Despite the War Powers Act, when it comes to the US declaring covert, not so covert or any other type of war, or merely "humanitarian intervention" on a foreign adversary, the US Congress has historically been utterly toothless and generally irrelevant to any progression of hostilities (especially when the US Military-Industrial Complex stands to benefit, which it has generously in recent years, and for proof look no further than the exponential rise in the stock of Boeing). Furthermore, even when Congress proactively has engaged to limit US intervention abroad, as it did in the case of Libya in 2011, Syria during the entire 2012-2017 conflict, and most recently Saudi Arabia's war on Yemen, its resolutions have been summarily ignored.
Which is why it was impossible not to smirk when moments ago House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel said that "Congress would not support a US military intervention in Venezuela" during a hearing on the crisis in Venezuela on Wednesday.
“US military intervention is not an option,” Engel said quoted by Reuters. "Congress decides when, where and how the US military is used around the world, and Congress would not support military intervention in Venezuela."
Actually, Mr Engel, it is usually the CIA that decides "where and how" the US military is used, and it is US defense companies that help prepare the "analysis" (usually in the form of ROI) used by the CIA.
That obvious fact, however, did not bother Engel who added that "I do worry about the president’s sabre rattling, his hints that U.S. military intervention remains an option. I want to make clear to our witnesses and to anyone else watching: U.S. military intervention is not an option."
While we applaud Engel's strict, and highly theoretical read of US laws, we urge him to focus on all those time when the War Powers Act was thrown out by the administration du jour, and as for a potential Venezuela intervention, the decision will ultimately come not from Congress, or even Trump, but rather Russia and China, and whether they decide to keep supporting Maduro's regime (as in the case of Syria) or if they concede that it's time for regime change.
As Reuters notes, assumptions over possible US military intervention began to emerge after US president Donald Trump said in an interview to CBS that such course of actions was "an option."
The crisis in Venezuela escalated after opposition head Juan Guaido declared himself the interim head of state, and was later acknowledged a number of countries, including the US, regional states and eleven EU states. At the same time, Russia, Mexico, China, Turkey, Uruguay and several other countries came forward to reaffirm their support for Maduro as the country's only legitimate democratically elected head of state.
So far, the tentative impasse has persisted, and even though the Maduro regime has been choked off from critical oil revenue as a result of US sanctions, while Venezuela's reserves continue to decline at an alarming pace, it has so far refused to concede power.