Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., posted a tweet on Sunday that seemed to argue for embattled Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro to meet the same violent fate as former Libyan Prime Minister Muammar Gaddafi.
The tweet, which shows a bloodied Gaddafi shortly before he was murdered in a coup d'etat, is especially notable within the context of Rubio's other recent tweets on American foreign policy toward Venezuela. Since the start of the weekend Rubio has tweeted about the Venezuelan crisis dozens of times, targeting everything from the Maduro regimes blockage of American humanitarian aid to the broader human rights abuses alleged to have occurred in that country. In some of those tweets, Rubio hinted that American military action might forcibly remove Maduro from power.
"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," Rubio tweeted on Saturday.
On Sunday he seemed to double down on that by posting, "Devastating headlines around the world today for the #MaduroCrimeFamily. Their international isolation will grow,the routes for evading sanctions will shrink & the willingness of many nations to support stronger multilateral actions to dislodge them has increased dramatically."
While Rubio was not explicit in connecting his Gaddafi tweet to Maduro's situation in Venezuela, he also tweeted a photograph of former Panamanian strong man Manuel Noriega after he surrendered to American military forces. On that occasion, at least, the revolution did not result in an execution.
Rubio isn't the only prominent Republican who has been calling for Maduro's violent removal from power. On Sunday Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CNN that "I'm confident that the Venezuelan people will ensure that Maduro's days are numbered." He also denied accusations that America has sent humanitarian aid to Venezuela as a way of forcing Maduro from power, instead arguing that "this aid went in ... at the request of the legitimate president of Venezuela. He said, 'Please bring food to my people. Please bring medicine to the sick that are here.' That's what we've been working on these past few weeks." The reference to a "legitimate president of Venezuela" presumably was meant to bolster Maduro's opponent, Juan Guaidó.
One person who has criticized President Donald Trump's threat of military intervention in Venezuela was former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who told Salon earlier this month that she felt his comments were an example of "diplomatic clumsiness."
"Well, he’s using it in that particular way because obviously what was going on in Venezuela was something that began as a popular movement by [Juan] Guaidó and the man has now declared himself President," Albright explained. "But I do think, and this is a little difficult to talk about, because I do think that some of the parts in terms of supporting what has happened are absolutely appropriate. Not only by the United States but also in conjunction with some of the Latin American countries, the so-called Lima Group [Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Lucia], who are supportive of what is going on, as well as Canada. I thought, however, that the introduction of using military force at that particular time is something that did give kind of an alibi or an excuse to Maduro to say that this is just intervention."