Lessons from Venezuela for the Left — and Trump

Lessons from Venezuela for the Left — and Trump

In the freak show that constitutes today’s politics, it’s well to recall that there are real issues out there, like our government’s wise decision to recognize opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the interim president of Venezuela. The crisis there upends a number of preconceived notions across the spectrum, while the US response underscores the value of allies when taking major foreign-policy stands.

Frankly, given what’s happened in Venezuela, it’s hard to believe anyone can still see socialism as a worthy model. Ever since Nicolás Maduro took the reins of Hugo Chávez’s socialist experiment in 2013, the country’s slide into dictatorship and economic ruin has accelerated.

Today, it’s a full-blown humanitarian nightmare, with severe medical and food shortages. Three million Venezuelans — a tenth of its population — have fled the country. It’s so bad that parents have abandoned their starving children at orphanages.

With the assistance of a corrupt supreme court, Maduro has clung to power, shutting down media outlets and silencing foes. He was reelected president last May in what everyone calls a sham election.

What happens next is anybody’s guess. China and Russia want him to stay, to protect their investments in Venezuela. If he does, and there’s blood in the streets, we’ve announced that all options are on the table.

Actually, the violence has already begun. It’s reported that dozens of protesters have been killed by security forces in the last few days.

Fact is, anyone who truly cares about people’s lives — never mind basic freedoms — has to own up to the inevitable disaster socialism can beget.

And let’s remember, it’s not as if what happened is an aberration. The same thing happened in other countries — the former Soviet Union and its satellites, Mao’s China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Cuba — where the promise of a socialist paradise ended up as totalitarian nightmares and humanitarian hellholes.

Which is why, given all the horrors, it’s mind-boggling so many of America’s socialists aren’t happy with Washington’s approach. Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin calls Guaidó’s move a coup. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) condemned the US decision, calling it undemocratic — an extraordinary statement, given that it’s Maduro who’s the real enemy of democracy. What Benjamin and Ocasio-Cortez have done is put themselves on the side of the imperialists.

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This story also turns the concept of “Western imperialism” on its head. Remember, Maduro relies on support from China and Russia, and is propped up by many thousands of Cuban operatives, who spy on dissenters and fire upon protesters.

Organization of American States Secretary General Luis Almagro calls the Cubans an “occupation army.” And Russia and China want to milk Venezuela for their own gain.

Truth is, if anyone is an imperialist here, it’s the Cubans, backed by China and Russia. On the other hand, we’re on the side of the Venezuelan people.

There’s a lesson here for President Trump, too, about the value of alliances. In recognizing Guaidó, we coordinated with major regional players that threw their support behind him the same time we did. They included Brazil and Argentina, but also, remarkably, Justin Trudeau’s Canada. It’s critical to have the support from conservative governments in Brazil and Argentina but also especially helpful to have it from Trudeau, who could give AOC a lesson in wokeness.

The joint action further shields us against charges of US imperialism. It wasn’t just the American bullies acting unilaterally to impose power; it was a wide swath of countries. Without such broad support, and with America’s critics questioning our motives, the drive to oust Maduro would have little chance of succeeding.

That vital lesson — about the importance of friends — is one both Trump and Trudeau have ignored in the past. Recall that Trudeau tried to diss Trump, but Canada found itself in need of friends when the Saudis took offense at tweets by Canada’s foreign minister. And when the Chinese began holding Canadians hostage after Canada arrested an executive of a Chinese tech giant at our request.

Trump hasn’t paid much attention to friends either. He’s gone out of his way to tell NATO allies that they’re freeloaders, and it’s been reported that he’d like to withdraw from the alliance.

Still, Trump deserves our thanks for the stand we’re taking against one of the world’s worst bad guys. And for enlisting some of the world’s better guys on our side before doing so.

F.H. Buckley wrote “The Republican Workers Party: How the Trump Victory Drove Everyone Crazy, and Why It Was Just What We Needed.”

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