Pat Buchanan: Let Venezuela decide its own destiny
“Who would be free themselves must strike the blow …
“By their right arms the conquest must be wrought.”
So wrote Lord Byron of Greece’s war of independence against the Turks, though the famed British poet would ignore his own counsel and die just days after arriving in Greece to join the struggle.
Yet Byron’s advice is the wise course for the United States, and for the people of Venezuela who seek to free their country of the grip of the incompetent and dictatorial regime of Nicolas Maduro.
Let the Venezuelans decide their own destiny, as did we.
Caracas seems to be in something of a standoff.
Opposition leader Juan Guaido, recognized by the U.S. and 50 other nations as president, has failed to persuade the army to abandon Maduro. Yet he can still muster larger crowds in the streets of Caracas to demand the ouster of Maduro than Maduro can call out to stand by his regime.
Last Tuesday and Wednesday, Guaido announced that the regime’s final hour was at hand. But by midweek, the army’s leaders still stood with Maduro.
The Trump administration has backed Guaido, only to see him fail twice now at taking power.
The White House backed the plan in February to breach Venezuela’s borders with truckloads of food and medicine, counting on the army not to use force to block the trucks.
But Guaido and the Americans miscalculated. The army stood by Maduro. The trucks were kept out.
Last week, when Guaido called out the crowds again to bring the strongman down, the White House went all in. President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton all tweeted support for the uprising.
But by Thursday, it was again clear that no matter what Washington had been told and anticipated, the army remained loyal to Maduro.
Frustrated, exasperated, appearing at once bellicose and impotent, Washington has now begun to bluster about military intervention.
“The brutal repression of the Venezuelan people must end, and it must end soon,” said Trump. “People are starving. They have no food; they have no water. And this was once one of the wealthiest countries in the world.”
Yet Trump is reportedly reluctant to intervene. Let us hope that his anti-interventionist impulses guide his decisions. Venezuela’s future is not ours to decide.
This civil conflict is not our war. We have not been attacked. Not only is there no justification for U.S. military intervention, but also any arrival of U.S. troops on Venezuelan soil could turn into yet another 21st-century strategic debacle.
There could be again Americans killing and dying in a country where no vital interest was imperiled.
There are no massive human rights violations going on in Venezuela to justify military intervention. Troops are not firing indiscriminately on protestors.
The Venezuelan economy, one of the richest in the hemisphere, is now in shambles. Some 3 million people, 1 in every 10 Venezuelans, have fled the disaster that Maduro and his mentor Hugo Chavez created.
It is difficult to foresee any turnaround the Maduro regime can execute to revive the economy or prevent the continued exodus of its people.
Venezuela’s situation is not sustainable. Let the fate of the Marxist Socialist regime of Nicolas Maduro be decided by the people of Venezuela.
Pat Buchanan is author of “Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever.”