The only way the beleaguered Venezuelan president can shore up his position is if Trump blunders in
By Simon Jenkins
One thing alone could save the Maduro regime in Venezuela. That is western intervention. Nothing unites a country like a sovereign enemy on its borders. Venezuelans may hate their president, Nicolás Maduro, but they also hate the US. China may be exasperated, but it is Maduro’s ally, and would have to help him if the US attacked. So the US, and everyone else, should leave Venezuela alone. Unintended consequences of outside intervention scream down the ages. Only Donald Trump seems deaf.
Those who know and love Venezuela have watched the 20 years of Chávez-Maduro with pain. Never has a rich oil economy, in the east or the west, been so completely raped by a kleptocracy masquerading as an ideology. Never has socialism been so tested to destruction. It is no one else’s fault. Venezuela has had ample aid from Russia and China. It was a (relatively) peaceful and prosperous country before Hugo Chávez. He and his successor wrecked it. That they should have been backed by Lenin’s “useful idiots” in Britain’s Labour party is stupefying.
Now those Venezuelans who have not fled the chaos are facing the dreadful moment of having to topple their own government. This primarily means persuading their army to help them. Outsiders can pledge moral support to the opposition leader, Juan Guaidó. But this week’s deadlines, sanctions and bloodcurdling threats from the US are counterproductive. They are manna from heaven to an embattled regime. They portray opposition as the agent of an alien power. They turn dissent into treason. They call armies to the colours, and smother mutiny in a blanket of patriotism.
Since the collapse of United Nations authority, interfering in other countries’ affairs has become a default mode of neo-imperialist democracy. In just two years, Trump has pretended to rule Iran, North Korea, China, Mexico and now Venezuela. None poses any threat to US security. Since Tony Blair came to power, Britain has likewise found paltry excuses to attack Serbia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. It has imposed economic sanctions on Russia, Iran and Myanmar. The gain to British security or world peace is utterly obscure. The cost in lives, money and misery has been incalculable. Intervention has become the occupational disease of the new populism.
The urge to help those in need is natural. Doing nothing can be painful and seem callous. But doing something rarely helps. Even states in political distress are sovereign. They must make and correct their own mistakes, and will be strengthened in doing so. The regime in Caracas faces possibly terminal domestic pressure. Outside intervention is its one best hope.
How would we react if Maduro told us how to handle our Brexit mess, or Trump offered to build a wall down the Irish border? – The Guardian.
Simon Jenkins is a Guardian columnist