What will President Trump mean for Venezuela?

So it’s supposed to be my job to help you figure out what the Trump presidency [[[deep shudder]]] will mean for Venezuela. Except I can’t do my job, because trying to predict how Donald Trump will behave in any give context is a lost cause.

On the one hand, it’s easy to see that putting a virtual Putin ally in the White House ought to take some of the heat off of the Maduro administration. Trump is openly skeptical of “democracy promotion” as a foreign policy tool. “A disaster!”

The kind of brute-force realism Trump has stood for might just push his administration to openly prioritize stability in Venezuela as what’s in the U.S. interest. “Stability” is code for letting sleeping dogs lie.

Then again, can you imagine Trump under a sustained SiBCI provocation campaign? Trump Derroga El Decreto Ya!? How easy is it to imagine him watching some crude Venezuelan propaganda video designed to rile him up and just flip out, deciding these swarthy types need to be taught a lesson? To me, that’s a terrifyingly real prospect…and U.S. intervention on those terms could do immense damage.

The bottom line: that Donald J. Trump is a great believer in the “Element of Surprise” — to the point of elevating volatility to a kind of National Security doctrine. Trying to predict what he’ll do in Venezuela — or anywhere else — would be a blunder.

We don’t know and we won’t know.

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