Trump and Venezuela
The puzzling trajectory of the Trump administration’s Venezuela policy can be understood when looking at the dynamics of a president that does not believe in diplomacy and has competing values in his foreign policy between “America’s first” isolationism, and neoconservative democracy promotion. In his first year in office Donald Trump largely ignored the U.S. State Department with the paradoxical result that career diplomats were free to take Venezuela policy in a more moderate direction than during the Obama presidency. However, Trump gained fuller control over the government’s foreign policy apparatus during 2018, putting it in the hands of neoconservatives such as John Bolton as National Security Advisor, Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State, and Mauricio Claver-Carone as Director of Western Hemisphere Affairs at the NSC. They have reconciled the tension between Trump’s isolationist and neoconservative strands by reviving the “Monroe doctrine” which says the U.S. has a rightful claim to hegemony in the Western Hemisphere. The Monroe doctrine effectively allows Trump to implement his isolationist “America first” policy in most of the world while engaging in neoconservative “democracy promotion” in Latin America.