Another, less remarkable stunt last night at the SOTU was the celebrity acknowledgement of Juan Guaido as the “leader in exile” of Venezuela. The prize he received was something Ukraine president Zelensky has yet to receive, the credibility of a WH visit. Will the dog-wag for the post-acquittal impeached Trump be another try at a Venezuelan coup in order to affect the US election. Remaining a threat to national security seems only too close.
2/ Trump's theory of the case was as simple as it was ignorant of reality: recognize Juan Guaido as the leader of Venezuela and Maduro would just back down. It was an idea, not a strategy, and it had no hope of working.3/ Some of us counseled holding back recognition of Guaido as leverage to get Maduro to make concessions. But Trump played his most important card on day one, leaving him no room to maneuver. Diplomatic malpractice.4/ Trump's isolation from our allies now began to hurt. We moved to impose sanctions on Maduro, but the EU – insulted time and again by Trump – largely wouldn't help. Without Europe, our sanctions were at best feckless.5/ And then it got worse. Turkey, UAE, and India, in league with Russia, sided against the U.S. and constructed a means for Maduro to avoid sanctions. A nuclear meltdown of American diplomacy – the nations that mattered on sanctions were either neutral or actively undermining us.6/ But it got EVEN WORSE – Trump appointed Elliott Abrams as our envoy, even though most of our Latin American allies viewed Abrams as a proponent of U.S. Western Hemisphere imperialism. Abrams, assured to alienate our allies, was probably the worst pick possible for this job.7/ Trump's reversal of the diplomatic thaw with Cuba also meant that there was no way to work with Cuba, a huge backer of Maduro, to ease an end to the regime.8/ Now panicking in the face of months of failure, the U.S. tried to secretly organize a military coup, but we bungled it, and it failed miserably and publicly, leaving Guaido more isolated and embarrassed than ever before.9/ Today, Venezuela is becoming a second Cuba. Guaido is not in charge, but we pretend he is. Maduro has China/Russia/Cuba/India/UAE/Turkey on his side, and he is growing stronger by the day.
In the end, Trump was the best thing that ever happened to Maduro.