednesday, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay and Peru also recognized Guaido. Reuters

Both sides expressed support for Guaido:

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) stated, “I spoke at length to the new President of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó, today. I assured him of my strong support for a more peaceful and democratic future in Venezuela under his transitional leadership. The people of Venezuela deserve it.” Twitter

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) added, “The most important action the U.S. can take immediately on #Venezuela is to be prepared to work with our regional allies & the international community to provide food, medicine & other humanitarian aid in coordination with President [Guaido].” Twitter

See past issues

From the Left

The left is urging the Trump administration to allow Venezuela’s neighboring countries to take the lead in a coordinated international response, rather than take unilateral military action.

“In the case of Venezuela, Trump and his foreign policy team (including Sen. Marco Rubio, who has clearly been one of the strategy’s masterminds) have shown diplomatic imagination and judiciousness. Their bold support of Juan Guaidó has gained the backing of most countries in Latin America, the Organization of American States, and other crucial voices in the region and elsewhere. They should not ruin it by yielding to that old American temptation: military might.”

“As was the case with Iraq, there is no clear plan for what comes next in a post-Maduro Venezuela in the event of an intervention unsanctioned by international law…

"President Barack Obama recently said that insufficient planning for a post-Gaddafi Libya was his single biggest regret. Although Trump has shown no disposition to learn from his predecessors, the country, the region, and the world would undoubtedly benefit if he took a lesson from Bush and Obama in this instance, particularly given the distinct possibility that any conflict in Venezuela would spill over into neighboring Brazil, or already-unstable Colombia.”
New Republic

“Unless the lives of Americans are endangered and there is no other recourse, military intervention would be folly. A U.S. boycott of Venezuelan oil could endanger ordinary Venezuelans already coping with critical shortages of food, power and medicine. As it is, a mass exodus of desperate refugees threatens to destabilize several of Venezuela’s neighbors… The administration’s best approach would be to join with its allies in initiatives that would help Venezuelans while bolstering Mr. Guaidó.”
Washington Post

This is not Washington’s battle. This is the Venezuelan people’s struggle. Their neighbors, as a unified bloc, should stand firmly in support, leading the international response... The United States remains the world’s most powerful country, with the ability to greatly influence the course of events, but it should play a supporting role, lending its voice to a regional chorus of democracy, acting for once as a humble superpower.”
Washington Post

“The confrontation of two presidents raised terrifying prospects of carnage, especially should the military stand by Mr. Maduro… What is indisputable at this tense moment is that Mr. Maduro’s misrule has become intolerable and that he must go. A formidable array of countries have recognized a fresh young leader. It is now their duty to do everything in their power to persuade Mr. Maduro, if necessary by guaranteeing him haven, that his final act must be a peaceful exit.”
New York Times

Many argue that in the end, “it's the military that will decide the fate of Nicolás Maduro’s presidency… Winning over the military will require patience and sophisticated and discreet negotiations… For many, an amnesty for the military will be a bitter pill to swallow. The crimes committed have been monumental and there is understandably a demand for full accountability. This delicate question risks dividing the opposition, and acceptance of Mr. Guaidó’s leadership will be essential. Venezuela should expect some tension between full justice and desirable political change.”
New York Times

Others argue that “Biden was almost the only one on the stage who talked like a normal person. There was a point near the end of the debate when he was talking about getting men involved in stopping domestic violence and he said that we need to keep ‘punching’ at it… I knew that the twitterati and the analysts would tut tut. Ol’ Joe is just out of touch! He doesn’t know you can’t use words like that. Meanwhile, every non-political junkie watching the debate thought there was nothing wrong with this. Biden was just using ordinary language, not worrying too much if it was fully approved by the woke brigade.”
Kevin Drum, Mother Jones

From the Right

The right supports stronger sanctions and other measures to pressure Maduro, but is divided about whether military intervention is advisable.

From the Right

The right supports stronger sanctions and other measures to pressure Maduro, but is divided about whether military intervention is advisable.

