Amidst travel and my appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee this week, I shared my thoughts on two issues in which the United States must consider their role.

For the first time in 17 years, Chavismo did not win the nation-wide election in Venezuela. After suffering crippling economic recession, the citizens of Venezuela showed their fading support for the movement led by Hugo Chávez, looking to the oppositional forces instead for change. The opposition now claims the majority of seats in parliament—a drastic shift in the political landscape of the country. With more than 80 percent of Venezuelans believing that the country is moving in a dangerous direction, these electoral results are not surprising. Yet, is this the end of the Chávez legacy?

Perhaps not yet—I’m sure that the current regime will do all it can to reduce the power of the opposition, threatening the state of “democracy” in Venezuela. With this momentous change in the country’s power dynamics, what’s next? And what is the role of the U.S.? Here’s an excerpt from my op-ed in Foreign Policy:

Washington needs not to emerge as a singular critic of Venezuela. The United States should be part of the chorus, not the cheerleader. President Maduro has consistently been able to paint the United States (or, as both he and his mentor, Chávez, styled it: the “evil empire”) as the font of all of Venezuela’s problems. With Chavismo now under pressure from these electoral results, he will instinctively lash out at the United States. Thus, Washington’s voice needs to be part of a larger chorus from the region, led by the Organization of American States, former presidents like Colombia’s Andrés Pastrana, and other national government officials like the newly elected centrist president of Argentina, Mauricio Macri.

Our collective message should be simple: The vast majority of the more than 30 nations in the Americas, both north and south, are now democracies — a huge improvement over the 1970s and 1980s, when most were run by military juntas. We cannot afford to slip backward in a nation as important as Venezuela. These elections are an important step forward and deserve our support.

Furthermore, as the sea ice recedes in the Arctic, the international community faces both opportunities and risks. The United States must step up as a leader of the international response to the Arctic crisis, working to increase Arctic infrastructure through our recent developments. Read my co-authored op-ed with Professor Berkman in Proceedings Magazine.

As always, thanks for reading.

Comments are closed.