National Security Adviser John Bolton leaked a note to the press yesterday that someone in the White House is considering sending 5,000 troops to Colombia in preparation for a military presence that could be used against Venezuela’s disputed President Nicolas Maduro. Most are calling it a slip. I’m calling it an intentional hint.
Regardless of what prompted the reveal, let’s not do this. If it’s a bluff, so be it. Play your games. It may work. But if the White House and/or the Pentagon are seriously considering getting involved militarily in Venezuela, they need to erase that notion from their minds. We don’t belong there. Our troops don’t belong there.
I praised the President for taking the proper step of recognizing the appropriate leader of the impoverished nation, Juan Guaidó. But that should be the extent of our involvement until they get this worked out on their own. The last thing we need to do is start sticking our guns where they don’t belong.
We have plenty of problems in the United States to take care of without getting involved in another proxy war. That’s what this would be with China and Russia backing Maduro and most other nations backing Guaidó. But neither China nor Russia would get involved militarily on Maduro’s behalf, so the United States shouldn’t get involved, either. Otherwise, we’re daring our economic adversaries to play a more vibrant role in the conflict, potentially even a military one.
But it’s deeper than that. This is a moment in which the United States can make a bold declaration with our absence. After decades of involvement in situations that allegedly called for “humanitarian” action, we had a hard time defending our actions as nothing more than plays to keep the global oil markets stable. This would be no different as the oil exports of Venezuela are the last thing keeping the nation from absolute financial breakdown. Some would say they’re already there, but the valueless state of their economy hasn’t quite hit rock bottom. Almost, but not quite.
A military move would reinforce the world’s perception that we’re willing to get involved any time oil is at stake. That may not even be true this time, but the perception will remain. They’ll ask why we choose to get involved in this crisis will ignoring Bangladesh, Congo, and other nations in turmoil.
There will be those who say they really don’t care what the world thinks about us, and for the most part I agree. But when it comes to military actions that have absolutely nothing to do with defending our nation, allies, or interests, we really should care about perceptions. The world hates us enough for irrational or false reasons. There’s no need to add valid reasons to the list.
One does not have to be a non-interventionist or isolationist to realize we have zero business putting troops in or near Venezuela. We can support them through trade and help them rebuild their nation via capitalism, but the military isn’t needed there.