American leadership is needed to ensure global peace and stability

Last week, Russian military planes landed in Venezuela with approximately 100 personnel. Russian officials claim these are maintenance workers for military equipment sold to Venezuela in years past. However, United States officials believe there is a much more targeted purpose of these Russian personnel, which is to prop up the government of President Nicolas Maduro, whom the United States, along with more than 50 nations, no longer recognizes as the legitimate leader of Venezuela.

For many, the situation in Venezuela appears very similar to the Russia intervention in Syria, in which Russian support of President Bashar Assad helped him stay in power. Indeed, it now appears that Russia is seeking to do the same thing in Venezuela by attempting to exert influence in Central America in a clear violation of the Monroe Doctrine. Put simply, past and current Russian aggressions pose a grave threat to global order and stability, and American leadership is needed now more than ever.

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In his campaign, President TrumpDonald John Trump2020 Democrats spar over socialism ahead of first debate Senate passes .5 billion border bill, setting up fight with House 'Teflon Don' avoids the scorn of the 'family values' GOP — again MORE spoke consistently about changing relationships with allies and on the world stage. Trump has threatened to pull out of NATO, rewrite NAFTA, and end wars in the Middle East. On Twitter, Trump has continued these attacks, yet very little has actually been done. With the escalating conflict in Venezuela, it is vital that the United States reembraces an approach of assertive idealism whereby the our nation can and should look out for our own interests while continuing to serve as the global standard bearer of democracy.

The current approach of passivity that the United States has taken toward Venezuela is not enough. Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinTrump to reporter: What I say to Putin at G20 is none of your business Five things to watch as Trump heads to G-20 in Japan Trump administration's 'forced diplomacy' with Iran isn't working MORE is on the march, Maduro is regaining power, and the United States has been unsuccessful at both sanctioning the government and providing aid to the people. When discussing the situation in Venezuela, White House national security adviser John BoltonJohn Robert BoltonFive things to watch as Trump heads to G-20 in Japan Who is new White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham? Bolton presses Iran to withdraw forces from Syria, areas of conflict MORE noted that the Russian presence in Venezuela is a “direct threat to international peace and security in the region.”

This is no exaggeration and indeed the lack of action by the United States in Venezuela is indicative of the enduring weakness in American foreign policy. Earlier this year, Bolton was seen holding notes to send “5,000 troops to Colombia.” Nearly three months later, the United States has yet to take any firm action towards Venezuela. Russia has actively worked to fill the gap caused by American and international sanctions by refining Venezuelan heavy crude oil and providing aid. It is time that the United States and the international community step in to stop this.

The United States must impose harsher sanctions on Russia, Venezuela, and any person or nation that continues to work with corrupt Maduro regime. These sanctions must be dutifully enforced by the United States and our international allies. More than 50 nations across the world have recognized Juan Guaido as the legitimate president of Venezuela, yet it is the prominent authoritarian global powers of Russia, China, and Turkey that continues to support Maduro and his corrupt government.

The United States must work with our Latin American allies to support Guaido and ensure a peaceful transition of power in Venezuela. Imposing sanctions on Russia and Maduro, and ensuring that aid can get to the people of Venezuela, will ensure Guaido can finally take the power he deserves. To be sure, the conflict in Venezuela is not the only international crisis where American leadership is urgently needed. It has been troubling to watch as NATO alliances slowly crumble, which is alarming in light of the decision of Turkey to purchase a Russian air defense system.

Ultimately, it would not be possible to integrate this system into the broader NATO air defense system, which has increased suspicions that Turkey is an unreliable NATO member. Its purchase of the Russian S-400 air defense system comes at the same time that Turkey is purchasing the most advanced warplane in the American arsenal, which is the F-35. The United States is concerned that if Turkey operates both the S-400 and the F-35, Russian intelligence will better understand the F-35 and the best way to defeat it. The inability of the Trump administration to preemptively end the sale demonstrates its lack of leadership in foreign policy.

Moreover, this is indicative of the troubling trend of the United States slowly abdicating its role as a leader on the world stage. Further, Chinese aggression in Asia the South China Sea is another prime example of the necessity of American leadership in the international community. The recent Chinese attempt to flood the South China Sea with its ships is a clear attempt to seize control of these disputed waters from neighboring countries, and it is imperative that the United States works with local allies and use our Navy to stop this Chinese aggression once and for all.

It is abundantly clear that this vacuum in the international community has enabled authoritarian regimes like Russia and China to assert undue influence on the world stage and endangers global democracy. It is time for the Trump administration to put words into actions in foreign policy in a concise and deliberate manner. The United States needs to once again assert itself as a leader on the world stage to ensure that aggressions and threats to international peace and security do not stand anymore.

Douglas E. Schoen (@DouglasESchoen) served as a pollster for President Clinton. He is a political consultant, Fox News contributor, and the author of “Collapse: A World in Crisis and the Urgency of American Leadership.”