“When it comes to challenging the moral disgrace that is socialist Venezuela, Trump's record is unequivocally stellar… The Trump administration should work with its allies, especially Brazil and Colombia, to impose a wide-ranging oil embargo on Venezuelan oil exports. Trump should also confront nations such as China, Russia, and Spain, which support Maduro's evil. Nevertheless, this is a good step that will send shivers down the spines of Maduro's cronies. America has put them on notice.”
Washington Examiner

“U.S. policymakers have long had a dilemma: refrain from helping forces such as those arrayed against Maduro’s regime, leaving them to their own devices; or help them and see them labeled CIA stooges. ‘They’re going to call them CIA stooges anyway,’ Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen once said, in the context of Cuba. ‘We might as well help them.’ That applies to Venezuela, now. The United States should give all the support it can to Juan Guaidó and the movement he leads.”
National Review

One advocate of military intervention notes that “according to the Venezuelan Society of Pediatrics and Childcare, 80 percent of children under 5 years of age are in some state of malnutrition… 328,000 Venezuelans die every year because of lack of medicines… Out of 23 million Venezuelans, 4.5 million are eating one meal per day or less, and more than 3 million eat from the garbage…

“With Maduro refusing humanitarian aid from other countries while at the same time strangling his own people, it is clear that he must be removed from power. As a physician, I am generally a pacifist. But in this case, observing the status quo could lead to millions more deaths. International military intervention may be necessary to save lives.”
Fox News

“[Neighboring] states and the United States should plan to deliver humanitarian assistance the moment President Guaidó and the National Assembly authorize such operations on Venezuelan territory…

They should warn the [Maduro] regime of dire consequences if it uses violence against Guaidó or other innocent civilians… Venezuela’s friends in the international community must be prepared to act boldly to defend their principles. After a decade of irresolute leadership, the United States is squarely on the side of the Venezuelan people.”
American Enterprise Institute

Those against military intervention counter that “absolutely no U.S. interests would be served by a Venezuelan war, and it would rank as one of the stupidest wars of choice that the U.S. has ever fought. It goes without saying that it would be illegal. Venezuela is an economic basketcase and a humanitarian crisis, but its government poses no threat to the U.S. and who governs the country is not a matter of vital importance to us…

“[Moreover] regime change wars rarely work out as their supporters expect, and they are always more costly for the U.S. and the other country than anyone anticipates. Even when the regime is successfully toppled, the ensuing chaos and violence can do enormous harm to the civilian population. If Trump were to order an invasion of Venezuela, it would be the beginning of a long-term commitment of a large number of troops in a country where they aren’t wanted.”
The American Conservative

“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

Others note, “I’d hate to be a Democratic member of Congress trying to convince Joe Sixpack that this is a whole new ballgame. The transcript shows Trump being Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky trying to ingratiate himself with the big dog by, for instance, mentioning that he stays at Trump hotels. Trump’s conversation is typically scattershot, wandering all over the field, leaving a reasonable listener puzzled about what the takeaways are supposed to be…

“I think Joe Sixpack’s response is going to be a hearty shrug. After all that has emerged about Trump so far, his approval rating is closely tracking Obama’s approval at the same point in his presidency. To get Mr. Sixpack’s attention you are going to have to do better than this.”
Kyle Smith, National Review

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

“After adding in the ultra-millionaire’s tax and factoring in the other capital taxes Warren wants to levy — on financial transactions, on unrealized capital gains, on corporations — we’d be asking every billionaire to hand over more than two-thirds of their total wealth over a 10-year period. If the government actually managed to collect it, their fortunes would rapidly erode — and so would tax collections. The plan might be a good way to smash wealth, but it’s a terrible way to fund the nation’s health-care system…

“If Warren makes it to the White House, and tries to pass a plan, the Congressional Budget Office will eventually attach more reasonable numbers, with more defensible assumptions, sparking an even more spectacular political blowback than the one that greeted Friday’s announcement. Outside of the progressive Twitterati, there isn’t necessarily an enormous constituency for spending $20.5 trillion to herd every American into a national health insurance program; there would be even less support for spending what Warren’s plan would actually cost.”
Megan McArdle, Washington Post

On the bright side...

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