There’s nothing quite like a U.S. senator who sits on the Foreign Relations Committee tweeting out a cryptic death threat to another country’s leader, whether that leader is a dictator or not. This is particularly noteworthy when rumors already are swirling that the U.S. might be supporting a military plan to overthrow Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro.
On Sunday, Rubio tweeted before-and-after photos of the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi: one in which Gaddafi is very much alive, and another in which Gaddafi is bloody and dying, after taking shrapnel from a grenade tossed by his own defense minister and being stabbed in the backside with a bayonet by rebels before ultimately taking a shot to the head. The grisly photo is probably a still taken from one of several cellphone videos of Gaddafi’s 2011 capture, torture, and killing.
A couple hours earlier, Rubio had tweeted that international isolation of the “Maduro crime family” would grow, while the “willingness of many nations to support stronger multilateral actions to dislodge them has increased dramatically.”
On Saturday, after clashes at the Venezuelan border between pro-Maduro National Guardsmen and opposition activists led by self-declared interim president Juan Guaidó left two people dead and hundreds injured, Rubio tweeted, “After discussions tonight with several regional leaders it is now clear that the grave crimes committed today by the Maduro regime have opened the door to various potential multilateral actions not on the table just 24 hours ago.”
Two weeks ago, Rubio visited the site where hundreds of tons of humanitarian aid were stockpiled at the Simón Bolívar International Bridge, which connects Colombia with Venezuela. It was at that bridge, along with two other border crossings in Colombia and Brazil, where Venezuelan troops clashed on Saturday with those trying to move the aid into Venezuela.
He also tweeted a milder version of the dictator before-and-after thing, this time with the late Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega. One photo shows Noriega waving a machete, while another is his 1990 mug shot in Miami after being indicted in the U.S. for drug trafficking, racketeering, and money laundering.
It’s worth noting that to depose and capture Noriega, then-President George H. W. Bush invaded Panama, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of civilians. One of the justifications Bush used for the invasion was protecting human rights in Panama.
Update, Sunday, 6:34 p.m.: He’s still going: