Venezuelans need to determine their fate

Venezuelans are suffering terribly from the socialist government of dictator Nicolas Maduro. There is no doubt whatsoever about that. Many Americans feel sympathy for them.

But there has to be a limit on how far our government will go to help the Venezuelans.

Thus far — at least, to the public’s knowledge — U.S. intervention has been limited to economic sanctions against the Maduro regime and attempts to provide humanitarian aid to its victims.

But on Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence told the United Nations Security Council that “all options are on the table” to oust Maduro. He suggested Russia and other allies of the regime should not become involved.

“All options” seems to imply that President Donald Trump’s administration is considering some sort of military intervention in Venezuela. That could take forms ranging from providing weaponry to Maduro’s foes to use of U.S. troops.

No active involvement by Americans would be prudent. Maduro himself claims the United States is inciting rebellion in his country. Validating what, for now, is only propaganda would invite intervention by other countries on Maduro’s behalf.

Maduro warned earlier this year that use of U.S. troops in Venezuela would result in “another Vietnam.” That may not be an empty threat, especially if the regime could enlist allies to repel a U.S. incursion.

Even a short, successful armed uprising led by Americans could prove to be counterproductive in the long run. It would give other leftist dictators, both in this hemisphere and elsewhere, ammunition for their own propaganda campaigns maintaining that Washington is eager to set up puppet governments, by force, if necessary.

Yes, the Venezuelan people are suffering. And yes, Maduro should be ousted. But that is a task that cannot be completed by the United States. It has to be left up to Venezuelans themselves.


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