Donald Trump has thrown himself around the world stage in impulsive and often embarrassing fashion. He has frayed the trust of U.S. allies while being solicitous to thuggish regimes.
But in Venezuela, so far at least, his administration is wielding American influence effectively — by flexing the very “soft power” that Democrats often speak of harnessing.
Since taking over the 32-million-population nation in 2013, Nicolas Maduro has consolidated power and terrorized political opponents, all while cratering the economy through an authoritarian brand of socialism.
Inflation is now upwards of 80,000 percent. Despite the nation’s oil riches, people are starving, and desperate for humanitarian aid.
When last month opposition leader Juan Guaido, president of the National Assembly, claimed the mantle of power, the United States and its allies swiftly and rightly recognized him as the country’s legitimate leader. Now, America sends food aid to the Colombia-Venezuela border, reducing Maduro to the pitiful position of blasting basic nourishment as some kind of imperialist trap — and his forces firing live rounds at their own famished citizens.
Speaking in Bogota Monday, Vice President Mike Pence announced stepped-up U.S. sanctions on Maduro loyalists assisting in the blockade. Good.
U.S. military meddling in Latin America over the generations tells many cautionary tales. But Venezuelans are in agony. Aggressive action short of armed intervention to tip the balance away from a dictator is not only reasonable. It’s responsible