Marco Rubio demands that the US fully embraces the policy that already failed and caused massive suffering:
To regain foreign policy coherence on Venezuela, we must return to the maximum pressure campaign of the Trump administration.
It is a sign of how deranged the Venezuela hawks are that Biden’s extremely modest easing of sanctions causes them to charge him with appeasement. The devastating sectoral sanctions that have been wrecking Venezuela’s economy for the last four years are still in place. There has been almost no change from Trump-era Venezuela policy, but Rubio disingenuously blames the destructive consequences of the policy he championed on the slight, insignificant changes that have been made to it under Biden. The US hasn’t really departed from the “maximum pressure” campaign, and the real insanity is thinking that the solution to the failure of that campaign is to intensify it.
Rubio complains that Maduro has “tightened” his grip on power, but makes it seem as if this is the result of reducing pressure rather than the effect of the pressure campaign itself. He calls attention to the massive exodus of millions of people from Venezuela, but then pretends that the collective punishment that he supports inflicting on these people is not one of the major causes for their flight. Like every sanctions hawk before him, Rubio feigns concern for the population that his preferred policy has been impoverishing and brutalizing for years.
The senator has a big stake in this policy, as he was one of the leading supporters of Trump’s economic war on Venezuela and he has been one of its most fanatical defenders ever since. His op-ed proves that he can’t be trusted to give an honest assessment of Venezuela policy under either Trump or Biden.
In fact, he can’t even be trusted to get basic facts right. For instance, he claims that Maduro and his allies “stole power from Juan Guaidó in 2019,” which would have been quite a trick since they were already in power and he was a little-known legislator at the time. The more accurate way to describe what happened was that the US and its allies pretended that Guaidó was the president when he had no power and then persisted in this fantasy until the opposition gave up on it. Guaidó never had any power for anyone else to steal. The hawks’ hare-brained idea of trying to force regime change failed with ruinous consequences for the people of Venezuela, who continue to suffer under the sanctions that Rubio celebrates.
Daniel Larison is a weekly columnist for Antiwar.com and maintains his own site at Eunomia. He is former senior editor at The American Conservative. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.