Trump's veiled threat to Venezuela: 'No options off the table'

Venezuela's ruling Chavistas want to drop all pretense of democracy and turn their country into a full-blown Cuba-style tyranny.  They're doing it with a bogus Chicago-politics-only-filthier-style fake referendum on July 30 with rigged votes, whose only certainty is its outcome.  They would have us believe that people willingly vote themselves into slavery.

That's what all of Venezuela's recent gigantic protests have been about – see Javier Caceres's firsthand account from Caracas that ran at American Thinker here – and don't imagine that the Trump administration hasn't been watching closely.

A day or two ago, Trump's people delivered a chemical weapons-style strike-back on the Chavista Maduro regime pulling this stunt, by launching in with a new round of shock sanctions.

Today, they went one farther and explicitly warned the thugs of Caracas that no options are off the table now if that fake referendum goes through on July 30.  The Telegraph reports:

On Tuesday a senior White House official said that "all options are on the table" if Venezuela goes ahead with the vote.

"The president is very concerned about the well being of the Venezuelan people, the incredible erosion of democracy right before our eyes," the official said.

"And he has instructed us to do everything we can to support democracy there."

Code: Marines.

At least that is how the Chavistas are going to take it.  The Trump administration knows how their pinched little imaginations work.

They've been yelling "Marine invasion" for at least 16 years now, always crying wolf about how President Clinton, President Bush, President Obama, name your president, at any minute, would be ready to send the Marines and continue the tradition of Teddy Roosevelt-style gunboat diplomacy at the drop of Uncle Sam's striped hat.

Well, now it looks as though President Trump has just told them they can worry freely about that.  "No options are off the table."

And of course, they won't forget that President Trump can strike hard and unpredictably – as the Taliban learned under the MOAB and as Syria's dictator learned after his chemical weapons attack on his own people.  They know.

It sounds like some hella sophisticated psychological warfare.  As the late, great CIA covert actions chief Dewey Clarridge wrote in his memoirs: "We're pretty good at making people paranoid."

Sounds as though this is what is going on.

Will such a gambit work?  I argue yes, because Chavistas have been beating that dead horse for decades, and the locals are sick of it.  What's more, times have changed.  The locals are starving due to Maduro's push toward Cuba-style socialism (funny how if you try a Cuban socialist system, you get a Cuban socialist result), and quite a few out in the hilltop slums, known as ranchos, are up in arms and angry.  Others are so hungry and destitute that they are unable to protest, and others still have fled the country.  Bottom line: This is not the same Venezuela it was when the late strongman Hugo Chávez used to bellow about Marine invasions.

If the Marines really did invade, the result would probably resemble Grenada in 1982, where hostage students and grateful locals ran out and kissed their feet.

But wouldn't the rest of Latin America scream and point, saying Uncle Sam is up to his bad old ways and no one is safe?  I argue no on that, too.  Latin American states, particularly Colombia and Brazil with their long borders to the country, are terrified of the disintegration now taking place in Venezuela.  They fear floods of refugees and massive exports of crime.  They would probably like nothing better than to see a Marine invasion and might even send troops of their own to help out.  Even if they didn't, the reality is that they are terrified and would at a minimum probably say nothing.

Marine invasions aren't the only option on the table for that hellhole on the Caribbean.  Heavier sanctions, some sort of blockade, a barrage of spies, some sort of sowing discontent with the military – all of these things are on the table too, as well as plenty of others not thought of offhand.

It's probably significant that President Trump has shipped the State Department's top professional diplomat, Tom Shannon, to go make nice with Russia's President Vladimir Putin, taking him off the Latin America desk, where he feels most at home.  Shannon is a fine diplomat with exceptional talents – Hugo Chávez, for instance, used to call Shannon in the dead of night in his pajamas and splatter out everything that was on his addled socialist mind.  But he's been around a long time and may be a bit passive, well aware of U.S. history on Latin America.

This is not a criticism; what he did may have been exactly right for the time.  But it doesn't hurt to adjust to the times.  Shannon will do a great job with Putin, while it appears that some harder men and women are taking over U.S. policy on Latin America, by all indications associates of Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and Florida's former Republican leader, Helen Aguirre Ferre, who is now a White House staffer.  Both are Miami Cubans with a perfect understanding of what Cuban communism is and a perfect recognition of what is going to happen in Venezuela.  President Trump has made many trips to Miami and has had plenty of opportunities to confer with people who know the deal.

That's why this policy is so well thought out and so likely to work, no matter what the president has in mind.

Slowly, steadily, the walls are closing in on the brutal Maduro tyranny.

