President Trump is demonstrating his mastery of the levers of national power by imposing billions of dollars worth of sanctions against Venezuela’s state-run oil company, PDVSA. These sanctions, announced on Monday, will cut off Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro’s main source of cash, which he uses to prop up his regime and maintain a stranglehold on the Venezuelan people.
The ultimate goal is for opposition leader Juan Guaido to peaceably assume the helm and begin to steer Venezuela toward democratic and capitalist reforms. Last week, Guaido, the 35-year-old National Assembly leader, declared himself interim president – a move backed by the Trump administration and subsequently many other democracies.
Supporting Venezuelan reform is important not only because it is the right thing to do for the Venezuelan people, but also because Iran, Hezbollah and Russia have established a foothold in the socialist country. This terrorist nexus threatens the Western Hemisphere in general, and the United States specifically.
Refugees, terror planning havens, document forgery, human trafficking and narco-terrorism are all byproducts of a lawless and bankrupt Venezuela. As the country spirals out of control, the Trump administration is using several elements of national power – diplomatic, informational, military and economic – to influence the situation and support the popular uprising.
Both the president and his national security adviser John Bolton have asserted that all options are being considered for confronting the Venezuelan crisis, and they are right to include a military option. Let’s not forget that when the U.S. was negotiating with North Korea and imposing sanctions, conducting information operations, and applying diplomatic pressure, it was the threat of military force that ultimately brought Kim Jong Un to the table.
Likewise, the same will be true in Venezuela. There, like in many South American dictatorships over the years, where the military goes, so goes the power. If the Venezuelan military supports Maduro, the rebellion will be crushed. However, with the threat of U.S. military force on the horizon and just a short flight and drop zone away, it will be reconsidering its options of supporting either the Russian and Iranian-backed Maduro, or the U.S. and free world-backed Guaido.
Weaving together the socialist meltdown, the humanitarian crisis, the terror footprint, and the now persistent migrant caravans pressing against the United States’ southern border, the Venezuelan crisis is a matter of American national security.
President Trump’s leadership on this issue has of course gone unmentioned by the mainstream media, and the outcome is uncertain. But the Trump administration is applying all of the right levers to achieve a favorable result for the people of Venezuela and the national security of the United States.