Greg Grandin in The Nation:
Donald Trump has been hot for Venezuela for some time now. In the summer of 2017, Trump, citing George H.W. Bush’s 1989–90 invasion of Panama as a positive precedent, repeatedly pushed his national-security staff to launch a military assault on the crisis-plagued country. Trump was serious. He wanted to know: Why couldn’t the United States just invade? He brought up the idea in meeting after meeting.
His military and civilian advisers, along with foreign leaders, forcefully dismissed the proposal. So, according to NBC, he outsourced Venezuela policy to Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who, along with National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, began coordinating with the Venezuelan opposition. On Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence called on Venezuelans to rise up and overthrow the country’s president, Nicolás Maduro. On Wednesday, the head of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, the heretofore unknown 35-year-old Juan Guaidó (whose political godfather is, according to The Washington Post, jailed far-right leader Leopoldo López), declared himself president. Guaidó was quickly recognized by Washington, followed by Canada; a number of powerful Latin American countries, including Brazil, Argentina, and Colombia; and the United Kingdom.