Friday, December 14, 2018

Will Bolsonaro Invade Venezuela?

Far right Venezuelan exiles see hope in Jair Bolsonaro and the possibility that he will either invade Venezuela or provide diplomatic cover for a U.S. invasion.
It is unclear how much support Rumbo Libertad enjoys in Venezuela. Henrique Capriles, one of the key leaders of its mainstream opposition, recently dismissed it as part of “a small extremist sect” that was intent on replacing Venezuela’s red dictatorship with one of another hue. Such groups were noisy on social media but did little to help feed starving Venezuelans, Capriles complained. 
But Navarro does appear to have the ear of Brazil’s next president and his influential son, Eduardo, a 34-year-old politician who is positioning himself as Brazil’s answer to Jared Kushner – and recently travelled to the US to meet with Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Steve Bannon.
A few thoughts. First, this is the worst possible solution. It will lead to deaths, suffering, and perhaps even some sort of new dictatorship. I shudder to think of what such a group would do if it actually held power. It would need to use a lot of force to overcome its illegitimacy.

Second, it is highly unlikely Bolsonaro will invade. Yes, he is currently popular but invading other countries is a good way to sour that. Brazil faces a lot of challenges and cannot afford military adventurism. It would be very unpopular in the region to boot and ruin any chance of Bolsonaro being a regional leader. Finally, in the article Harold Trinkunas points out the major military challenges:

“If they imagine that somehow the Brazilian armed forces under the direction of President Bolsonaro are going to change the government in Caracas, it reveals a complete lack of understanding of the military challenges that would present,” he said, pointing to the vast areas of jungle and savanna between Brazil’s northern border and Venezuela’s capital.

Third, it is highly unlikely Trump will invade, for many of the same reasons. It is cliche to invade other countries as a way to distract from domestic problems, and an invasion would immediately be viewed that way. When push comes to shove, Trump dislikes actual conflict--he likes to talk big and then back down, despite John Bolton's "troika of tyranny" stuff.

Could it possibly happen? Well, yes. There are far more reasons not to invade than to do it, but if you combine zealots and policy makers who lack common sense, it is a combustible mix.


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