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Trump threatens Venezuela with unspecified 'military option'

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Trump threatens Venezuela with unspecified 'military option'

By James Oliphant

 

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U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters about North Korea before meeting with participants in a workforce and apprenticeship discussion at his golf estate in Bedminster, New Jersey U.S. August 11, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

 

BEDMINSTER, N.J. (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday threatened military intervention in Venezuela, a surprise escalation of Washington's response to Venezuela's political crisis that Caracas disparaged as "craziness."

 

Venezuela has appeared to slide toward a more volatile stage of unrest in recent days, with anti-government forces looting weapons from a military base after a new legislative body usurped the authority of the opposition-controlled congress.

 

"The people are suffering and they are dying. We have many options for Venezuela including a possible military option if necessary," Trump told reporters in an impromptu question and answer session.

 

The comments appeared to shock Caracas, with Venezuela's Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino calling the threat "an act of craziness."

 

The White House said Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro requested a phone call with Trump on Friday, which the White House appeared to spurn, saying in a statement that Trump would gladly speak to Venezuela's leader when democracy was restored in that country.

 

Venezuelan authorities have long said U.S. officials were planning an invasion. A former military general told Reuters earlier this year that some anti-aircraft missiles had been placed along the country's coast for precisely that eventuality.

 

In Washington, the Pentagon said the U.S. military was ready to support efforts to protect U.S. citizens and America's national interests, but that insinuations by Caracas of a planned U.S. invasion were "baseless."

 

Trump's suggestion of possible military action came in a week when he has repeatedly threatened a military response if North Korea threatens the United States or its allies.

 

Asked if U.S. forces would lead an operation in Venezuela, Trump declined to provide details. "We don't talk about it but a military operation - a military option - is certainly something that we could pursue," he said.

 

Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, criticized Trump's new stance.

 

"Congress obviously isn't authorizing war in Venezuela," he said in a statement. "Nicolas Maduro is a horrible human being, but Congress doesn’t vote to spill Nebraskans' blood based on who the Executive lashes out at today."

 

'MADURO MUST BE THRILLED'

 

The president's comments conjured up memories of gunboat diplomacy in Latin America during the 20th century, when the United States regarded its "backyard" neighbors to the south as underlings who it could easily intimidate through conspicuous displays of military power.

 

The U.S. military has not directly intervened in the region since a 1994-1995 operation that aimed to remove from Haiti a military government installed after a 1991 coup.

 

Trump's more aggressive discourse could be an asset to Maduro by boosting his credibility as a national defender.

 

"Maduro must be thrilled right now," said Mark Feierstein, who was a senior aide on Venezuela matters to former U.S. president Barack Obama. "It's hard to imagine a more damaging thing for Trump to say."

 

The United States sanctioned Maduro and other Venezuelan officials in July after Maduro established a constituent assembly run by his Socialist Party loyalists and cracked down on opposition figures. The assembly's election drew international condemnation and critics have said it removed any remaining checks on Maduro's power.

 

Maduro says only continuing the socialist movement started by his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, can bring peace and prosperity to Venezuela, which is suffering from an economic collapse and widespread hunger.

 

Washington has not placed sanctions on the OPEC member's oil industry, which supplies America with about 740,000 barrels per day of oil.

 

Venezuela possesses a stockpile of 5,000 Russian-made MANPADS surface-to-air weapons, according to military documents reviewed by Reuters. It has the largest known cache of the weapons in Latin America, posing a concern for U.S. officials during the country's mounting turmoil.

 

The United Nations Security Council was briefed behind closed doors on Venezuela in May at the request of the United States. At the time, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said Washington was just trying to raise awareness of the situation and was not seeking any action by the 15-member Security Council.

 

 
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-- © Copyright Reuters 2017-08-12

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This is true:   Twice per day, Trump is given a multi-page report to read. Many color pics and graphs.   Every article praises Trump.  It's put together by his staff.  They realized, early on, that Trump won't go into screaming angry rages when he sees/hears news that praises himself.  

 

That would at least partly explain why Trump consistently makes such wrong statements.  He simply doesn't get fed correct data - about what's going on in the world, and how Americans view him.

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4 minutes ago, Rancid said:

So let's see, we have seen threatened war so far with China, Iran, Syria, N Korea, Russia and now Venezuela. As all the former options look too hard, my money would be on Venezuela, plus there is the oil factor of course.

I don't think Russia belongs on that list.   Trump is incapable of saying anything non-adulatory about Putin or Russia.   The other countries, yes.  Which countries are next?    Mexico, for not sending 25 billion $$'s to DC to pay for the wall?   El Salvador for sending too many hoodlums to the US?   Germany and Sweden for being too accommodating to brown-skinned refugees?   The Vatican for not lavishing holy praise on Trump?

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2 minutes ago, JHolmesJr said:

In the past, the US has waded in when human rights are threatened in latin america.

 

No one called those presidents crazy…..but now its open season for the all kinds of unhinged people

to take a shot at him. Losing makes people twisted.

 

 

 

I believe the last time the US openly intervened militarily in Latin American was the invasion of the Dominican Republic in the middle 60's. A lot has changed since then. But it's especially bizarre to be threatening it while you're threatening another country on the other side of the world at the same time. It's doubtful anyone takes it seriously but it does give the government of Venezuela a good excuse to continue its repression.

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3 minutes ago, ilostmypassword said:

I believe the last time the US openly intervened militarily in Latin American was the invasion of the Dominican Republic in the middle 60's. A lot has changed since then. But it's especially bizarre to be threatening it while you're threatening another country on the other side of the world at the same time. It's doubtful anyone takes it seriously but it does give the government of Venezuela a good excuse to continue its repression.

Panama 1990

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13 minutes ago, zydeco said:

Panama 1990

I stand corrected.  Which didn't make it legal. Although the Canal Zone treaty might have provided some sort of justification. But what legal justification would there be for taking military action against Venezuela?

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16 minutes ago, zydeco said:

Panama 1990

Operation Just (Be)Cause, but they were back in Haiti in 2004.

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32 minutes ago, Jingthing said:

trump appears to be bucking for some kind of war because the Russian investigation is quickly closing in on him. Classic tactic of corrupt authoritarians with very low approval. This situation is not funny.

+1

Yes, it seems Trump tries to whitewash his policy and personal failures by playing the strong man and missing again all common sense. Furthermore he is completely unable to learn a little bit. Within the last 2 decades the US has already tried to impose democracy in states where democracy wouldn't work, as i.e. in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, although never tried to do the same in Saudi Arabia i..e. 

 

This threats against V. are understandable, but incredible and arrogant, because contradicting the US-behavior in other cases.

.

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