Venezuela’s military is ready for the looming invasion by the United States.

That was the message President Nicolás Maduro seemed eager to convey over the weekend as he presided over a military exercise that put his country’s troops and weaponry center stage in the midst of a political crisis.

“We’re as ready for an invasion as we’ve ever been,” Mr. Maduro said during a speech, standing in front of an armored vehicle.

The show of force is not meant to keep the Pentagon at bay. It goes without staying that the Obama administration has absolutely no interest in going to war with Venezuela. Rather, it’s a diversion tactic intended to deflate the effort to oust Mr. Maduro from office this year through a popular referendum.

The military could play a key role if the standoff between Mr. Maduro and the opposition intensifies. Although opposition leaders have not endorsed a coup, maintaining that the president’s ouster must come through legal means, they have called on the armed forces to act in accordance with the Constitution, rather than Mr. Maduro’s dictatorial edicts. The president recently imposed a state of emergency to throttle public demonstrations.

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