Unsurprisingly, President Donald Trump hasn’t held back when speaking about the political crisis in Venezuela. Before the United Nations General Assembly, he demanded the full restoration of “democracy and political freedoms” in the Latin American country. A month earlier, he stunned many by stating that he would not rule out a military intervention. His UN ambassador, Nikki Haley, has echoed the fierce rhetoric, declaring that the U.S. will not tolerate a “dictatorship” in Venezuela.
Observers are forgiven if they are perplexed. How is the administration’s position toward Venezuela consistent with its oft-stated insistence that every country has the right to be sovereign? Or with Trump’s promises that the days of Washington meddling in the domestic affairs of other countries are over?