With his tough approach to Venezuela’s crumbling dictatorship, President Donald Trump is carrying on the traditions of the Cold Warriors who toppled the Soviet Union, using a policy of measured strength and direct work to help liberate those people who were inflicted with “the perfect implementation of socialism.”
At a critical juncture, Trump extended diplomatic recognition to opposition leader Juan Guaidó, the elected president of the National Assembly, declaring him Venezuela’s legitimate president and urging other countries to do the same.
The Venezuelan people have reached a breaking point under Nicolás Maduro and his socialist dictatorship. After Hugo Chavez’s hand-picked successor declared himself the winner of a blatantly-rigged election, the National Assembly declared his victory illegitimate and installed Guaidó as interim president, in accordance with the country’s constitution.
It took terrible privations and broad human rights violations to drive the Venezuelan people to this point. Over the past 16 years, in a country rich in natural resources and abundance, the Marxist Chavez-Maduro dictatorship has pillaged Venezuela’s once-considerable wealth to such an extent that people literally starve on the streets. With this long-oppressed population taking this crucial step, Trump could not stand on the sidelines.
The president is now publicly throwing the diplomatic weight of the United States behind the Venezuelan people’s courageous effort to reclaim their country despite the omnipresent risk of torture and imprisonment.
As we now know, Trump, his administration and other U.S. leaders such as Republican Sen. Marco Rubio have been working behind the scenes for years to build the international support these brave Venezuelans needed to ensure their efforts are not in vain.
In throwing a lifeline to the Venezuelan people, Trump has re-established and truly lived up to his role as “Leader of the Free World,” and he’s done so without resorting to the knee-jerk military interventionism practiced by his recent predecessors.
Trump’s strategy has brought new life to the Cold Warrior mettle of presidents such as Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy, which is exactly what America needs today as we confront a resurgence of the types of international threats that characterized the Cold War era.
While the successors to Marx, Lenin and Stalin may have lost their place as the greatest threat to Democracy with the fall of the Soviet Union and its satellites, they have by no means disappeared from the world stage.
Nowhere was this more clear than in Venezuela, which was the richest country in Latin America before Hugo Chavez ushered in a new “friendlier” brand of communism in 2002. Western liberals and socialists cheered this “Socialism of the 21st century” for years, just as they did for its Stalinist predecessors, but Chavez-style communism has proven just as brutal as any Soviet-era regime.
Can anyone imagine 1 million percent inflation?! How can any government of man inflict this kind of suffering on its own people? This is why Trump has acted — and will continue to act to correct this obtuse relic created by the failed political constructs of the Cold War era.
Trump has countered authoritarian regimes since the start of his administration. Under his leadership, the United States has taken an unceasingly harsh line against the world’s remaining totalitarian socialist states.
In a dramatic reversal of Barack Obama’s rapprochement with the Castro regime in Cuba, for instance, Trump restored and redoubled the policies of his Cold Warrior antecedents against Castro, applying maximum economic and political pressure to hasten the demise of the communist dictatorship in Cuba.
Similarly, the president has reversed decades of soft-touch trade policy toward China, using targeted counter-tariffs to compel the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party to abandon its illegal trade manipulations.
In Venezuela, the president is doing his part to bring Maduro’s man-made nightmare to an end by granting legitimacy and moral support to the opposition movement that is bravely standing up to the dictator and his enablers.
Maduro, in his desperation to cling to power, has resorted to all the same brutal tactics employed by other communist dictators, using state violence to stifle free speech and intimidate political opponents while calling his international critics fascists and Nazis.
In opposing him, however, an American president has shown he’s willing to carry on the tradition of the great Cold Warriors who defeated Maduro’s forebears and ended their ideals of enslaving the human spirit. Thanks to unflinching American leadership, Maduro will soon be joining them on the ash heap of history.
Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer is a retired senior intelligence operations officer and Acting President of the London Center for Policy Research.
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