Blindingly Obvious in Honduras

Obama has shown his political leanings very clearly in his choice of where to intervene in foreign politics: on behalf of an aspiring dictator in Honduras.

Can there be anyone left who is deceived as to what Barack Obama’s political leanings are?   He has made it clear in June 2009 exactly where his sympathies lie, in multiple ways.  Of course he supports the intrusive, commerce- and jobs-killing cap-and-trade bill, and the Obamacare health plan that starts out cutting Medicare, and continues the cutting of health care availability from there.

But one of the starkest and least-spinnable pieces of evidence we have received came this weekend, when Obama’s “meddling” in the political affairs of a foreign country became evident.  The desperate demonstrations of disenfranchised Iranians for more liberal government could not engage his interest, even to the point of expressing rhetorical support for their cause.  The best Obama has done so far is affirm that the Iranian government should not hack the people down in the streets.  A correct sentiment, that, and one that we all share – but clearly not the affirmation of the principles of constitutional government, honest and open government, civil rights, and government by the people that America, of all nations, should be making at this juncture; and in explicit support of the Iranian protestors.

Instead, where Obama has chosen to intervene abroad is regarding the hold on power of President Manuel Zelaya Rosales of Honduras, whom I profiled here last week.  Zelaya has been trying to get the Honduran constitution amended illegally, by referendum, so that he can remain in power beyond his single, constitutionally-allowed term in office.  The national supreme court has ruled his effort illegal, and the legislature concurs.  Earlier in June, Zelaya ordered the military to support his referendum by distributing the ballots for it, but the military, acting on the supreme court ruling, and with the backing of the legislature, has refused.  This weekend, Zelaya dismissed the chief of the Honduran armed forces, an attempt to remove him as an obstacle, and to ensure that the referendum ballots would be distributed by the deadline of 28 June Zelaya had set.  The military instead forcibly removed Zelaya from office, and turned the reins of government over to the legislature, which has elected a successor, Roberto Micheletti, to serve out Zelaya’s term (which ends in January 2010).  Zelaya himself has been exiled, and spoke yesterday from Costa Rica.

As previously outlined at The Optimistic Conservative, Zelaya’s attempt to circumvent constitutional procedure in Honduras, and maintain himself in power, has been the subject of grave concern in much of Central America.  His approach mirrors that of the left-wing dictators now installed in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador.  So it should probably not surprise us that Obama’s first reaction was not to avow a policy of non-interference, or avoid the appearance of meddling, but to affirm US support of the Zelaya government.  As this Wall Street Journal report makes clear, however, Obama’s diplomatic representatives in Honduras have actually been working to avert the removal of Zelaya for weeks.  This position has been unpopular with Honduran legislators, who have even spoken out against it in their political assembly.

WSJ reports that Obama is being advised to support the reinstatement of Zelaya, lest Hugo Chavez make political hay of his ouster and depict Central America as being under attack – presumably, one deduces, from the USA.  I wonder if it is possible for reasoning to be any more specious than this, since the record is clear that Obama’s embassy tried to avert the removal of Zelaya.  Given the demonstrated willingness of national leaders like those of Venezuela and Iran to simply lie about the existence and character of US involvement, a point does come when our policy has to disregard their propaganda campaigns, and concentrate on doing what is best for US interests, and those of our allies.

But it does not appear Obama really needs either this reasoning, or any prompting, to support Zelaya against his own people.  We will see in the coming weeks what concrete action he takes, as the UN meets, the Central American nations convene a summit in Nicaragua (which Zelaya will attend as the leader of Honduras), and the Organization of American States continues whatever efforts it has underway to resolve the situation.  But I myself have no doubt he will continue to support Zelaya.  (See additional reporting on events to date here and here.)

The most likely means by which he will support Zelaya is standing aside to allow Ortega of Nicaragua, and Chavez of Venezuela, to reinstate Zelaya by assisting Zelaya’s adherents in Honduras with arms and cash.  Direct involvement, with US personnel or operations, is not necessary to that outcome.  But by favoring the restoration of Zelaya, Obama makes it more likely.

The real-world consequences of Obama’s warm overtures to Hugo Chavez, at his first meeting with Latin American leaders, will continue to emerge.  We can hope that the democrats of Honduras are able to hold out, as they come under attack from those who want to install a dictator.  We can hope that the US Congress may be half as obstructionist about Obama’s support of radical left regimes in Latin America as it was about Reagan’s opposition to them.  But what we cannot hope is that Obama himself will at least refrain from intervening on behalf of leftist regimes.  It is clear what we can expect of him, and that is what he has already done in Honduras.

