Even for a confirmed Trumpian, the president’s statement yesterday that “a military operation and military option is certainly something that we could pursue” in Venezuela is perplexing.
No reporter goaded him into making the statement. One moment he was talking about the humanitarian tragedy in Venezuela and the next, he casually volunteered the information that the military option was not off the table.
In remarks to reporters at his New Jersey golf club today, Trump said he wouldn’t rule out a “possible military option” in Venezuela.
“I’m not going to rule out a military option,” Trump said.
“Venezuela is not very far away, and the people are suffering and they’re dying,” he continued. “We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option if necessary.”
Trump declined to say whether American troops would lead a possible military effort in Venezuela, saying: “We don’t talk about it.”
“But a military operation, a military option is certainly something that we could pursue,” he said.
A military option to do what? The Pentagon doesn’t know, either. Venezuela is not a threat to the security of the United States. Their military can’t even keep peace in the streets.
The Department of Defense is pushing back on President Trump’s assertion that he is refusing to rule out a U.S. military intervention in Venezuela.
“The Pentagon has not received any orders with regards to Venezuela,” Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon said, according to CNN. “The military conducts contingency planning for a variety of situations. If called upon, we are prepared to support … government efforts to protect our national interests and safeguard US citizens.”
“Any insinuations by the Maduro regime that we are planning an invasion are baseless and are designed to distract from his continued efforts to undermine the democratic process and institutions in Venezuela.”
When a paranoid loon like Nicolas Maduro tells his people for years that the U.S. is readying an invasion and then the U.S. president pulls a “military option” out of the blue, Trump makes Maduro look like a soothsayer. Needless to say, the Venezuelan leader who was in dire straits just got a shot in the arm from the U.S. president.
The rest of Latin America is none too thrilled, either:
Latin American nations led by Peru are negotiating a written rebuke of U.S. President Donald Trump after he said the United States was considering a “military option” involving Venezuela, as the crisis-stricken country prepares its own response.
Trump on Friday threatened military intervention in Venezuela, a surprise escalation of Washington’s response to the nation’s crisis.
Caracas disparaged the threat as “craziness” and its foreign minister was due to make a statement at 11 a.m. EST (1500 GMT). Peru was the first to condemn Trump’s threatened use of force and is negotiating a written response with other nations in the region, Foreign Minister Ricardo Luna said in a statement sent exclusively to Reuters on Saturday. The statement came the day after Peru expelled Venezuela’s ambassador in Lima.
I realize that many on the right are cheering the president on with his talk of “fire and fury” directed against North Korea and now his threat against Venezuela. They mistakenly — or stupidly — believe that Trump is projecting American strength. At least in Venezuela, it appears to have had the opposite effect. It has rallied the military around Maduro, making a coup even less likely. It may have even rallied some of Maduro’s countrymen to his side despite his vicious crackdown on dissent.
There is an art to threatening other nations without sounding like an empty-headed bully. Trump has obviously not mastered the technique and because of that, the U.S. appears to be throwing its weight around unnecessarily.