So this Venezuela thing is starting to move toward a point of no return as President Trump’s own advisors seek to box him in and force military action in Venezuela.
Both Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton made statements Wednesday that put U.S. credibility on the line, saying military force would be used if necessary. They both went beyond the “all options are on the table” formulation they previously have been using.
According to the Washington Post:
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that a peaceful resolution was still desired but that “military action is possible. If that’s what’s required, that’s what the United States will do,” he told Fox Business Network.
Asked if the U.S. military would be used to protect Guaidó, White House national security adviser John Bolton told MSNBC that President Trump “has been clear and concise on this point: All options are open. We want a peaceful transfer of power. But we are not going to see Guaidó mistreated by this regime.”
This is what’s known in technical, foreign policy language as a BAD IDEA. Venezuela is a problem, but the U.S. military is already over-extended with obligations and the need to be ready to face true enemies like Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, and various Islamists. WE HAVE TO CHOOSE OUR FIGHTS. Great nations of the past have fallen when they tried to do too much.
The military, and Trump, are unconvinced they we need to send in troops. But they are being dragged into a conflict, and Trump needs to rein in Pompeo and Bolton if he doesn’t want to invade Venezuela.
Top Pentagon officials emphasized nonmilitary options and said they had not been given orders to pre-position troops or prepare for conflict. “We’re obviously watching the situation very closely in Venezuela. The president’s made it clear that all options are on the table,” Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in congressional testimony. “To date, most of our actions have been diplomatic and economic.”
Trump has shown little willingness to plunge into Venezuela, according to current and former aides, although he has already imposed sanctions on Cuba — which the administration has accused of controlling the Venezuelan military — and threatened more. Russia, the White House said in a statement late Wednesday, “must leave” Venezuela “and renounce their support of the Maduro regime.”
The president has occasionally mused to others that Bolton wants to get him into wars. Two advisers who have discussed Venezuela with him said Trump often brings up Florida politics, and his golf club in Doral, when talking about the subject. Both said Trump was unlikely to authorize any sort of long-term military action there.
At the same time, however, aides said he has given Bolton wide purview over Venezuela.
As he has pushed for a more aggressive policy, Bolton has angered some within and outside the White House. Even before Tuesday’s events, his staff clashed with Gen. Paul Selva, Dunford’s vice chairman, during a meeting to address the ongoing Venezuelan crisis, according to several officials with knowledge of the exchange.
Trump has to make some decisions. Once we get into Venezuela, the extent to which we will have to escalate is completely unpredictable. China and Russia will be all too happy to bog us down there.
The situation is tragic, but we cannot save everyone. The Venezuelans chose the people who now oppress them. Socialism has repeatedly been shown to lead to tragedy, despite what some leading Democratic presidential hopefuls are telling you.
Of course, still, the Venezuelans don’t deserve this fate. But we, and our brave young men and women, don’t deserve to be pulled into it either.