13 thoughts on “Blindingly Obvious in Honduras”

  1. Would it be outrageously leftish and angry to point out that removing the president by extra-legal means might not be all that different from allowing the dude to use extra-legal means to perpetuate his rule.
    An optimistic non-conservative might hope that the prersident would be rebuffed from overreaching, enjoined from employing the referendum, and replaced via election at the scheduled time.
    Perhaps I’m too blithely assumptuous in thinking
    that supporting such an outcome would better serve our interests than allowing for the all-too-usual military ouster.

  2. fuster, can you explain to me why it would have been more constitutional for Hondurans to be forced by Zelaya to go through an illegal referendum? Particularly when, as reported in the references at my “Emerging Vacuum” post, Zelaya was threatening his political opponents with armed thugs?

    The constitution is quite explicit about how its 8 core provisions can be amended, and popular referendum is not a constitutional method for doing that. The restriction of a president to one term of office is an article in those 8 core provisions. The legislature voted against holding Zelaya’s referendum, and the supreme court ruled it unconstitutional. Yet Zelaya was determined to hold it anyway, and unconstitutionally dismissed the chief of the armed forces this weekend in order to get the army to distribute the ballots for this illegal procedure.

    The military had the support of the legislature in removing Zelaya from office, on the basis that he was acting illegally and refused to recognize the authority of the legislature and courts — because his intentions were illegal — to override them.

    Can you explain to me in all this where is the “rule of law” argument for why Hondurans should be required to sit still for an illegal referendum?

  3. opticon, when I called the referendum extra-legal,did you take that as an endorsement?
    I would have sworn that my meaning was quite the opposite.
    Having the support of the legislature to exile the president through military force, is as savory as the desire of Chavez to go to war to re-instate him.
    Plainly put, both things suck.
    Legal redress for illegality is the proper route if you want to have a democracy.
    If we can check the aspirations of a wannabe dictator without going the man-on-horseback route, we’re one up and the Hondorans are as well.

  4. fuster — again, please explain what legal redress Hondurans had, since their president had refused to acknowledge the authority of the legal redress they had already tried.

  5. That should have read “what OTHER legal redress” Hondurans had.

    I note that Hondurans themselves regard the actions their legislature and military undertook this weekend as constitutional and legal.

  6. Investigation by the Honduran legislature and a finding that he was unfit to hold office.

  7. Then congratulations, because that is effectively what has happened. I urge you you read up on the months preceding this event, in which the other branches of the Honduran government have tried every remedy they have. If you read my earlier post, you knew already that something was probably going to happen this weekend.

    You would require Hondurans to be subject to an illegal referendum, in which only Zelaya’s supporters would have voted, rather than take action to prevent it. When the executive refuses to obey the law, to say that it is wrong for other branches to intervene is indefensible.

  8. Bless your large and warm heart, where did you pull that last paragraph from?

    How the *^^* is calling for legal intervention the equivalent of saying that it is wrong to intervene?

  9. Come on, fuster, I know you’re not dense. If the legislature and military had not intervened in the way they did this weekend, Zelaya would have used his supporters in the military to distribute ballots to his supporters in the population, and gone ahead with the referendum.

    Only his supporters would have voted in it, since it had already been declared illegal.

    Your willingness to intervene only AFTER the referendum had already been held is meaningless.

  10. Naw. Injunction, arrest if the ballot is held, trial.
    He didn’t have the law, the legislature or the courts. If he had the support of the military, he wouldn’t have been booted.
    This kind of extra-legal ouster gives him (and the other tin-pot dictators) a forum far wider than a trial would have.

  11. Bless your heart, fuster. I imagine anyone else reading this can see the circle we’re going around in.

    You’re wrong about Zelaya and the military, BTW. Of course the whole military doesn’t support him. But portions of it are his supporters. And they are armed.

  12. I think so also. We both would want him to fail. I, being an optimist would want him to be foiled through legal means and would have the storm occur within Honduras.
    You cast your lot with those unwilling to chance whether the Law would hold before the Mob.
    Yes, we’ve seen that movie.

  13. You’re a bad opticon for publishing elsewhere an opinion that arrest and trial was the way to go without printing something here. phhhhht.

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