It is pretty clear to me from a distance and with minimal insight that the overthrow of the Maduro regime in Venezuela, thought by many to be imminent a few months ago, has become a very remote proposition. It seems that everyone who can leave has already left. So what next? Do we simply continue to starve the populace with sanctions and deal with the refugee problem with humanitarian relief efforts? President Trump evidently has no plans to invade militarily and appears to want to continue the current effort of non-violent support while recruiting Venezuelan military leaders to switch sides, but this doesn’t seem to be working very well and seems at best to be a long-term proposition of attrition.
Mary Anastasia O’Grady of The Wall Street Journal has written about the crisis there regularly and with insight. It is clear to her that the Maduro “mafia”, as called by Admiral Craig Fuller of the U. S. Southern Command, will need to be forcibly removed, but the real battle will be with the Cuba-Russia-Iran axis whose direct involvement as street thugs and by proxy is in control of the country. And she makes a good argument for significantly stepping up U. S. support of the regime’s opponents without sending in U. S. troops, which she believes can be accomplished in a way that is consistent with the Rio Treaty that obliges the signatories to assist their neighbors when there is a threat by a foreign power.
I’m certainly not an expert on the Rio Treaty, but this is about much more than the future of Venezuela per se; it appears to me that the situation clearly represents an offensive intervention and occupation in this hemisphere by our adversaries and that Venezuela is a proxy propped up by powers with which, as Admiral Fuller acknowledged in a recent speech, we are already engaged on various fronts in this region and other parts of the world.