The Weekly Standard, Meet Piñata Ethics

The Weekly Standard’s Barton Swain introduced an idea for solving the crisis and rescuing the Venezuelan people, and called it “coerced humanitarianism”. Whether or not it can be done, there are always piñata flashbacks to keep us grounded.

Original art by @modográfico

Venezuela is in crisis and the world can no longer ignore it. As the country’s problems deepen, everyone gives their read, including The Weekly Standard’s Barton Swain: “The people of Venezuela are starving to death. Bands of hungry looters roam the streets of its cities, the currency is worthless, and no one can create wealth thanks to incompetent and corrupt regulators backed by the regime.”

By now, this is a well-known situation, with thousands leaving Venezuela any way they can. As constitutional options are virtually nullified by a government disobeying the very same laws it wrote, the question of how to rescue Venezuela gets increasingly far-fetched, convoluted answers.

Swain’s option? The U.S. will stop buying Venezuelan oil and perform “coerced humanitarianism”:

If Maduro’s government is starving its people, and if there is no feasible way to remove him and no one yet ready to take his place, the United States and its allies can aid Venezuelans directly by coordinating a massive humanitarian airlift (…) If nothing else, a large-scale and sustained airlift would (1) save some not insignificant number of people from starvation. It would also (2) humiliate a detestable regime that cherishes international prestige. And (3) an airlift led by the United States and joined by Canada, Britain, the E.U. (…) would convey an unforgettable message of friendship to the persecuted and oppressed of Venezuela.

Like many things about chavismo, this strategy is a Cold War relic already seen before, mutating for a post-Soviet world.

But regardless of how good an idea it is (and Barton is eloquent in a truly accurate portrait of today’s Venezuela), actually applying this is completely misunderstanding the context we live in.

Let’s talk about ethics. Piñata Ethics. Everyone that has been in a birthday party with a piñata knows bigger kids always push, kick and do whatever they can to grab as many goodies as possible. The candy sucks and in most cases they don’t even need the toys, but it’s free stuff. Smaller kids, meanwhile, need the help of an adult to get some loot.

What would happen if the adults at the party were in cahoots with the older kids and tried to keep as much things away from the smaller children as possible, deciding who gets what?

You can read the rest of Swain’s article at The Weekly Standard.

José González Vargas

Freelance journalist, speculative fiction writer, college professor, political junkie, lover of books and movies and, semi-professional dilettante. José has written for NPR's Latino USA, Americas Quarterly, Into and ViceVersa Magazine.