Friday, February 01, 2019

What is Intervention in Venezuela?

Patrick Iber has an op-ed in The New York Times arguing the United States should not intervene in Venezuela. This made me start thinking what we mean by this. We hear it broadly--the US should not intervene or interfere. Sometimes I feel this refers specifically to invasion, which is much more unpopular than other types of intervention. But that's easy to oppose. The fine details get tougher.

So what U.S. "intervention" is going on now?

  • recognition of Juan Guaidó
  • pressure on other governments to do the same
  • sanctions
  • pressure on other governments to spread those sanctions
  • threatening rhetoric
  • fake to-do list of sending troops
When people say they oppose U.S. intervention, do they oppose all of these things? If not, why not?
Washington is all too ready to lend a hand, but in doing so it could — as it has so many times in Latin America’s history — cause more harm than good.
What types of intervention cause more harm than good? This is not clear to me at all. Further, what is "harm" anyway? Harm could refer to the suffering of Venezuelan people, in which case oil sanctions might apply. But harm could also mean "action that reduces the incentive for military officers to switch their allegiance," in which case we don't know.

Overall, there is confusion within the U.S. left. James Bloodworth noted this in a recent Foreign Policy article. Some people support Maduro out of a knee-jerk ideological reaction while others see how authoritarian and destructive he has been, but don't know what to support in his place and--critically--what role the United States should play. There is no way the U.S. plays zero role.

In sum, the U.S. is currently intervening in a number of different consequential ways, though not yet invasion. It is worth it for all of us to ponder what level of intervention we support and to think hard about what the long-term impact of such intervention might be. For me, recognizing Guaidó is reasonable, as Maduro's claim to legitimacy is no stronger. I think oil sanctions hurt the Venezuelan people too much and that pressure can be applied in other ways. I think U.S. officials should stop with the blustery invasion talk. My own views might change but that is where I am leaning now.


shah8 12:08 PM  

I think there is a broader issue in the sense that we should recognize that genuinely productive engagement and encouragement towards a transition should have happened around 2013-2016.

At this juncture, there isn't really much more that can be said besides how to arrange the rubble, and I strongly suspect that the US is fine with a collapsed state, with Libya as the example. Sure oil export can be iffy, but what exports do happens, benefits external actors to a large degree.

Of course, I also expect a murderous anti-American backlash in the region, eventually.

Greg Weeks 1:43 PM  

Complicated issue obviously, but it is only very recently that the opposition unified enough to even make this possible. Previously, the government had no incentive to change because it faced no threat.

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP