Small Wars Journal

U.S. Senate Drafts Plan to Help Restore Democracy to Venezuela

U.S. Senate Drafts Plan to Help Restore Democracy to Venezuela


Voice of America


The U.S. Senate has drafted a plan aimed at helping bring back democracy to Venezuela through economic aid and pushing U.S. allies to impose sanctions on the Maduro regime.


Eight Republicans and seven Democrats are co-sponsors of the Verdad Act — Venezuela Emergency Relief Democracy and Development.


Democrat Bob Menendez of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said the proposal is a bipartisan effort "to put teeth behind our support for the Venezuelan people as they seek to restore democracy and prosperity ... and end the nightmare that has been the Maduro reign of terror."


The act calls for a "peaceful diplomatic solution" in Venezuela while authorizing the Trump administration to spend another $400 million in humanitarian aid.


It also requires the State Department to work with Latin and European allies to impose their own sanctions on the Maduro regime. The U.S. would lift sanctions against Venezuelan officials not accused of human rights abuses if they recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president.


The U.S. would then work with global financial institutions to rebuild the Venezuelan economy after the Maduro regime falls.


Other co-sponsors of the act call Maduro's government "Illegitimate" and a "gang of narco-terrorist thugs holding the Venezuelan people hostage."


The Trump administration announced its own plans for revitalizing the disastrous Venezuelan economy once Maduro is gone, including cash contributions to citizens and food.


Earlier Wednesday, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza accused Guaido of violating the country's constitution and called on the judiciary to take action.


It was Guaido who said, as leader of the Venezuelan National Assembly, he has the constitutional authority to declare Maduro's presidency illegitimate, claiming he won a second term in December through a rigged election.


Lawmakers loyal to Maduro have stripped Guaido of the immunity from prosecution he enjoyed as a member of parliament, putting him at the risk of arrest.


The chief justice of the Venezuelan Supreme Court has said Guaido should be jailed for violating a court-imposed ban on leaving the country. Guaido visited several South American countries last month to seek support for his efforts to force Maduro to step down.


To understand our predicament -- in Venezuela and elsewhere in the world today -- might we start by:

a.  First looking to President Trump's view of such things as political, economic, social and value "equality," "diversity," and "sovereignty" and then:

b.  Comparing this such Trumpian view to how these such matters were viewed by the U.S. before Trump?

First, from President Trump's speech to the U.N. General Assembly on 19 September 2017:  


“Our success depends on a coalition of strong and independent nations that embrace their sovereignty, to promote security, prosperity, and peace, for themselves and for the world.”

“We do not expect diverse countries to share the same cultures, traditions, or even systems of government, but we do expect all nations to uphold these two core sovereign duties: to respect the interests of their own people and the rights of every other sovereign nation.”

“Strong sovereign nations let diverse countries with different values, different cultures, and different dreams not just coexist, but work side by side on the basis of mutual respect.”


Next, from Hans Morgenthau's Foreign Affairs article "To Intervene or Not to Intervene" from 1967:


The United States and the Soviet Union face each other not only as two great powers which in the traditional ways compete for advantage. They also face each other as the fountainheads of two hostile and incompatible ideologies, systems of government and ways of life, each trying to expand the reach of its respective political values and institutions and to prevent the expansion of the other. ... Here is the dynamic force which has led the two superpowers to intervene all over the globe, sometimes surreptitiously, sometimes openly, sometimes with the accepted methods of diplomatic pressure and propaganda, sometimes with the frowned-upon instruments of covert subversion and open force.


As can be seen from the quoted items provided immediately above, the United States, before Trump, did not believe that embracing such things as political, economic, social and value "equality," "diversity" and/or "sovereignty" was in the U.S.'s best interests; this, because such:

a.  Tended to "tie our hands;" this, rather, than to:

b.  Give us "freedom of action." 

Bottom Line Question -- Based on the Above:   

How can the U.S. -- under Trump's "equality," "diversity" and "sovereignty" theory (which protects Maduro and provides that Russia is seen as being "right?;" see my quoted item below) -- today as it did in the past -- "intervene all over the globe, sometimes surreptitiously, sometimes openly, sometimes with the accepted methods of diplomatic pressure and propaganda, sometimes with the frowned-upon instruments of covert subversion and open force" -- this, so as protect and provide for its (the U.S.'s) interest?

(The answer would seem to be that, under the Trumpian construct outlined above, the U.S. simply cannot.)  


“Based on that, one would say that the fact the government of Maduro has invited Russian troops is within the normal right of any sovereign government,” Professor Doyle says.

At its core, international experts say, the tussle between the two global powers is really a clash of values, with the U.S. on the side of individuals’ rights and Russia upholding the traditional authority of sovereign governments.

“Russia is quite open that values like human rights shouldn’t play a big role in how you relate with neighbors. It should be state to state,” Professor Miller says.

Adds Professor Doyle, “If you did the most basic evaluation of this battle over interventions in Venezuela, you’d probably have to say that under international law Russia is in the better legal territory but not so good ethical territory.”


(Herein the problem, of course, is that the U.S., under Trump, has abandoned the "ethical theory;" this, in favor of the "political, economic, social and value diversity and sovereignty theory" preferred by our opponents.)