President Donald Trump’s alarming rhetoric is enough to strike fear into many Americans, who believe that his vitriolic words could result in possible war with other nations. But what he says behind closed doors is equally troublesome.
A high level source in the White House has recently revealed stark conversations Trump had within his cabinet regarding how to deal with a growing dictatorship within Venezuela. While most agreed sanctions on the nation, in conjunction with other Latin American nations that normally do business with Venezuela leveling economic penalties, were warranted, Trump pushed the envelope, reportedly asking why we couldn’t just invade the country with our military.
Former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and former Secretary of Defense Rex Tillerson, both still in office during the August 10 meeting, were taken aback, according to the senior administration official who spoke anonymously. The exchange between officials trying to explain to Trump why that’d be a bad idea — for instance, it’d risk alienating other nations in the region who had already agreed to take action against Venezuela — lasted for five minutes.
Trump pushed on, citing military successes in the 1980s in Grenada and Panama. He was apparently convinced not to push the issue further during that meeting.
That didn’t mean he dropped it from his mind, however, and the next day the president threatened Venezuela with the power of the U.S. military. “We have many options for Venezuela including a possible military option if necessary,” he said to reporters.
It remained an option for him for well after that. In September, during the United Nations General Assembly, Trump participated in a private dinner with at least four other leaders from Latin American nations. Trump was briefed by his staff not to mention invading Venezuela again, lest he risk pushing away allies for the reasons outlined above.
Trump (being Trump) ignored those warnings. “My staff told me not to say this,” he began. He then asked each of the leaders around the table whether they were absolutely certain they didn’t want to have the U.S. invade Venezuela, to remove President Nicolas Maduro from power. Each of the four said they did not want that.
This whole revelation reveals two things. First, Trump is demonstrating that he doesn’t trust his advisers when it comes to the strategic advice they give to him. He ignored them on several occasions, and only relented on the issue (it seems) once he asked his allies directly whether it would be a bad idea to invade.
Second, this also shows that Trump is a warhawk, one of the worst kind we’ve ever seen to sit in the White House. Whether it’s with Venezuela or any other country he has a beef with, Trump isn’t afraid to use the military as a means to get his way. That could mean that, by the end of his first term, we may see ourselves engaging in a war with an adversary over a minute issue that could have easily been resolved using diplomatic measures instead.
Trump’s erratic behavior has to be controlled. Unfortunately, no one in the White House seems willing to do so. It is up to the American people, then, in the upcoming midterm elections to elect a Congress that’s willing to stand up to him.