As reported by The Hill, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said that if Russia places weapons in Venezuela, the U.S. military may have to intervene — and that President Trump does not have to consult with Congress on the matter.
“I think that it could happen,” Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) told the Defense Writers Group. “You’ve got a guy down there that is killing everybody. You could have him put together a base that Russia would have on our hemisphere. And if those things happen, it may be to the point where we’ll have to intervene with troops and respond.”
When asked what type of military action he thought would be appropriate, Inhofe answered, “Whatever is necessary should they bring in some armaments on our hemisphere that would be, in the smart people’s opinion, something that would be a threat to the United States of America.”
“Then we have to take whatever action necessary to stop them from doing that,” he continued.
On Monday, a Russian diplomat clarified that Venezuela has not asked Russia for military assistance.
Pressure in Venezuela has been mounting since President Nicolás Maduro was reelected. Many in the international community see the election as illegitimate. In response, the Trump administration has recognized Juan Guaidó, the leader of the country’s National Assembly, as the interim president. Trump has also said that military intervention in Venezuela is an “option.”
National Security advisor John Bolton said that military intervention in Venezuela is not imminent, even as “all options are on the table.”
Inhofe compared the Venezuelan situation to 1980s Nicaragua, in which the U.S. backed the Contras against the Cuba-backed Sandinistas.
“I remember so well when Nicaragua was going through this same thing with Cuba,” Inhofe said. “And if we had not taken any steps at all, I don’t know where we’d be. We’d probably still be fighting in Honduras. So I think it depends on where they go and if they decide that they’re going to open up things so that Russia or some other, could be Cuba, probably Russia, would actually have armaments there that would be a threat to our country, yeah we’d have to, not go to war, but use force.”
Inhofe also said on Tuesday that he disagrees with committee Chairman Jack Reed (D-RI), who previously warned that Congress must be in the loop if any military action is planned:
“I would say consult, but I don’t think it’s necessary,” he told The Hill. “If there is a threat that reaches the threshold of the president having the ability, the constitutional ability of deploying troops, then that’s an unknown. We don’t know right now.”