The Slatest

Trump Repeatedly Questioned Why the United States Couldn’t Simply Invade Venezuela

President Donald Trump gestures to the crowd after speaking at a salute to service dinner at the Greenbrier Resort on June 3, 2018 in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.
President Donald Trump gestures to the crowd after speaking at a salute to service dinner at the Greenbrier Resort on June 3, 2018 in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

We already knew President Donald Trump had thoughts about possibly maybe invading Venezuela. But it turns out those thoughts were persistent and it took a lot for the commander in chief to accept that going against the wishes of all the U.S. allies in the region was perhaps not the best way forward.

The Associated Press reports that aides were stunned when he brought up the issue at a meeting in the Oval Office in August. For around five minutes, those around him, including then-national security adviser H.R. McMaster, explained why it would be a bad idea. Trump wouldn’t take no for an answer and kept pushing back, noting that kind of action had worked in the past.

Despite the repeated explanations of why he should tamp down talk of military action, Trump persisted. He mentioned it in public and later to Colombia’s president. So when it came time to meet with the leaders of four allied nations in Latin America, his aides called on him to please avoid any mention of a military option for Venezuela. What were the president’s first words at the dinner? “My staff told me not to say this…”

It seems Trump eventually got the message when the Latin American leaders made it clear to him they would not view military action favorably and McMaster pulled him aside to explain in detail just why it would be such a horrible idea. But beyond this one episode, “critics say it also underscores how his ‘America First’ foreign policy at times can seem outright reckless, providing ammunition to America’s adversaries,” notes the AP. After all, talk of invasion is music to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s ears considering he often talks about how Washington wants to topple his regime to access the country’s oil reserves.