Home/Daniel Larison/Venezuela Is Not Trump’s ‘First’ Intervention

Venezuela Is Not Trump’s ‘First’ Intervention

The framing of this New York Timesarticle on Trump and Venezuela is all wrong:

Mr. Trump’s forceful challenge to Mr. Maduro is the first such intervention in his anti-interventionist presidency, a sharp departure from an “America First” foreign policy aimed at extracting the United States from overseas quagmires and staying out of the internal affairs of other countries.

The analysis here is wildly misleading. The Trump administration has previously taken a keen interest in meddling in the internal affairs of several countries, including Yemen, Iran, Syria, and Venezuela, and he has publicly threatened to attack most of those countries along with North Korea. The latest decision to recognize the opposition leader as Venezuela’s interim president is an outgrowth of the administration’s consistent hawkish position over the last two years. Let’s remember that Trump has twice illegally ordered attacks on Syrian government forces, he has ordered the illegitimate reimposition of sanctions on Iran in an effort to strangle their economy and foment regime change, and he has continued backing the Saudi coalition war on Yemen, which is a massive interference in Yemen’s affairs with catastrophic humanitarian consequences. To believe that this week marks a “sharp departure” from a previously non-interventionist foreign policy requires ignoring many of Trump’s biggest and most high-profile decisions. On the whole, Trump’s foreign policy to date has not been aimed at “at extracting the United States from overseas quagmires,” but rather sinking deeper into them. Trump escalated every war he inherited, and has pursued more aggressive policies toward Iran and Venezuela than his predecessor did. Almost everything Trump has done or tried to do has led to deeper entanglements in foreign conflicts and crises. This is worse than bad analysis. It is an attempt to misrepresent Trump’s entire record to make the recent Venezuela decision seem more surprising than it is.

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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