It’s rare to see a foreign-policy crisis as morally unambiguous as the situation in Venezuela. Even the most roguish of rogue states can usually rely on a cadre of credulous equivocators to erect some dubious symmetry between the world’s abusive nations and their liberal critics. Those rationalizations are often well-received by those who confuse permissiveness with enlightenment. Nicolas Maduro’s incompetent and blood-stained regime has its Western supporters, of course, but they labor in his service without the benefit of moral ambiguity.

With thousands crowding the streets of Caracas, National Assembly leader Juan Guaido took the presidential oath of office on January 23. Citing the legitimacy of his claim, rooted in several articles of the Venezuelan constitution, the United States government immediately recognized his interim administration. Within hours, the U.S. was joined by much of the Western hemisphere, including Canada, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Argentina, and almost all Central America except Mexico. In the days that followed, the governments recognizing Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president expanded to include Austria, France, Germany, the Baltic and Benelux states, Portugal, Sweden, the U.K., and Denmark. Even Spain’s socialist government has broken with Maduro.

By contrast, the Maduro regime has maintained the confidence of such paragons of virtue as Cuba, Bolivia, China, Turkey, Russia, and Iran. What’s more, these authoritarian states are prepared to protect their investment in the Bolivarian socialist experiment. Along with millions of dollars in financial support, Russia has reportedly deployed mercenaries, hardened from their service in places like Ukraine and Syria, to Venezuela. The Iranian terrorist proxy Hezbollah, which has encouraged narcotics trafficking in Latin America from its perch in Venezuela for years, has promised to back the Maduro regime explicitly as reciprocity for Caracas’s financial support. Estimates vary, but there are hundreds if not thousands of Cuban military and intelligence assets operating in Venezuela supporting and protecting the regime, even as it brutally suppresses dissidents.

A clearer line distinguishing the forces of civilization, freedom, and classical liberalism from their opponents is hard to imagine. And yet, so many of the West’s nostalgic socialists are blinding themselves to the necessities of this defining moment. Instead, they’ve retreated into a comfort zone in which the United States is the real threat to Venezuelans’ aspirations to live free.

Many of America’s self-described Democratic Socialists in Congress have tacitly aligned themselves with Maduro by suggesting that Washington’s recognition of Guaido’s presidency was illegitimate (it wasn’t) and sanctions against the regime are responsible for Venezuela’s horrible conditions (they’re not). In Britain, several senior members of shadow Labour Party government led by Jeremy Corbyn signed a letter attacking this U.S.-led “attempt at regime change.” “Canada should not simply follow the U.S.’s foreign policy,” read a statement from Canada’s far-left New Democratic Party, “particularly given its history of self-interested interference in the region.” They insist that only “free and fair” elections in Venezuela should determine the country’s political future, making no mention of the myriad ways in which Maduro and Hugo Chavez before him irreparably corrupted those institutions.

It is heartening to see how many conventional politicians from both of America’s major political parties have embraced this popular expression of Venezuelan sovereignty. Democratic leaders in Congress have backed President Trump in his decision to extend diplomatic recognition to the Guaido administration. Their united front combined with the Trump administration’s diplomatic efforts to generate a critical mass of global support for Venezuelan political freedom has put Maduro in a defensive crouch. So far, his instinct to brutally subdue dissenters via the military has largely been suppressed. That’s no thanks to the so-called democrats who have provided Maduro with the encouragement and political cover to mete out retribution against Venezuela’s unruly citizens.

In a way, the Western socialist left’s timid statements of solidarity with Maduro are encouraging if only because their authors seem to know just how morally vacuous the outright endorsement of this regime would be. Instead, they’ve framed their support for the bloody socialist Mandarins in Caracas only as prudent opposition to American interference in Latin American affairs. Never mind that “America” in this instance should be understood to mean the whole of the Western world, including most of South and Latin America. Tankie sentimentalists were never much for logical and rationality anyway.

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