By Carlos Alberto Montaner
The United States will not launch a military intervention in Venezuela. One thing is to threaten and another very different to land troops. The nation would have to feel in danger and that does not happen today. It has been brilliantly explained by Professor Frank Mora, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Western Hemisphere in the Obama administration. The same has been said, even with regret, by several key analysts like Andrés Oppenheimer and Jorge Riopedre.
In 1965 the United States intervened in the Dominican Republic, in the midst of a civil war, because President Johnson, within the framework of the Cold War, wanted to prevent the emergence of a second Cuba in the Caribbean. The first one was already giving them more than enough headaches. Johnson even lived and died convinced that Fidel Castro, the Commander, had killed Kennedy and had made Johnson president. Finally, he managed to organize an operation with other OAS countries. The most ferocious were the Brazilian soldiers.
In 1983 it was the turn of the small island of Grenada in the Caribbean. Reagan took advantage of an absurd and bloody coup launched by Bernard Coard and General Hudson Austin against Maurice Bishop. It was a left-wing blow against the man of Havana. Bishop was shot along with nine of his close associates, including his lover. The pretext of Washington was the protection of a few hundred American students who were studying medicine in Grenada. They rounded up the operation with the request of two other Caribbean islands.
In December 1989, Bush Sr. invaded Panama. General Noriega, the country’s strongman, was insane. He thought that his previous services to the CIA would protect him. Then it was said that Noriega “did not sell himself.” He was just hired for short periods to the highest bidder. His supporters had killed an American soldier and raped an officer’s wife.
Bush’s dilemma was to leave Panama, including the famous bases, or intervene. He opted for the latter and did not even stop to look for a pretext or for allies. Even 72 hours before the invasion began they tried to convince the general to leave to Spain with his fortune (200 million dollars) to avoid the invasion. Noriega did not believe it and died in prison almost three decades later.
Nicolás Maduro causes the biggest rejection and they are trying to get rid of him, but without resorting to violence. For now, they are trying to eliminate him using sanctions and psychological warfare. Donald Trump repeats as a mantra that “all” options are on the table. That includes frontal warfare, but logic and observation indicate otherwise.
Trump is an isolationist. He does not believe that the United States is the leader of the West and thus it has special responsibilities. He is not the only one who thinks so. Kissinger, in his own way, sustains the same belief. Trump presides over a nation with interests, essentially economic, which leads him to face his allies in Europe and Canada and Mexico or to belittle NATO.
He would like Venezuela to have a democratic and sensible behavior, which is why he supports Juan Guaidó and receives his wife Fabiana Rosales in the White House. But he will hardly go beyond sanctions and political and diplomatic support to engage in an open war to evict Maduro and his 40 thieves from the government.
To destroy Venezuela’s military apparatus is easy. It would take a few hours for a nation like the United States to do it from the air and the sea. But occupying a large country (three times the size of Germany), confronting armed gangs, holding elections and creating a police force capable of sustaining authority is a task that can last for years. And Trump is not willing to carry it out.
However, no informed person has any doubt that Maduro and his gang have created a narco-state, allied with Iran and the terrorists of the Middle East, led by Cuba, which is a serious danger to their neighbors and, in the medium term, even to the United States, especially since Russia has made an appearance with a hundred troops and abundant weapons.
If sanctions and psychological warfare do not achieve their purpose, it is best to share the tasks. The United States would destroy the military installations of the narco-state, and the countries of the Lima Group, headed by Brazil and Colombia, would occupy the territory and organize the conditions for the return to democracy and the restoration of the economy.
That outcome is against the scarce Latin American tradition of forging an active foreign policy. But if they don’t do it, the area’s fragile democracies are in danger and between seven and ten million Venezuelans will leave the country. Quite simply, you cannot live with a gang of thugs in the neighborhood. You have to eradicate them.Carlos Alberto Montaner is a journalist and writer. Born in 1943 in Cuba and exiled, Montaner is known for his more than 25 books and thousands of articles. PODER magazine estimates that more than six million readers have access to his weekly columns throughout Latin America. He is also a political analyst for CNN en Espanol. In 2012, Foreign Policy magazine named Montaner as one of the fifty most influential intellectuals in the Ibero-American world. His latest novel is A Time for Scoundrels. His latest essay is "The President: A Handbook for Voters and the Elected." His latest book is a review of Las raíces torcidas de América Latina (The Twisted Roots of Latin America), published by Planeta and available in Amazon, in printed or digital version.