Still time to debate any US engagement in Venezuela

Very brave Venezuelan citizens are showing the courage to put their lives on the line to achieve a better life for their families and fellow citizens. There are several similar but different episodes in recent history of a people’s quest at the risk of their lives to have a meaningful change away from totalitarian rulers.

The tragic Hungarian Revolution in 1956 ended very badly when US rhetoric inspired action and then we backed off when Soviet troops ended that uprising in bloodshed.

Years later Poland and the “Fall of the Wall” was a wonderful event in world history. I asked my then-boss, the late VA Secretary Ed Derwiski, what really happened, because he was the senior Polish American leader in the Administration. His words of wisdom stayed with me forever: “General Jaruzelski (commanding) chose to be a Polish patriot and not Russian stooge.” 

On this May Day morning, I hope that there are enough Venezuelan military members who are patriotic to the aspirations of the people and the legitimate succession of Juan Guaido to take charge and not be Maduro stooges.
The question this May Day is simple:  Before America commits more blood and treasure getting into a new war, how does America plan to get out?  Before any military option is employed, there has to be a clear exit.

The use of force, if invited in by Juan Guaido to help save Venezuela, must have a national debate to do it smart. The leaders of Venezuela have bankrupted their country, which is in an historic turn of events for a nation awash in oil reserves.

The Peoples Republic of China and Russia have legitimate “debt” claims against legally made loans indemnified by Chavista regime.

China and Russia loaned billions to Venezuela — and then the presidency went up for grabs

  • China and Russia have kept Venezuela afloat by lending billions to the economically crippled petrostate, sometimes with cheap oil thrown in as a sweetener for the two creditors.

  • Those deals were struck with strongman Nicolas Maduro, whose leadership is facing a serious challenge from Juan Guaido, and it’s not clear what happens to that debt if Maduro is kicked out of office.

  • Venezuela is indebted to external creditors by a total of something close to $100 billion.

Consequently, today right now, there is still time for an “Art of The Deal” moment backed by US military assistance if ultimately required

Resolving the $100 billion in debt to Russia and China, using money generated by Venezuelan oil reserves is a negotiating point. It just takes engineering skills and security to bring that country’s oil fields back to full capacity because the collateral is in the ground. That collateral can, over time, can pay off the “equity shares” owned to the citizens of a proud nation and also service their crushing debt burden. This is well within the art of the financially possible.

It is simple to say but, as always the devil is in the details.  if Juan Guaido invites in Americans to help, he can also assure Russia and China they will get paid as condition for Maduro being asked to leave.  I have full confidence President Trump fully understands this financial process because construction work, debt, and equity payouts  and debt servicing are well within his life experiences.

Military action for military action’s sake to enforce the Monroe Doctrine or addressing a host of other list of horribles – cocaine, narco-terrorism, a real police state with vicious Cuban enforcers, horrible blind stupid socialism, and a base for Russian, Chinese, and Iranian military threats -- are a real debating point.

Forging a partnership to secure the oil fields to begin to make Venezuela great again should be immediately be part of a transparent robust debate. Sadly, right now people will still tragically die, but there is the possibility of a unified agreed-upon plan with a beginning, middle, and end debated before any combat action starts.

Maduro had his turn and failed.  If a negotiated way ahead can be supported by Russia and China, because they will get their money back, while the US is being invited in to assist by the Interim President Guaido to focus on oil recovery, then there is a real chance to mitigate violence.

 Make no mistake: some thugs will fight to the death in lost causes.  An invitation to help secure the oil fields -- perhaps with the guaranteed security of Marine insertion forces  into remote oil fields to protect workers -- is an appropriate debate to have for our nation before we all are rushed into another nation-building war.

The ugly reality is that a full blown military operation would destroy the county and we would lose service members and ultimately Russia and China would get a word I am sure President Trump  knows: ”bupkis” – the Yiddish  term for nothing.