I came back late Wednesday from a 10-day trip to San Diego and Tijuana. Six days were for work, four were with family, but during all ten we worked volunteer shifts at a migrant shelter on the San Diego side. Then I came back to Washington just in time for the latest drama at the Colombia-Venezuela border. Over the past few days, I sat down and wrote about both of those experiences.
A lot of what I saw and heard on my latest border trip will stay with me for a while. What has stood out most, though, was accompanying about 30 families, on about a dozen different errands, through the San Diego airport, helping them get on the flights their relatives had purchased for them. I discuss it in my notes from the trip, but it’s hard to capture the experience of being the most important person in someone’s life for an hour or so—as we navigate ticket counters, TSA, and gates—at a time when his or her life, and that of his or her child(ren), is on a giant cusp between an often traumatic “before” and a hopeful but uncertain “after.”
Meanwhile, I fear that Saturday’s failed attempt to penetrate Venezuela with an aid shipment has given more fuel to U.S. hawks who would pursue a military intervention with no parallel in modern Latin American history. Today, I sat down at the keyboard and decided to “go there,” to look in some detail at what a U.S. military intervention might actually look like.
There are many ways it could go, but for me, the most probable path would be:
- It would start with an incident involving Colombia, and maybe hostilities between Colombia and Venezuela, before U.S. forces jumped in.
- It would involve casualties in the low thousands at least, and infrastructure damage in the tens of billions of dollars.
- Even if the intervention dislodged the Maduro regime, an insurgency could drag on for years.
- Negotiations about the terms of the Maduro government’s exit, like that proposed by an International Contact Group, offer the best way to thread the needle between Venezuela’s miserable status quo and a nightmarish military outcome.
My notes from the border are here.
My warning about how a Venezuela military intervention might go are here.