As is often the case with these things, the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly raised more questions than answers. The two weeks were jam-packed with the events therein, churning out headline after headline. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu embarrassed himself by way of his shameless hypocrisy and lies about Iran’s nonexistent “atomic warehouse.” Somali Foreign Minister Ahmed Awad Isse gave a powerful speech informing the assembly of the huge strides his country has taken on the path towards stability.
I could go on and on. The developments were plenty and to go through all of them would be, to put it simply, excessive. Rather, I would like to focus on what transpired during the course of the two weeks specifically in regard to United States-Venezuela relations and what should be done going forward.
On Sept. 26, Nicolas Maduro shocked the world when, during a speech to the General Assembly, he stated that he is willing and ready to come to the table and meet with the Trump administration. Think of just how amazing that is. The Trump administration has been openly mulling the idea of invading Venezuela and overthrowing, and likely killing, Maduro since at least August 2017. While some might say he has been backed into a corner, to offer to speak with those who plot your demise is noteworthy, to say the least.
The Trump administration has yet to comment on the offer. To decline Maduro’s offer would only serve to expose the malevolence of their foreign policy even further. By all accounts, they are still set on the idea of a military intervention in the South American nation. What did you expect with John “the earlier you strike, the more damage you can do” Bolton as national security adviser?
Keep in mind the current administration is engaged in active bombing campaigns of eight different countries. They have also expanded the war in Afghanistan, which is both the longest and most unpopular war in American history. Moreover, the administration has pursued what essentially amounts to a scorched-earth policy in Iraq and Syria, leading to record numbers of civilian casualties. All this is just scratching the surface as it pertains to the scope of their evil.
Nevertheless, as we see with the current rhetoric on Venezuela, it is clear that the administration is still hell-bent on spreading death and destruction abroad. When addressing anti-Maduro protesters outside the United Nations building, Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said, “We are not just going to let the Maduro regime backed by Cuba hurt the Venezuelan people anymore.” If she had even one iota of honesty to her being, she would have concluded that statement by saying “now it’s our turn.”
The simple truth is that this administration does not care about Venezuelan lives. If they did, they would not be banging the war drums and calling for a coup — a move that would unleash untold horrors on a country that has already been through hell. If they really cared about Venezuelan lives, they would lift their crippling sanctions regime that has done nothing to target corruption but only foment instability.
If you want to help, then help. Invasion is not the way to do it. Attacking the independence of a sovereign nation-state is not the way to do it. It’s about time we start making friends instead of enemies.
This hypocrisy was addressed directly by none other than Maduro himself. He said, “Donald Trump said he was worried about Venezuela, he wanted to help Venezuela … I stand ready to talk with an open agenda on everything that he might wish to talk about with the United States of America.”
I must be honest, with the cast of characters currently running this country, prospects for peace do indeed look grim. I have little confidence in both bureaucrats and elected officials to do the right thing simply out of the goodness of their hearts. It is up to us — the people — to put pressure on them.
And so, I would like to conclude this column with a call to action. In the 1960s and early 1970s, college campuses were at the heart of the anti-war movement. University students across the nation stood up and protested against the immoral, unjust Vietnam War. The role this played in advancing the agenda of eventual disengagement cannot be underestimated.
Let those honorable men and women be our example. We need to rekindle that flame. I want to see students once again rise up in a public way to protest the horrors of war. As patriotic Americans, we cannot allow for our so-called leaders to drag us into another foreign conflict.
I say all of this with a tremendous amount of urgency. We must do something fast. And what better place to start than the University of Michigan, home of the leaders and the best? Organize!
Elias Khoury can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.