The cruise missile strikes against the Khan Sheikhoun air base in Syria seem to indicate that President Trump will enforce international rules after having demeaned them on the campaign trail.
Indeed, he derided international bureaucracies, decried trade agreements and swore he would never get his hands into the Syrian conflict.
Thus, when he ordered the attack on the facilities many imagined a departure from president Trump’s hard core geopolitical vision which surmises abstention from participating in conflicts that do not pose a direct threat to US national interest.
The Middle East, as we all too well know, is no longer vital to U.S. interests as technology has sensibly increased national hydrocarbons potential plus has economically enabled alternative technologies. All in all, it has moved the U.S. closer to energy independence. Also, the largest oil reserves are in the Western Hemisphere . . . under Venezuelan soil.
The strike in Syria however is less on the Middle East and more with sustaining international rules than anyone can guess.
The Assad regime is signatory of the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention which effectively bans the use of these weapons in warfare.
The Convention mandated to all signatories the immediate destruction of stocks of chemical weapons and the obligation not to ever develop them again.
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical weapons was established in the Hague, Netherlands, with the mandate to “ensure a credible, transparent regime to verify the destruction of chemical weapons; to prevent their re-emergence in any member State; to provide protection and assistance against chemical weapons; to encourage international cooperation in the peaceful uses of chemistry.”
According to these rules, Mr Assad should not have had the weapons in the first place — much less deploy them.
And this is where the emerging Trump Doctrineenters the stage.
No one better than him to know that rules are vital to development and that letting Mr. Assad get away with such monstrosity would invite all kinds of violations of all treaties and norms, thereby turning the world into a planetary jungle. And this was the triggering factor for the strike.
Rules are to be observed and when not, the U.S. will see that they are enforced. This seems to be the first and perhaps only pillar of the Trump doctrine in international affairs.
Translating this principle to our part of the world, this would mean that those nations that pay little heed to regional conventions will be the subject of U.S. intervention.
Given the high-profile discussions at the O.A.S. on the potential violations by Venezuela of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, application of the Trump Doctrine would entail intervention to redress democratic deviations should that nation be declared in violation of the Charter.
And while many believe that such intervention could mirror that of Syria, truth be told, that is beyond the options under consideration by the U.S.
Rebuff of the PDVSA sale of CITGO to Russia deal; sensible enlargement of the blacklist of drug kingpins, and perhaps a revision of the energy exchanges could be on the agenda.
These measures have drawn consensus between the legislative and the executive branches of the U.S. government. They were vocally presented by Russ Dallen at a recent hearing at the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the U.S. Congress.
Other hemispheric decision makers have also expressed their concern about letting Venezuela off the hook of compliance with the Democratic Charter.
Thus, lest Venezuela corrects course and begins implementation of the agreements brokered by the Holy See in December 2016: calling for an immediate release of political prisoners; convening general elections and facilitating the entry of U.N. bodies entrusted with the support of member nations undergoing humanitarian crises. Should these agreements be honored intervention could be avoided. Otherwise it will just happen.
Published by Latin American Herald Tribune on Monday April 10th, 2017.