Venezuela's ruling Chavistas want to drop all pretense of democracy and turn their country into a full-blown Cuba-style tyranny.  They're doing it with a bogus Chicago-politics-only-filthier-style fake referendum on July 30 with rigged votes, whose only certainty is its outcome.  They would have us believe that people willingly vote themselves into slavery.

That's what all of Venezuela's recent gigantic protests have been about – see Javier Caceres's firsthand account from Caracas that ran at American Thinker here – and don't imagine that the Trump administration hasn't been watching closely.

A day or two ago, Trump's people delivered a chemical weapons-style strike-back on the Chavista Maduro regime pulling this stunt, by launching in with a new round of shock sanctions.

Today, they went one farther and explicitly warned the thugs of Caracas that no options are off the table now if that fake referendum goes through on July 30.  The Telegraph reports:

On Tuesday a senior White House official said that "all options are on the table" if Venezuela goes ahead with the vote.

"The president is very concerned about the well being of the Venezuelan people, the incredible erosion of democracy right before our eyes," the official said.

"And he has instructed us to do everything we can to support democracy there."

Code: Marines.

At least that is how the Chavistas are going to take it.  The Trump administration knows how their pinched little imaginations work.

They've been yelling "Marine invasion" for at least 16 years now, always crying wolf about how President Clinton, President Bush, President Obama, name your president, at any minute, would be ready to send the Marines and continue the tradition of Teddy Roosevelt-style gunboat diplomacy at the drop of Uncle Sam's striped hat.

Well, now it looks as though President Trump has just told them they can worry freely about that.  "No options are off the table."

And of course, they won't forget that President Trump can strike hard and unpredictably – as the Taliban learned under the MOAB and as Syria's dictator learned after his chemical weapons attack on his own people.  They know.

It sounds like some hella sophisticated psychological warfare.  As the late, great CIA covert actions chief Dewey Clarridge wrote in his memoirs: "We're pretty good at making people paranoid."

Sounds as though this is what is going on.

Will such a gambit work?  I argue yes, because Chavistas have been beating that dead horse for decades, and the locals are sick of it.  What's more, times have changed.  The locals are starving due to Maduro's push toward Cuba-style socialism (funny how if you try a Cuban socialist system, you get a Cuban socialist result), and quite a few out in the hilltop slums, known as ranchos, are up in arms and angry.  Others are so hungry and destitute that they are unable to protest, and others still have fled the country.  Bottom line: This is not the same Venezuela it was when the late strongman Hugo Chávez used to bellow about Marine invasions.

If the Marines really did invade, the result would probably resemble Grenada in 1982, where hostage students and grateful locals ran out and kissed their feet.

But wouldn't the rest of Latin America scream and point, saying Uncle Sam is up to his bad old ways and no one is safe?  I argue no on that, too.  Latin American states, particularly Colombia and Brazil with their long borders to the country, are terrified of the disintegration now taking place in Venezuela.  They fear floods of refugees and massive exports of crime.  They would probably like nothing better than to see a Marine invasion and might even send troops of their own to help out.  Even if they didn't, the reality is that they are terrified and would at a minimum probably say nothing.

Marine invasions aren't the only option on the table for that hellhole on the Caribbean.  Heavier sanctions, some sort of blockade, a barrage of spies, some sort of sowing discontent with the military – all of these things are on the table too, as well as plenty of others not thought of offhand.

It's probably significant that President Trump has shipped the State Department's top professional diplomat, Tom Shannon, to go make nice with Russia's President Vladimir Putin, taking him off the Latin America desk, where he feels most at home.  Shannon is a fine diplomat with exceptional talents – Hugo Chávez, for instance, used to call Shannon in the dead of night in his pajamas and splatter out everything that was on his addled socialist mind.  But he's been around a long time and may be a bit passive, well aware of U.S. history on Latin America.

This is not a criticism; what he did may have been exactly right for the time.  But it doesn't hurt to adjust to the times.  Shannon will do a great job with Putin, while it appears that some harder men and women are taking over U.S. policy on Latin America, by all indications associates of Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and Florida's former Republican leader, Helen Aguirre Ferre, who is now a White House staffer.  Both are Miami Cubans with a perfect understanding of what Cuban communism is and a perfect recognition of what is going to happen in Venezuela.  President Trump has made many trips to Miami and has had plenty of opportunities to confer with people who know the deal.

That's why this policy is so well thought out and so likely to work, no matter what the president has in mind.

Slowly, steadily, the walls are closing in on the brutal Maduro tyranny.

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