Since President Trump took office, the American energy sector has been experiencing a boom thanks to policies that promote industry and technological advances in drilling. The administration’s tax cuts and deregulation have helped increase our energy exports to a whopping 3 million barrels per day and propelled us to surpass Saudi Arabia and Russia to become the world’s largest crude oil producer.
Becoming the world’s biggest crude oil producer is a miracle to our economy and national security and is something that would have been unthinkable, even 3 years ago during the Obama Administration.
Despite these good policies that have led to remarkable results, challenges to our country’s energy security remain. Liberals continue to push burdensome regulations that stifle industry and, even further beyond our control, geopolitics and international instability continuously threaten American consumers by triggering high gas prices. The recent oil field attacks in Saudi Arabia are just one example of the kinds of world events that jeopardize the economic results this administration has worked so hard to achieve.
Another example of this kind of instability is the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. This country, home to the world’s largest known oil reserves, has for over a century been one of America’s top energy partners. Before socialism depleted its wealth, Venezuela’s economy was six times that of China and, in 1950, the country had the fourth largest GDP in the world. But thanks to socialist policies and a thuggish regime headed by dictator Nicolas Maduro, their currency has become virtually worthless and the Venezuelan people face unbearable living conditions. Their human rights are being violated every day in a state governed by lawlessness, while countries like China and Russia continue to attempt to prop up the regime and its socialism, in order to access the country’s vast energy resources.
To ensure Venezuelans are at the helm of their own economic recovery and that Americans’ energy security remains shielded from the opportunism of our adversaries, the United States must continue the longtime energy alliance between our two countries. As it stands, this alliance is the only glimmer of hope for Venezuela’s economic rebuilding in a post-Maduro, post-socialist future. By halting this partnership and forcing American energy companies out of Venezuela now, we undermine the ability of the Venezuelan people to eventually rebuild their economic future.
If that were to happen, Chinese and Russian interests would also act quickly to fill the gap. Along with the world’s largest oil reserves, our opponents would gain access to the billions of dollars’ worth of infrastructure investments our energy sector has made in Venezuela over the past 100 years. By forcing American companies out of Venezuela, we would simultaneously reduce American energy security and increase that of our adversaries who, instead of assisting in Venezuela’s rebuilding, will exploit the country’s resources for their own benefit. We must keep our decades long energy alliance with Venezuela and its wonderful people alive after Maduro’s reign inevitably comes to an end.
Currently, the Trump administration has allowed these American companies to maintain a presence in Venezuela, but this waiver is set to expire in October. Some naively think that pulling our companies out will hasten Maduro’s demise, but this view discounts the greater international narrative at play in favor of a potential, but far from guaranteed, short-term foreign policy victory. More likely than Maduro’s socialist regime falling, forcing American companies out of the country would likely guarantee his socialist reign continues on, propped up by China and Russia, who of course would be more than willing to keep him there in exchange for access to Venezuelan oil.
In short, forcing American companies out of Venezuela is the wrong path forward for both Venezuela and the United States.
President Trump should be commended for taking a strong stand in opposition to Maduro’s brutal dictatorship and in favor of America’s energy future. He’s been nothing short of a champion for freedom and capitalism during his first three years in office. And so long as we don’t self-sabotage by handing China and Russia the ammunition they need to permanently prop Maduro up, his socialist regime will ultimately fall, as all socialist regimes eventually do.
Andy Surabian is a Republican political and communications strategist. He previously served as Special Assistant to President Trump and Deputy White House Strategist. Prior to that he was War Room Director on President Trump’s 2016 Presidential Campaign.