The Trump administration is preparing a new barrage of sanctions on Cuba and Russia according to statements that Elliot Abrams, the U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela, made to the Washington Free Beacon.
According to Abrams, the U.S. is still not discarding military options should strongman Nicolas Maduro refuse to step down. Venezuela reached a new point of escalation on April 30, 2019, when Interim President Juan Guaido launched Operacion Libertad (Operation Freedom), a failed uprising against Maduro’s government.
Guaido is recognized by the U.S. government and various members of the international community as the legitimate leader of Venezuela. On the other hand, Maduro’s government is supported by countries such as China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Russia. The neoconservative diplomat told the Free Beacon that more sanctions are likely coming.
This is based on the growing influence China, Cuba, Iran, and Russia have had on Venezuela in the last decade. Cuban and Russia are targeted in particular due to their military and logistical support in propping up Maduro’s regime. Abrams said that “We will have more sanctions” with regards to Venezuela and its Cuban and Russian backers.
Right after the uprising, Trump even threatened Cuba with an embargo and “the highest level” sanctions. Although what’s happening in Venezuela is terrible, the U.S. should stay out of the way. The U.S. government can recognize Guaido if it wants, but it should stop there. When we look at the bigger picture, China, Iran, and Russia’s presence in Venezuela is a direct response to our presence in the latter two countries’ backyards in the Middle East.
For too long, the U.S. has served the interests of the defense industry, rather than its citizens. This latest saber-rattling in Venezuela is troubling.
Indeed, sanctions may be preferable to outright war, but they have proven to have very little effect in changing the behavior of certain regimes like Cuba and Iran. Instead, the U.S. should focus on a non-interventionist path that puts national defense, not offense, as the main objective for security. In other words, this entails shoring up our cyber-security defenses while maintaining the homeland free of actual threats.
Countries like Venezuela will have to solve their own problems.
However, it does appear that the Maduro regime is losing legitimacy abroad so it could be a matter of time before Maduro is compelled to leave office. Nevertheless, the U.S. should do everything it can to keep boots off the ground.
Certain rogue countries should be kept at arm’s length diplomatically, but we should stop trying to interfere in the affairs of foreign nations, get involved in unnecessary wars, and impose sanctions that only embolden radical regimes. As John Quincy Adams said it best “America… goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all.”
For a President that was elected on an allegedly “America First” platform, Donald Trump should remind Elliott Abrams, John Bolton, and Mike Pompeo that the buck stops with him on all matters of foreign policy.