America Needs A Venezuela Policy

In 2014, troubling trends in Europe and the Middle East held much of America’s attention. And 2015 is shaping up to be similar.

I have written extensively and frequently on how America can better defend its interests and allies in that part of the world. But we also face challenges and opportunities that are much closer to home, which deserve just as much if not more attention than events that take place an ocean away.

I am speaking specifically about the dramatic and alarming turn that Venezuela has taken towards authoritarian politics and economic collapse under Hugo Chavez’s anointed successor Nicolas Maduro.

Venezuela’s politics are bad for its citizens, who deserve a democratic government that honors freedom of expression and encourages economic growth. But they aren’t just bad for Venezualans: they are bad for the United States.

Philippines Obama _ChamOn Monday, I wrote about the worrying growth of Chinese influence in Latin America, and specifically in Venezuela where Beijing has pledged to invest $20 billion over the next ten years. And in my recent book The Russia-China Axis, I discuss in detail the role Venezuela has played and continues to play in working against America and its allies.

Maduro has continued Chavez’s pernicious legacy of destabilizing neighboring states, cooperating with terrorist organizations, and propping up the Cuban regime with cheap oil in return for arms and political support.

In the face of a failing economy where Maduro’s misrule has led to widespread food shortages, the regime has begun deploying troops to control shoppers and arresting protestors who just want to be able to feed their families.

For all of these reasons – and more – America needs a real strategy for dealing with Maduro and the threat he poses to his own and neighboring countries.