Home/Daniel Larison/The Venezuela Blunder Puts U.S. Diplomats at Risk

The Venezuela Blunder Puts U.S. Diplomats at Risk

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

The Trump administration’s Venezuela blunder just got worse:

No matter what one thinks about the decision to recognize Venezuela’s opposition leader as president, this response from Pompeo is reckless in the extreme. It’s all very well to say that Maduro has no legal authority to do things, but as long as he retains the loyalty of the military and security forces he has de facto control of the country. Keeping U.S. diplomats in a country where our government has just declared the current leadership to be illegitimate puts them at great risk for no good reason. The Trump administration has just poked Maduro and his allies in the eye and sided with his domestic opponents, and when Maduro reacts to the provocation they seriously think that he is going to be bound by what our government considers his legal authority? They can’t possibly be that naive, so we have to assume that they are trying to create a crisis that will give them a pretext for more interference and possibly even direct intervention. I have a sinking feeling that no one in the government has given a moment’s thought to what happens next if things start to go awry, and I have no confidence in the judgment of any of the people pushing this impetuous Venezuela policy.

The administration’s Venezuela policy is notable for being one of its most hawkish and one of the least noticed parts of its foreign policy. Marco Rubio and his allies have been able to craft a very aggressive policy with minimal scrutiny and debate, and for whatever reason Trump has embraced that policy every step of the way. Members of Congress need to start paying attention and they have to make clear that the president has no authority to order military action against anyone in Venezuela. They also need to demand answers from the administration about the process that led to the irresponsible decision to recognize the head of the National Assembly as the new president.

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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