I certainly will not mourn any ill fate that befalls on the political career of Nicolas Maduro. The man is a tyrant like his predecessor Hugo Chavez before him, if not worse.
The situation in Venezuela is one that we on the right easily unite on, regardless of whether you lean more to the centre or further out on the wings. We all enjoy a good “I told you so” moment, especially where the likes of Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell, Dianne Abbott and Owen Jones are concerned. It has just been a couple of years since Corbyn and his friends sang praises of Venezuela and its leaders. “Socialism in action” the Shadow Chancellor called it back in 2014 – he technically wasn’t wrong was he?
In recent years however, Corbyn has fallen almost deafly silent on Venezuela. Almost like those moments back at school when you would confidently shout out an answer in class for the teacher to just tell you how plain wrong you are in front of everyone – basically how every Socialist approaches Socialism, although it’s very difficult for them not to own this one.
I’m very happy with the idea of a nation’s populace being able to freely assemble when needed to stand up to those in charge. No nation in the history of earth has ever just been given their freedom. Freedom is defined by a roll call of the names of every man and woman in history who put everything on the line for something better than themselves, for those they never expected to hear so much as a thank you from. I’m of the belief that we should condemn the totalitarianism and power grab of Nicolas Maduro where the oppression of his people is taking place plain for the world stage to see. We should show complete solidarity with the Venezuelan people in their struggle. Even as someone who believes in limiting foreign aid this is an area I feel we should make an exception – we ought to provide supplies for the people starving at the hands of Socialism.
However, here’s where I’m going to upset a few folk. The right needs to tread carefully in how our attitude to Venezuela is approached. I’m not even arguing this from my anti-interventionist foreign policy anymore. I’m arguing this from sheer practicality. Sure, a man who is currently starving and gunning down his own people does not belong in high office in his country and absolutely should go. It looks like his days are numbered regardless. But I do not believe the motives of the men behind the foreign policy establishment remain moral – including many of the people still advising President Trump and at our Foreign Office here in the UK.
Many of the people still in these Departments of Government are the same people who gave terrible advice to the likes of Barrack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and David Cameron during the Libyan crisis. President Trump, followed by many governments including the UK, has taken the decision to declare Maduro’s reign of tyranny illegitimate. Although I personally am unhappy with the idea of any world leader feeling they have the single-handed power to recognise and delegitimise another’s with the stroke of a pen, it doesn’t change my perspective that Maduro is a tyrant who should be thrown out of office by his people. It’s simply my personal philosophy on national sovereignty and foreign policy that determines this outlook, and I wouldn’t feel principled if I didn’t apply it indiscriminately. But as I mentioned earlier, my own philosophy isn’t what this article’s about. It’s an article about practicality.
President Trump and Jeremy Hunt have made their decision and it doesn’t look like they are going to renege on it. I recognise that’s done and dusted so let’s move on to the next important point. According to CNBC, the US State Department, due to Trump’s decision to recognise a new President in opposition to Nicolas Maduro, has taken the stance that because of these events they don’t have to agree to Maduro’s demands for severing diplomatic ties and removal of US diplomats from the country. This is where I sincerely hope the President uses his executive power to overrule his department and the advisors responsible for this claim. While technically true that they aren’t obliged to obey Maduro’s commands if he’s no longer President, it doesn’t change the fact he still holds enough power to gun down huge crowds of protesters; and by and large could easily do the same to US Diplomats.
Does that remind you of anything? Bring it back to my point on Libya, the Benghazi attack. The controversy that followed can easily be determined as one of the biggest political failures in recent foreign policy history. The deaths of 4 Americans led to billions of taxpayer dollars and over two years of investigations. It could easily be argued to have sealed Hillary Clinton’s fate in the 2016 election loss. Anyone who watched those committee hearings of Trey Gowdy grilling Hillary Clinton can easily see why Donald Trump considered him for the role of Attorney General at a time when the Trump campaign was chanting “lock her up”.
Coincidentally, someone else who sat on that committee is someone who now holds Hillary’s old title of Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo. He also took a few shots at Hillary Clinton with regards to her failure to adequately protect the US Mission in Benghazi. Yet today his Department is now stating they don’t recognise the order for removal of US Diplomats in Caracas. I think that’s a naïve move. The title Maduro holds doesn’t determine what lengths he will go to for power. If this man can starve and gun down his own people, what makes you think anyone is safe from Socialist tyranny in that country?
The idea that a Democratic controlled House, so insistent on removing Trump and his cabinet from office will not hold him to the same standard or even a tougher standard that House Republicans did for the Obama administration for anything that goes wrong in Venezuela on his watch would also be naïve.
This is why I’ve always favoured an incremental approach to foreign policy. Although like the overwhelming majority I recognise the need for Maduro’s reign of Socialist terror to come to an end. I don’t believe the people making the decisions and giving the advice behind the scenes have the best of intentions either. I hope Donald Trump doesn’t fall into the same trap Hillary Clinton did at a time when we all were glad of her being held to account, a time when his campaign was cheering for the damage it did to her reputation. Trump has historically had a good reputation for his outlook on foreign policy. With Libya now a breeding ground for terrorism and slave markets thanks to a failed regime change there on Obama, Clinton, and sadly also David Cameron’s watch, it is vital that Venezuela doesn’t become Trump’s Libya and his ultimate downfall.