Sorry, Lindsey Graham, Venezuela isn’t Grenada

Written by on May 23, 2019

Writing in the Wall Street Journal on Thursday, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., calls on President Trump to replicate former President Ronald Reagan’s example in Grenada, and use military force to remove Nicolás Maduro from power in Venezuela.

Reagan, Graham writes, “intervened militarily, ensuring Grenada didn’t become a satellite state of Cuba. The U.S. must be willing to intervene in Venezuela the way we did in Grenada. Mr. Trump should tell Cuba to withdraw all security forces from Venezuela immediately. If Cuba doesn’t comply, the U.S. should move military assets to the region.”

While I share Graham’s concern over Venezuela’s humanitarian disaster, which will get worse in the coming months, Venezuela is not Grenada.

Absent an attack by Maduro on U.S. interests, or against interim president Juan Guaidó, or against Colombia, it would not be in the U.S. national interest to use force. This is not to say that the United States should avoid a presence of force in and around Venezuelan territory. But invading Venezuela would be a lot more complicated than invading tiny Grenada. Venezuela is 2,629 times bigger than Grenada in land area. As an island, Grenada is also a lot easier to access and control. The U.S. Navy could simply surround Grenada and dominate the mobility of its forces. Venezuela? Forget it.

Venezuela’s military is also significantly more advanced than Grenada’s was when the U.S. invaded in 1983. While many Venezuelan units would likely surrender at first contact with U.S. forces, that cannot be guaranteed. In addition, Venezuelan regime loyalists in asymmetric formations such as the colectivos would pose a continuing challenge even after Maduro was removed. In short, the risks and complexities of a military operation against Venezuela must be weighed against any benefits.

This doesn’t mean that Trump should sit idle. His administration has invested too much credibility to surrender the rightful interim president of Venezuela Guaidó to Maduro. But Trump himself has presented the alternative to military means of driving Maduro out: obstructing Cuba’s oil theft. If the Cubans lose Venezuelan oil, they will be forced to abandon Maduro. That’s the way to move forward, not through an invasion.

Source: Washington Examiner – Beltway Confidential


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