Home/Daniel Larison/Backing a Coup in Venezuela Would Be a Mistake

Backing a Coup in Venezuela Would Be a Mistake

Venezuelan dictator Nicholas Maduro is an evil man, but President Trump has no business threatening him with military action (Marcos Salgado/Shutterstock)

Jose Cardenas urges the U.S. and other governments in the region to encourage a military coup in Venezuela:

That leaves the United States and democracy’s allies abroad to convince those uncorrupted elements of the Venezuelan military that they bear a unique responsibility to rescue their country from the abyss, uphold constitutional order, fulfill their oaths to defend the lives of every Venezuelan, and open a path to their country’s political, economic, and social reconstruction.

Certainly, expecting a faction of the military to depose the current regime and restore democracy entails risk — but it is a measure of the desperate straits in which Venezuela finds itself.Certainly, expecting a faction of the military to depose the current regime and restore democracy entails risk — but it is a measure of the desperate straits in which Venezuela finds itself.

There is no question that Maduro and his allies have driven Venezuela into a ditch, and both Chavez and Maduro have governed Venezuela with disastrous results over the last 16 years. Granting all that, it seems to me to be a terrible mistake to urge the military overthrow of the Venezuelan government. A coup runs the risk of considerable bloodshed and possibly even civil war, which will only compound Venezuela’s very serious economic and political problems. A post-coup government would not be recognized or accepted by most other regional governments. Insofar as any coup is perceived to be backed by the U.S. or the product of U.S. encouragement, it is likely to run into broad popular resistance. Following Trump’s ill-advised and half-baked threats of military intervention last year, talk of backing a coup makes the same mistake Trump made in suggesting that a violent change of government is an acceptable solution to Venezuela’s political turmoil.

The U.S. acquiesced in a coup in Egypt, and it has led to the creation of a much more repressive dictatorship than the governments that preceded it. Backing a coup in Venezuela runs the risk of putting even more lives in danger out of a desire for regime change. The U.S. has too often indulged and supported military coups in our own hemisphere for dubious and self-serving reasons, and it is a habit that our government should not resume if there is any chance of pursuing another option.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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