Why Do Republicans Support Sanctions on Venezuela?

Photo by Kobby Mendez

Okay, I get that Republicans want to expose Democrats for their immigration hypocrisy. What I don’t get us why they would use impoverished human beings who have fled to the United States in an attempt to survive as the means to do that.

But what I really don’t understand is why Republicans and other statist supporters of America’s system of immigration controls (including Democrats) are silent about — or, even worse, supportive of — the brutal sanctions that the U.S. government has imposed and continues to enforce against Venezuela.

After all, look at how Republicans are railing against the “invasion” of the United States from Latin America. Why, a few years ago, a guy even went on a rampage in El Paso in which he killed several Hispanics because he felt he had a right to kill invaders. 

The fact is that the U.S. sanctions, in combination with Venezuela’s socialist economic system, have succeeded in making economic conditions so bad that people have had to flee Venezuela in an attempt to save their lives from starvation. 

Therefore, doesn’t it stand to reason that Republicans, who are clearly upset over the fact that some of those fleeing Venezuelans are coming to the United States, would rise up and say to U.S. officials: “Lift your sanctions, you dolts! You are just making matters worse for the Venezuelan people. You are turning them into ‘invaders’ of the United States”?

Yet, not a peep of protest from the Republican crowd. Why not?

My hunch is that the reason is that Republicans (and, actually, Democrats too) view the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA as their triune god. If their god has decided to target the Venezuelan people with death and impoverishment, then that’s just the way it’s going to be. Who are they to question their god? In fact, Republicans will not only remain silent about anything the national-security establishment does, they will actually be blindly supportive and, even worse, inculcate that same deferential mindset in their children.

What has always fascinated me about Republican support of sanctions is that many of them wear their religions on their sleeves. They make sure everyone knows that they go to church every Sunday. Through their support of Social Security, Medicare, and other socialist programs, they make it clear that they are good, caring Christians. 

I’ve always wondered though how they reconcile their devout religious convictions with their support of U.S. sanctions on Venezuela (and other nations). After all, sanctions target the Venezuelan people with death and poverty. For me, that’s bad enough. But it’s even worse given the purpose for doing this. The aim is a political one — achieving regime change. 

The idea is that if enough Venezuelans can be forced to die or to go into deep poverty, one of three things might happen: (1) Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro, in a crisis of conscience, will decide to resign and leave the country, in which case he could be replaced by a U.S. stooge, such as a Venezuelan man named Juan Guaidó; or (2) the Venezuelan military might oust Maduro in a coup and install a pro-U.S. military dictator in his stead, much like Chilean military strongman Augusto Pinochet; or (3) the Venezuelan people could rise up in a violent revolution and oust Maduro from power, even if countless lives would be lost in the process.

Thus, the reason that Republicans and U.S. officials resent Venezuelan refugees in particular is that they know that their exit from Venezuela provides a relief valve for Maduro. They want those refugees to stay in Venezuela, even if it means death for them, because then that will increase the chances of regime change. 

Moreover, it’s important to note that there is no upward limit on the number of Venezuelans that U.S. officials and Republicans (and Democrats) are willing to sacrifice in their attempt to achieve their political goal of regime change. Recall U.S. Ambassador Madeleine Albright’s infamous response when asked if the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children from U.S. sanctions on Iraq had been worth it. She said that those deaths were “worth it.” By “it,” she meant regime change in Iraq, the same political goal that U.S. officials hope to achieve in Venezuela by targeting the Venezuelan people with death and impoverishment. 

Sometimes I wonder what those devout-Christian Republicans would say if asked how they reconcile their support of U.S. sanctions on Venezuela, which target innocent people with death and poverty for the sake of achieving a political goal, with God’s second-greatest commandment, which is “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” My hunch is that they would respond, “Jacob, what God meant by that was one’s next-door neighbor, not people living thousands of miles away from my home.”

The irony is that U.S. officials condemn terrorists for targeting innocent people with death for the sake of achieving a political goal. That’s the same mindset that guides their sanctions.

This first appeared on Hornberger’s Expand Freedom blog.

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.