Trump's speech on Venezuela was magnificent
President Trump's speech yesterday to a wildly enthusiastic crowd at Florida International University bears legitimate comparison to President Reagan's "Tear Down this Wall!" speech in Berlin. It may even change history, as Reagan's did.
With many Venezuelan immigrants, Cuban-Americans, and Nicaraguan-Americans in the audience, it was among his best public moments. He was introduced by First Lady Melania Trump, who made the point that she had escaped a communist tyranny and knows what it feels like to enjoy the freedom of the United States. Warm-up acts don't get any better than this.
YouTube screen grab.
Because it was given in the daytime, not prime time, many people were unable to see the historic moment on television, so video of the full speech is embedded below. At this hour, transcripts are not yet available, unfortunately.
There were two related themes: the futility of socialism, which leads to tyranny because it is based on a mistaken concept of human nature, and the need for Venezuelan officials, especially in the military, to disobey any orders to attack Maduro's opposition, members of the National Assembly, Acting President Guaidó and his family, and the aid column (supplied by the United States) that will be heading into Venezuela in five days. The New York Times chronicles the threat he made:
"We seek a peaceful transition of power, but all options are open," Mr. Trump said. He urged all members of the Venezuelan military to permit the aid into the country, and advised them to accept the opposition's amnesty offer — or they will find "no safe harbor, no easy exit, and no way out."
"You will lose everything," the president said. ...
If Mr. Maduro's stranglehold on the food and medicine supply can be broken, and he can be shown to have lost control of the border, his legitimacy as the country's president will weaken, the reasoning goes. If the military can be convinced to not stand between the Venezuelan population and the humanitarian aid, he may fall.
Staging the humanitarian assistance as the test of the loyalty of military and police forces to Maduro, while warning them that there will be no way out after Maduro's inevitable fall, is smart. Members of the military below the bribed top level of generals have family and friends who are starving. Firing on or blocking life-saving aid to protect the pride and rule of a corrupt puppet of Cuba, as Trump correctly called him, becomes a betrayal of their own people, one that will have dire consequences after the regime falls.
Trump held out the promise that the last three dominoes of socialist-communist dictatorship in the Western Hemisphere will fall. Caracas, Managua, and Havana will become free capitals of free nations, and for the first time in human history, an entire hemisphere will be free.
I had goosebumps at that point. It was right up there with Ronald Reagan saying, "Mr. Chairman, tear down this wall!"
There are skeptics and critics, of course. The most strident I have found so far come from the right, where The American Conservative called it "irresponsible." They don't want any military engagement. But I see that as unlikely, particularly since Colombian forces will be accompanying the aid, most likely, and if the Colombians are attacked by foolish Venezuelan troops and police, those Venezuelan troops can easily be defeated, especially if American airpower is brought in to respond to an attack.
There is almost zero danger that Russia or China will be tempted to intervene and trigger a world war. Both countries have many billions of dollars in loans and accounts payable at stake in Venezuela, and they realize that Maduro is on his last legs. They want the successor regime to pay off those debts, because they need the money. Neither wants to fight a war on the other side of the world, with American supply lines a few hundred miles long, while their supply lines are thousands of miles long, and their air forces have nothing at all like our logistics capabilities.
I think Trump has accurately read the forces at work and is going all in on a goal he deeply believes in.
Here is the entire half-hour speech, well worth the time investment: