Reflections on Whether US Military Intervention Is Justified to Remove Nicolás Maduro

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Venezuela was once the wealthiest country in Latin America and one of the leading exporters of oil. Today, Venezuela has the highest inflation rate worldwide and is suffering from political dysphoria. To fully understand the present situation, one must begin with Hugo Chávez’s presidency. Chávez reduced economic inequality and funded many social programs by taking advantage of the surge of oil prices in 2014. He used the economic boom to spend billions in favor of the poor, the demographic keeping him in power. He rigged the economy to allow Venezuela to overly depend on oil, creating a fragile situation, if the oil prices ever fell, so would the state of Venezuela.

Nicolás Maduro was elected after Hugo Chávez’s death and the worst-case scenario came true: oil prices plummeted. Due to Chávez’s structuring, all the social programs became impossible to sustain, and the country accumulated a major deficit leading to hyperinflation. In addition to this economic spiral, crime and poverty increased. The Venezuelan people heavily blamed the order of the government for the condition of the country. Consequently, protests increased while Maduro’s popularity decreased. Although Maduro is not recognized as the legitimate president by over 50 countries and several international organizations, he remains Venezuela’s political power figure. This is due to his manipulation of centralizing power within groups that support him. Maduro was re-elected in May of 2018 in a controversial election in which his opposition was inhibited from running. He created the National Constituent Assembly, with the power to rewrite the Venezuelan constitution and the role of supreme power within the republic. This left Maduro with no opponents in power. These conditions have allowed for an authoritarian government to replace the once democratic government. The US does not recognize Maduro as president and has funded rival figures. Juan Guaidó declared himself acting president in January, he is supported by the US and other international leaders but has no realistic power. Maduro broke off relations with the US due to their recognition of Guaidó as president. In addition, Trump has threatened to increase the economic sanctions placed on Venezuela, which will only worsen their food and medicine shortages.

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The question now is whether military intervention by the US to remove Maduro is justified. My stance on this topic is that it is not. I will use jus ad bello and natural law as the foundation to my arguments. I do believe that there is a just-cause; the wellbeing of the Venezuelan people. Currently, they are starving, sick, and poor. Protests are resulting in mass injuries and death. It can even be argued that the situation risks escalation into a civil war. The military cannot protect the people because they are massively loyal to Maduro due to his frequent pay rises. However, none of the other jus ad bellum requirements truly justify war.

For a reasonable chance of success, the US is undeniably powerful and if they went into the efforts of invading Venezuela to defeat Maduro, they would be successful. However, the problem is not so simply solved. While Maduro may be seen as the causative reason for the changes in government, this is an illusion. Maduro is the main public actor of power within Venezuela, leaving him in a position to be the sole target of political and economic blame. However, one cannot ignore the system he is creating. It does not need Maduro specifically, any actor that values control over freedom will suffice. Therefore, simply removing Maduro does not fix the current system which is set up to favor authoritarian rule instead of democratic rule. Maduro does not hold all of the power. He has strategically fragmented it in systems that support his hierarchal position.

According to the general concept of natural law, every individual deserves and is entitled to live their life with their best interest in mind. Natural law focuses on the morality aspect of law structure rather than the policy. It is the yearn for one’s best interest to influence the policy and this can only happen from the population directly affected, no matter if a foreign entity has a moralistic approach, they will never be able to overcome wanting to benefit themselves, which compromises the population they are trying to help. If America removed Maduro from power, they would be responsible for creating a new government. It would be impossible and illogical for America to not influence the new government in a way that obviously benefitted it. This would create tension and threaten legality and the success of any new government. This is also in clear conflict with the point that the ultimate goal must be to reestablish peace. That might be the initial and public motive, but America is powerful because it is smart in taking advantage of every opportunity possible. Rebuilding a weak but democratic country with massive oil reserves is a potential opportunity that cannot be overlooked.

Right authority is also questionable, while Trump is the head of state for America, the power of his decision-making should not determine other countries, especially to this severity. This also builds the foundation for the proportionality argument. The Venezuelan people need to be helped. One side of the argument is that there are more deaths occurring now than would occur with a military intervention. However, the idea that war would be better than the absence of it due to less potential deaths is not sufficient. It is an assumption that only considers violence. America is not in a position to assume that the causalities of a war would be fewer than the causalities of no intervention. In addition, if this come from outside of Venezuela and it goes wrong, there is a clear place of blame. In order for a government reformation to truly work, the idea must come from within Venezuela. A bottom-up approach supported by top-down actors is the most effective solution. A movement beginning within the people, the ones directly affected by the state of the economy, is more natural and would build more momentum than a foreign intervention. The intervention from an actor such as America, would deprive the people of the responsibility to carry out tasks, this in turn would decrease their feeling of significance and political efficacy.

In conclusion, America can best help the Venezuelan people through supporting the opposition and sending food and medicine aid to those suffering. A military intervention is not justified by the Just War Theory or by the natural law argument.

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Reflections on Whether US Military Intervention Is Justified to Remove Nicolás Maduro. (2022, October 28). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 12, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/reflections-on-whether-us-military-intervention-is-justified-to-remove-nicolas-maduro/
“Reflections on Whether US Military Intervention Is Justified to Remove Nicolás Maduro.” Edubirdie, 28 Oct. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/reflections-on-whether-us-military-intervention-is-justified-to-remove-nicolas-maduro/
Reflections on Whether US Military Intervention Is Justified to Remove Nicolás Maduro. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/reflections-on-whether-us-military-intervention-is-justified-to-remove-nicolas-maduro/> [Accessed 12 Jun. 2024].
Reflections on Whether US Military Intervention Is Justified to Remove Nicolás Maduro [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Oct 28 [cited 2024 Jun 12]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/reflections-on-whether-us-military-intervention-is-justified-to-remove-nicolas-maduro/
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