Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Obama's Immoral Choice

In choosing the forces of socialist autocracy in Honduras over the forces of law (the Honduran Supreme Court), order (the Honduran military), and democracy (the Honduran Congress), President Obama has probably shown us all his true colors. His brusque and imperialistic meddling in the affairs of Honduras in support of the attempts of the Castro regime in Cuba and the Chavez regime in Venezuela to destabilize Honduras in pursuit of their "war against the bourgeoisie," clearly shows Mr. Obama is no friend of democracy. Couple this with his practiced silence while Iranian demonstrators were being shot like dogs while clamoring for free and fair elections, and the depth of his antipathy to democracy becomes apparent. And make no mistake, there is no ambiguity to what is going on in Honduras:

Yesterday the Central American country was being pressured to restore the authoritarian Mr. Zelaya by the likes of Fidel Castro, Daniel Ortega, Hillary Clinton and, of course, Hugo himself. The Organization of American States, having ignored Mr. Zelaya's abuses, also wants him back in power. It will be a miracle if Honduran patriots can hold their ground.

That Mr. Zelaya acted as if he were above the law, there is no doubt. While Honduran law allows for a constitutional rewrite, the power to open that door does not lie with the president. A constituent assembly can only be called through a national referendum approved by its Congress.

But Mr. Zelaya declared the vote on his own and had Mr. Chávez ship him the necessary ballots from Venezuela. The Supreme Court ruled his referendum unconstitutional, and it instructed the military not to carry out the logistics of the vote as it normally would do.

The top military commander, Gen. Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, told the president that he would have to comply. Mr. Zelaya promptly fired him. The Supreme Court ordered him reinstated. Mr. Zelaya refused.

Calculating that some critical mass of Hondurans would take his side, the president decided he would run the referendum himself. So on Thursday he led a mob that broke into the military installation where the ballots from Venezuela were being stored and then had his supporters distribute them in defiance of the Supreme Court's order.

The attorney general had already made clear that the referendum was illegal, and he further announced that he would prosecute anyone involved in carrying it out. Yesterday, Mr. Zelaya was arrested by the military and is now in exile in Costa Rica.

That Obama can look at these facts and declare there has been a "coup" is nothing short of despicable.

I know for most Americans the troubles of the Honduran people don't amount to much. It's rare for the country to even get a mention in the newspapers far too few Americans read. But this matters. That Obama has taken the side of dictators in support of the creation of another dictator matters.

We have a President who seemingly believes less in the ideals of the United States then he does in the mad ravings of leftist autocrats.

It's wrong.


Anonymous said...

It is not at all clear who is the on the side of law and order and who is the dictator in Honduras.

Nonetheless the idea that any U.S. president has consistently supported an anti-dictator policy is risible. Beginning with George Washington's loan of almost $750,000 for arms to the French settlers in Saint Domingue against the slave rebels in the 1790s to George W. Bush working hand in glove with Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan and Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan in the 2000s and almost every President in between, the United States has consistently supported dictators so long as they're "pro-American."

In Latin America, the record of the United State supporting democracy and opposing dictators is poor, this is especially the case in Central America. The United States supported blood thirsty regimes in El Salvador’s, which killed ≈ 75,000 civilians (including Archbishop Oscar Romero on March 24, 1980) and in Guatemala ≈200,000 (after we overthrew the democratically elected Jacobo Arbenz in 1954). We supported the blood thirsty Contras against the Sandinistas who killed another ≈ 20,000. If we go beyond Central America, we could include our overthrow of Salvador Allende in Argentina in 1973 and our installation of Augusto Pinochet whose regime murdered and "disappeared" 30,000 more. If we look beyond Latin America, we could consider the overthrow of the democratically elected Mohammed Mossadeq in 1953 and the installation of the despotic Shah, our support of Mobutu Sese Seko in Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo), Suharto in Indonesia, and so on, and on.

It would be lovely for any U.S. president to pursue a consistent policy of supporting democracies and opposing dictators. Just don't hold your breath.

