Jul 21, 4:47 PM |
By Peter Schechter
Writing in The Hill, Altamar co-host Peter Schechter argues that there are many valid reasons for someone to step up and intervene in Venezuela’s crisis – but that someone should not be Donald Trump.
There are two main reasons for the administration to act; one good and one bad. First, Venezuelans need a champion. Their country is coming apart at the seams thanks to a government that is increasingly off-kilter and extreme. Second, with special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation accelerating and an uncertain future for Trump’s domestic agenda after the Senate’s healthcare failure, a muscular foreign policy initiative to focus the country’s attention elsewhere could look politically attractive. (…)
Here, we enter dangerous ground. While the national security and humanitarian reasons for tougher policies against Venezuela are enticing, President Trump would do well to move forward with his eyes wide open.
Oil sector sanctions would cripple the country, worsening the already grave humanitarian conditions. Any actions, whether prohibiting Venezuelan oil imports or freezing Venezuelan-owned CITGO gas stations, would ratchet up the suffering. We would likely have to accompany sanctions with covert or overt humanitarian intervention.
All this would provoke an outsized — and probably mistaken — response from Caracas. Erroneously believing that the Americans would never engage militarily, the Venezuelan government could lash out at U.S. interests to show its still-existing muscle.
Peter Schechter works in both politics and policy. He served as the Atlantic Council’s senior vice president for strategic initiatives and previously co-founded a premier strategic communications company, working as a political campaign advisor in more than 20 countries. Muni Jensen is a former Colombian diplomat, columnist, and television political commentator.