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Leaders of ‘Largest Libertarian Student Organization in the World’ Say Sanction Venezuela


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You would likely expect leaders of Students for Liberty to oppose the imposing of sanctions on Venezuela. After all, the organization claims at its website that it is the “largest libertarian student organization in the world” and libertarians are known for their support for a noninterventionist foreign policy. That noninterventionist approach includes opposition to imposing sanctions on other countries to bring about “regime change” or to force changes in government policies in those countries.

Well, the self-proclaimed libertarian organization has a surprise for you.

On Friday, Students for Liberty promoted via its email list a Foreign Policy article from June written by the organization’s Chief Executive Officer Wolf von Laer and Director of Alumni Programs Jorge Jraissati. The focus of that article, the email stated, is “the strategy that the international community should adopt in order to help Venezuela become a prosperous and democratic country once again.”

And what strategy do these Students for Liberty leaders say the United States government should adopt in order to alter the internal political situation in Venezuela? Sanctions. Yes, sanctions that libertarians commonly oppose as a tool for manipulating other governments. Libertarians also tend to understand that sanctions are acts of war. This nature of sanctions has often been highlighted by libertarian communicator Ron Paul, including when as a US House of Representatives member he spoke on the House floor in August of 2012 against sanctions on Iran.

Students for Liberty leaders von Laer and Jraissati, in contrast with Paul and other libertarians, embrace in their Foreign Policy article the imposing of sanctions on Venezuela. Their critique is just that the current sanctions against Venezuela should be tweaked in a manner they think will ensure the sanctions accomplish the goal of changing things in the country to von Laer and Jraisati’s liking. They concluded regarding US sanctions on Venezuela:
U.S. President Joe Biden faces a choice. The United States could continue with its current strategy, which will not lead to regime change but will provide [Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro] a convenient propaganda opportunity and push Venezuela closer to other authoritarian regimes.

Alternatively, the Biden administration could start using the sanctions strategically. The Biden team must stop looking at the sanctions as an end in themselves but rather as leverage to negotiate with the Maduro regime on human rights and economic freedoms. If the Biden administration looks at them that way, sanctions could be used to improve the individual rights of the Venezuelan people.
How about Biden, who von Laer and Jraissati wrote “faces a choice” regarding sanctions on Venezuela, just drops all the sanctions and embraces free trade with Venezuela? That is the libertarian option. The leaders of the self-proclaimed libertarian organization, however, offer no support of that option.
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