As the Russia hoax winds down in the United States and the investigations of the investigators begin, Americans would be wise to take a breath of the fresh air of freedom as it looks like our system of governance will work after all. A coup was attempted; because of the actions of patriots like Devin Nunes, it failed. However, while surveying the judicial wasteland that is the Department of Justice after the Obama years, real threats remain regarding our national security, and this time they are not domestic enemies but adversaries abroad.
The White House is fully aware of this reality, of course. The Trump team deserves a lot of credit for the amazing feat of keeping America’s security in mind during the seditious attempt by the American left to remove a duly elected president from power. Besides finally dealing with the existential threat to the United States — the People’s Republic of China, a totalitarian regime like no other in history — Mr. Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton have also focused on preserving the Monroe Doctrine and America’s dominance in our own hemisphere.
Of course, the burning bush in Latin America right now that is a direct threat to American national and economic security is the failing, socialist dictatorship in Venezuela led by chavista Nicolas Maduro.
Russia‘s interference in our elections is a minor problem we can handle. A Russian nuclear bomber base in Caracas is not a minor problem, and the possibility of such needs to be confronted head-on. When you add the fact that Venezuela may hold the world’s biggest reserves of crude underground and in its territorial waters, then the problem becomes magnified.
I believe Russian President Vladimir Putin jumped way out on a limb by going “all in” regarding Venezuela, loaning the socialist dictator billions of dollars with Venezuela’s oil reserves acting as collateral. In addition, he flew nuclear bombers to Caracas and bragged about setting up an air base in the country, right on America’s doorstep. Mr. Putin cannot back down. He would be skewered even further in public opinion polls back home. Mr. Putin is the man who wants to go down in history as a winner, one who takes territory for Mother Russia, not one who is forced to give it up. He has based his entire rule on this premise. The stakes for the Kremlin are very high.
Across the Caribbean Sea, President Trump also cannot back down. Fresh from victory against the Deep State coup, he cannot be seen as weak against the Kremlin, allowing Russia to establish a foothold in Latin America and spreading the corrosion of kleptocracy further from the Motherland.
Even though the United States is now the No. 1 energy exporter in the world and Russia is having its own delivery problems with the contamination of the Druzhba (Friendship) pipeline, allowing Moscow to control the largest oil reserves in the world, in addition to its own, would be an economic and national security policy disaster. The American people wouldn’t stand for it.
So where do we go from here?
I believe Mr. Putin is overextended. His logistical trail into Venezuela is a long and vulnerable one. The Russian navy is a shell of its former Soviet self. The U.S. Navy is adding ships and resources the Kremlin cannot match.
Mr. Trump has made it clear that he will blockade Cuba if need be to stop the flow of men and material to Mr. Maduro’s thugs. Short of a nuclear standoff, Cuban missile crisis-style, Moscow can do nothing more than it is doing right now. America has the leverage. Also, one would be foolish to underestimate President Trump. Time and time again, he has shown that he is willing and able to do what needs to be done.
Perhaps some kind of deal could be struck to prevent a military escalation. This may entail concessions in Ukraine or in Syria in return for Russia leaving Venezuela and its oil. This would be the easy and preferred way out.
However, Venezuela is a powder keg that could blow at any moment. In any event, Mr. Trump will for sure come out on top.
⦁ L. Todd Wood is a former special operations helicopter pilot and Wall Street debt trader, and has contributed to Fox Business, The Moscow Times, National Review, the New York Post and many other publications. He can be reached through his website, LToddWood.com.
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