The Trump Administration has committed to seeing a regime change in Venezuela, aiming to oust President Maduro and replace him with opposition leader Juan Guaido, seen as more friendly to US interests.
But previous talk of Maduro as a “gangster” in and of himself is starting to fall by the wayside. Instead, officials, particularly Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, are presenting the enemy in Venezuela as socialism in general, making this an ideological fight.
This somewhat changes the tone, if not the intentions, of the US push for regime change, centering it not just on ousting a single government, but demanding Venezuela as a whole abandon its present ruling ideology in favor of one more palatable to US interests.
That’s a much different demand, and makes Venezuela’s decision to expel the US diplomats from Caracas less surprising. Yet Pompeo, who had long defended leaving the diplomats there, tried to talk around this expulsion, presenting the withdrawal as a US decision related to the worsening situation within Venezuela.
This, adds to constant US threats to resort to invading Venezuela militarily to impose regime change. Pompeo presented the US diplomats as a “constraint” on policy that is no longer in place, suggesting they are nearing the point of intervention.
The New York Times seemed to be backing up the argument that the US should escalate the situation, arguing that having backed Guaido and failed to get him into power could be similarly to President Obama not following through on 2012 threats against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. This seems likely to just encourage President Trump on a military path, determined not to look weak.