The U.S. should take heed to understand how qualities of temperance, diplomatic tact, and moderation can yield far more productive relationships in Latin America, but if national U.S. consensus chooses to eschew the aforementioned qualities for more belligerent ones, such as a backing a coup, then the U.S. should understand how Latin American historic memory magnifies the consequences and execute a decisive strategy around this understanding.
Taken as a whole, this work offers a critical means to analyze coup success and introduces a layer of analysis that has been greatly needed. Above all his work underscores the need for scholars to work harder at differentiating between the motivation behind a coup and the probability of its tactical success.
The political turmoil in Venezuela has captured the attention of the United States for several months, and the recent introduction of Russian troops into the country has solidified a place for the ailing petrostate on front pages nationwide. As American eyes are drawn to the ongoing unrest in the streets of Caracas, it is worth noting this is not the first time the United States has been concerned by European intervention in Venezuela.
A stable Latin America is not only well and good for U.S. political and economic interests in the Western Hemisphere, but also for Latin America itself. The deteriorating situation in Venezuela provides U.S. competitors with an opportunity to exploit the country’s mounting political, economic, and humanitarian troubles. Political and economic turmoil in the Western Hemisphere offers an added dilemma for the U.S. to face on top of its present global engagements. Military force might help achieve stability if Venezuela’s government were to collapse. However, a wide array of complex challenges will inevitably challenge any application of force in Venezuela that goes well beyond the capability and capacity of the U.S. military. As a result, any U.S. response to a breakdown of Venezuela’s government will require not only a whole of government but also a multinational approach to solve this plausibly complex scenario.
It is important to view the civil-military problematique through a lens slightly different from that of the United States looking at itself. In this regard, Trinkunas has offered a useful addition to the literature on civil-military relations. And as a history of political transitions, coups, democracy, and civil-military relations in Venezuela from 1945 to 2004, he does not disappoint. But the book doesn't live up to the author's aspirations.