Somehow, Venezuela has moved toward the top of our list of foreign enemies. Presidents Obama and Trump have portrayed it as a dangerous challenger to American power.
It’s an odd choice. This nation of 28 million, perched on the northern coast of South America, is effectively bankrupt. Its navy has six small gunboats, three frigates that can barely sail out of sight of land, and two 40-year-old submarines. Yet according to many in Washington, it ranks with China, Russia, and Iran as an urgent threat to American security.
In 2015, evidently moved by reports of corruption and human rights violations, Obama declared “a national emergency with respect to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by the situation in Venezuela.” He began imposing sanctions on Venezuela’s government and leaders.