The Iconic Midwesterner said...

Well, in at least some of those instances you mention there were other over-riding factors. That a new country (i.e. the US in the 1790's) would support their principal benefactors (i.e. France) shouldn't be surprising. Hell, we were still a slave holding society at the time (even places in the North), so to expect Washington to side with the rebels in Saint Domingue seems more than a little ahistorical. Oh, it was wrong (of course) by we have to acknowledge the limitations of the times.

Likewise the Cold War influenced US foreign policy in many ways, many of them quite unsavory. Of course, it should be noted that all of these places were also being "influenced" by Soviet foreign policy at the same time. To claim that we should be constrained by moral imperatives while the USSR could pursue whatever amoral ends it wanted seems to be a recipe for disaster. This doesn't excuse all of the US choices of course. Some were incredibly stupid, short-sighted, and concerned places with almost no strategic importances to the United States, even if they were being run by little versions of Stalin.

That being said, what is constraining Obama today? The Cold War with Russia is over. The truth is nothing is constraining Obama and his choices. THis is an honest, if despicable, reflection of Obama's personal preferences. He obviously prefers the leftist destruction of democratic institutions by the likes of Chavez and Castro. Why else would he adopt their policies as his own?

I mean that. If you can come up with a constraining influence that is forcing Obama to side against the rule of law in Honduras I'd like to hear it.

Anonymous said...

Iconic Midwesterner,

You miss my point: supporting dictators is as American as apple pie. Your claim that Obama's support for dictators* is "unAmerican" strikes me as ahistorical. To be sure, American presidents paid lip service to democracy, but most (if not all) of the time, the U.S. supported "pro-American" regimes whether they were democracies or genocidal dictatorships and opposed "anti-American" regimes whether they were democracies or genocidal dictatorships. You neglected to explain the "constraints" put on Bush during the Global War on Terror that forced him to support dictators and you try to explain away American support for genocidal thugs in Indonesia, Iran, Guatemala, Chile, El Salvador, etc., but it is rather unconvincing. Allende was not a Stalinist, Mossedeq and Arbenz threatened only the Anglo-Iranian Petroleum Company and the United Fruit Company not the U.S., the East Timorese were nationalists, etc., etc. Moreover, I did not even touch upon American foreign policy during the era of "gunboat diplomacy" where the U.S. repeatedly invaded or overthrew Latin American regimes to support American business or military interests, democracy be damned. It seems clear to me the U.S. has never consistently promoted democracy and human rights in its foreign policy, but instead has advocated them only when it was convenient. In this regard, I suspect Obama will be perfectly consistent with Bush, Clinton, Wilson, Teddy Roosevelt, etc.

* For the sake of argument I will grant your point that the Honduran coup was a strike against a dictatorship (despite the fact that most coups in Latin America have worked the other way round and despite the fact that rousing a duly elected president from bed in the middle of the night at gunpoint and deposing him is hardly a constitutional way of resolving the dispute).

The Iconic Midwesterner said...

You make me sound as if I was making nothing but unqualified statements, which is simply untrue. (Notice the "some instances" "in many ways" etc.)

And yes I tagged the post under "Obamism is unAmerican", but I only stated in the piece that "Obama is no friend of democracy", which is pretty clearly borne out by events so far.

As for the the fate of Zelaya, every country has law enforcement that arrest people in the middle of the night when they know they are in residence, and by armed officers no less. The arrest warrent was issued by their Supreme Court with the OK of their legislature. How many other legal requirements could they fill? It is only the expulsion that is unusual, and I sort of wish they had simply held him for some sort of trial, but their Constitution doesnt call for one. But even if the expulsion is "unseemly" is there some requirment that Honduras meet with a US (or UK or French or whatever) standard of political decorum? Whwn you look at the history of the region and the ability of strongmen to gather a bunch of thugs who are only loyal to the person of the strongman....well I dont know if I blame the Hondurans for wanting this guy exiled.

As for exile in general, it has a very long history in politics, since at least biblical times. I'm not that shocked by it when I see it.