Since World War II, presidents have often seemed fearful of not appearing “tough enough” toward militant strongmen. After all, nobody wants to repeat the performance of Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister whose naive appeasement is often blamed for Adolf Hitler’s rise.
But Hitler was ... well, Hitler. And since belligerence and hostility can quickly backfire, they should be reserved only for dangerous madmen who pose a clear and present danger to the U.S. Among the threats to our national security, an oil-rich rabble-rouser in Venezuela isn’t nearly as troublesome as the threat of nuclear proliferation from states such as North Korea, Iran and Pakistan.
While any U.S. outreach to Maduro might turn out to be a waste of time, it’s still the right thing to do. He deserves the respect due any head of state, if only as a show of respect to the Venezuelan people.