The War Party in Washington, D.C. is demanding yet another American-led “humanitarian” military intervention, this time in Syria. Yet, for all of their virtue signaling against the evil of Bashar Assad (and he’s certainly not a good guy), there is a shocking degree of silence about the collapsing totalitarian, rogue regime to our south, in Venezuela.
Last year, I cautioned President Trump not to get distracted with Venezuela as he was attempting to normalize relations with North Korea. However, things in Venezuela are getting much worse than they were last year (and, oddly enough, there is some hope that the situation with North Korea is improving).
At the moment, Venezuela’s currency is at 8,900 percent inflation. People are starving; there are record-numbers of unemployed; the government is cracking down on dissidents at alarming rates; the military, for its part, is subsidizing its functions through drug trafficking; and Iran, China, and Russia are taking advantage of the chaos —at our expense. As Venezuela teeters on the brink, the instability it creates is not isolated within its borders.
For all of the concern about Mideast instability threatening Europe’s political order, few in Washington appear worried about how instability in Latin America will negatively impact the political order of the United States. In fact, many in Washington appear to be championing the disruption of America’s political order!
Think about it: whereas Europe and the United States are both separated by a large ocean, Latin America is connected to the United States by land. As we’ve seen, the United States’ southern border is woefully undefended. It isn’t just migrants from Mexico that illegally seek entry into the southwestern United States, it is also thousands of people fleeing the instability of Central and South America. Despite the Trump Administration’s recent claim that they convinced the Mexican government to stop a train full of Central American refugees from transiting through Mexico into the United States, the bulk of those refugees are still headed toward our southwestern border (albeit in smaller groups).
With Venezuela imploding, there is already a massive refugee crisis brewing with its neighbor (and long-time American ally) Colombia. Brazil, which is currently undergoing a severe economic downturn, as well as its own destabilizing political chaos, is further threatened by the Venezuelan crisis. If left unchecked, the Venezuelan crisis could lead to renewed regional fighting, instability, and mass migration toward the United States.
And, the longer that the situation in Venezuela deteriorates, the more that Russia, Iran, and China will intervene in this vulnerable part of the world which also happens to be close to America’s borders. In 2015, the Russian Federation inked a major energy deal with Venezuela’s state-run energy company, PDVSA. In recent years, Russia has used Venezuela as a place to land its nuclear-capable Tu-160 “Blackjack” bombers, and to conduct joint military training. The Chinese government continues pouring money into the Maduro Regime, so long as it serves as a geopolitical bulwark against the United States in Latin America. Meanwhile, Iran—which co-founded the “aeroterror express” with former Venezuelan strongman, Hugo Chavez, and current Syrian strongman, Bashar al-Assad—continues pouring Hezbollah fighters into the country (and the surrounding region). Venezuela’s vice-president is Lebanese, with deep ties to Hezbollah as well. Also, the Cuban military is operating in support of the Maduro Regime in Venezuela, a development that is not in our interest.
From its perch in Venezuela, Iran has created a massive hub for its military wherein it potentially and directly could threaten the physical security of the United States. Iran might place medium-range ballistic missiles in the area, or send Hezbollah terrorists up through our broken southwestern border. They certainly might try to destabilize Venezuela’s neighbors. As tensions between the United States and Iran increase, you can be certain that Iran will increasingly rely on its position in Latin America to complicate American foreign policy in the Middle East.
The solution is to organize a massive regional response to the Venezuelan crisis. Countries like Colombia, Peru, and Brazil are all interested in mitigating Venezuela’s collapse. The Trump Administration must head a regional coalition that would aim to ameliorate the suffering of the Venezuelan people, while putting pressure on the regime in Caracas. Venezuela, more than Syria, is where a limited, American-led humanitarian intervention of regional powers should occur. The longer that the Trump Administration ignores the Venezuelan crisis, the more time America’s enemies have to harden their positions in our part of the world—which could directly threaten the United States.
The Monroe Doctrine is as applicable today as it was in 1823. It is simply strategic malpractice for American leaders to allow hostile foreign actors, like Russia, Iran, and China to continue destabilizing our hemisphere.
Photo credit: YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images