The war over Venezuela is about to take a new turn, with most of the fighting taking place in the form of dueling policy papers while the soldiers on both sides of the barricades are stuck in the trenches, not attacking but merely defending what they already have.
Insofar as the rebels are concerned, their assets consist chiefly of a Potemkin Village of international endorsements from American allies and the American media. These are the so-called Sofa Samurai, which were supposed to be hailing the would-be success of "President" Juan Guaido as his civilian partisans appealed to the military to switch sides and align themselves with "the people."
Yet these wannabe Samurai never seemed to get off the sofa: ignored and jeered at by the military, they have focused their efforts on the American embassy in Caracas where an ongoing back-and-forth has been taking place, but only minor violence. The rebels were slated to march to the Embassy while cheering crowds were supposedly scheduled to greet them with flowers. None of that happened. Instead, the jeering continued and there was no break in the stand-off.
Meanwhile, the prospect of a peaceful settlement has been raised by factions on both sides, while the possibility of elections has been proffered by less radical elements.
In short, the ultra-left has been cut off at the pass, Maduro’s past unwillingness to negotiate seems to be breaking down, and the food shortages and lack of foreign exchange seem to be having an effect.
Public opinion is swinging toward a leader – any leader – who is seen as a crisis-solver. Luis Vincent Leon, a pollster for Datanalysis, averred that "if you resolve the problem you’re a hero. If not, you’re seen as the culprit."
The US administration is seeking some sort of compromise between military action on whatever scale and increased economic sanctions. Yet Trump is clearly refusing to consider the kind of military mobilization required for an attack.
What’s clear is that the longer the standoff goes on, the more likely the rebels will see their revolt fizzle before their eyes. This outcome is precisely what the President is looking for – the defeat of his enemies, both foreign (the Chavistas) and domestic (the neocons).
As for the possibility of war: this is just what the President doesn’t want as he faces re-election. Whether he can be lured into it despite that remains to be seen.
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NOTES IN THE MARGIN
You can check out my Twitter feed. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.
I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).
You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.