The fall of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) from supposed guardian of decent Republicanism or whatever to passionate Trump shill has been well-documented at this point, but this weekend, he took it to a new extreme. During an appearance on Fox News Sunday, he explicitly advocated for the United States to invade or at least be ready and willing to invade Venezuela over the power struggle that remains ongoing in the country. Nicolás Maduro continues holding onto power as of this weekend, but opposition leader Juan Guaidó has been pushing for his departure in the face of deeply set corruption including a sham election.
Graham’s solution to this issue, even as peace talks between the two sides continue in Norway this weekend, is an invasion, and the way in which he framed his call made it even more unsettling, explicitly appealing to Trump’s ego.
He told host Chris Wallace:
‘The entire region supports the Trump approach that Guaidó is the legitimate leader. He wouldn’t be in power without 6 or 7,000 Cuban security forces in Venezuela. I would do exactly what Reagan did — I would give Cuba an ultimatum to get out of Venzuela, if they don’t, I would let the Venezuelan military know, you’ve got to choose between democracy and Maduro and if you choose Maduro and Cuba, we’re coming after you. This is in our backyard.’
— FoxNewsSunday (@FoxNewsSunday) May 26, 2019
Under Republican President Ronald Reagan, the United States launched an invasion of the Caribbean island nation of Grenada in the early 1980s, where they intended to counter a coup that had just taken place and included the execution of the country’s prime minister. Within days, the United States declared victory — but not without numerous lingering issues in that and other similar situations the country has involved itself in around the world.
Graham freely pointing to the Grenada invasion to support his idea of being ready to invade Venezuela might make for compelling political theater, but what about other absolute failures when the U.S. government has attempted similar moves? For decades on end, the U.S. fought in Vietnam against authoritarian forces, and tens of thousands of U.S. troops were killed, along with hundreds of thousands of other deaths from allies on the same side, not to mention the hundreds of thousands and even millions of civilians who lost their lives in the conflict.
On a basic level, an invasion of Venezuela would be more on par with the Vietnam situation than that in Grenada, where the conflict lasted only a few days. There are tens of millions of people living in Venezuela and Vietnam — while even today, the comparatively very small island of Grenada only has about 107,000 people living on it.
This does not seem to have occurred to Graham, who freely advocated for an invasion by going so far as to appeal to the president’s most obvious instincts — his egotism. Speaking as if directly conscious of Trump’s obsession with Fox News and the fact that he might be watching, Graham told Wallace:
‘Trump said that he was for democracy and against socialism… if he doesn’t act, everybody in the world’s going to think he’s weak. If he does act, it helps us with North Korea, Iran, Russia and everybody else.’
Considering Trump is the guy whose literal campaign slogans center on making and keeping America great and who has repeatedly freely proclaimed himself one of the greatest if not the greatest president in U.S. history, Graham’s rhetoric is profoundly irresponsible in the absolute best case scenario, upending the United States’ position. Trump has already been reported to have asked advisers about the possibility of invading Venezuela.
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