Should Venezuela, Rather Than North Korea, be Top Priority For America?
Whilst North Korea has been provoking the United States again with renewed missile threats, the US faces a greater problem closer to home - namely Venezuela.
North Korea can’t be ignored, and nor should it be; a state run by an egomaniac of a dictator with little care for the people stuck inside should never be accepted as an acceptable norm. However, right now the US should focus more on Venezuela who’s instability threatens financial and political structures in the region. This can have major consequences for the US.
President Trump said recently that he refused to rule out military intervention in Venezuela in order to oust President Maduro. Such a statement was counterproductive because it only strengthened Maduro’s nationalist rhetoric. Moreover, such an intervention would needlessly harm civilians and members of the military. What the statement does show, however, is that the US is seeing Venezuela as a foreign policy priority. This is a welcome stance although the priority for the US should not necessarily be the destruction of Venezuela but rather a peaceful resolution that benefits the people.
There are multiple reasons why the US should be in favour of such a peaceful solution.
A stable country means stable trade for the US. Venezuela has historically been an important exporter of oil to the US and whilst the link is becoming less pronounced following domestic oil production in the US and investment in alternative sources, Venezuela still has the potential to become an important trading partner in the region given its resources and proximity to the US.
A Humanitarian Crisis
The current situation in the US is dire; medicine has become a luxury item and food has become a scarcity. You get the picture. The current regime has showed neither the desire nor the ability to solve the crisis so from a humanitarian standpoint it’s in the US interest to see that the crisis is resolved in a manner that allows the nation to flourish.
Proximity to US Mainland
If the crisis continues to spiral, Venezuela could be demoted to a failed state. As a country only 1400 miles from the US, this descent could have monumental impacts on regional stability. This instability would stem from the economic, financial and security risks associated with having a failed state neighbour. This year, 18,500 Venezuelans have applied for asylum in the US so far, and one million have moved to Columbia - an important regional ally for the US. These figures are expected to rise as more Venezuelans grow tired of poor freedom and opportunity, rocketing inflation, and high rates of crime. Neighbouring countries such as Brazil have already started implementing measures to curb migrant flows. It is in US interests to support a resolution to the situation before a Venezuelan migrant crisis is triggered.
The international community needs to continue and increase its pressure on Maduro to put Venezuela on a path to recovery. Such a recovery would be of major interest to the US, who would be hard hit by a failed state neighbour.
Letting Venezuela fall further would hurt the US influence in the region as well as claim more lives. It’s not long until Venezuela becomes synonymous with North Korea. For both humanitarian and tactical reasons, that’s not something the US can stand by.