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Rubio’s Regime Change Misadventure

The last week has been a sobering reminder of why Marco Rubio would have been a horrible president. As it is, he is still having a baleful effect on U.S. foreign policy, and he is one of the top Republicans responsible for the reckless pursuit of regime change in Venezuela. The New York Times begins its report with a fairly ridiculous lede:

His hand chopping in the air, his voice stern and stalwart, he declared that it was time for the regional despot to go and warned of the consequences if he did not. With a commander in chief’s resolve, he vowed that the United States would do whatever it took to protect its own diplomats on the ground.

It was not the commander in chief but Senator Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican who nearly three years after losing his own bid for the presidency has become a lead policy architect and de facto spokesman in a daring and risky campaign involving the United States in the unrest that is now gripping Venezuela.

Another way to put this is that a fanatical ideologue with no regard for the consequences of his actions is helping to plunge the U.S. into the middle of a foreign political crisis that has nothing to do with us. The last two decades have been full of American demands that foreign leaders “go” or surrender, and those demands have typically led to chaos, bloodshed, and massive suffering for the people in the “liberated” country. One might think that our political leaders would have learned to be more cautious and prudent after seeing the terrible costs of U.S.-backed regime change over the last twenty years, but Rubio has learned absolutely nothing. The senator has hardly ever seen a U.S.-led or U.S.-backed intervention that he didn’t want to support. If he criticized the previous administration over one of its intervention, it was because Obama hadn’t gone far enough to satisfy him. Rubio even made a point of faulting Obama for not doing more to support the Saudi coalition in Yemen.

Rubio’s influence over Venezuela policy is a good example of how hawkish interventionists have been able to dominate the Trump administration. Trump is ignorant and easily swayed by advisers that propose “tough”-seeming actions, and Rubio has been happy to provide the suggestions. The president is of course responsible for endorsing Rubio’s awful ideas, but Rubio has been the driving force behind this policy of regime change. Given the senator’s record of terrible foreign policy judgment, we should assume this policy will fail and backfire on the U.S.

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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