07 July 2009

the Honduran coup

Reading these missives on Google Reader or a similar program not only enables you to get content instantly after I don’t post for a while but also read what I post impulsively and then take down. Included in that category was a post I wrote about the Honduras coup on the day it happened. My reason for taking it down is that it characterized Obama’s response immediately and I wanted to wait a bit to see what shape it would take.

I note that the nations of the world have reacted to the Honduran coup with an unequivocal respect for democracy, human rights, freedom of the press, and international law that has necessitated their withdrawal of ambassadors, and the US response lacks this unequivocal respect for those values, but overall I also note that the Obama response is a clear break from the bipartisan policies of past presidents towards the hemisphere. Obama’s response also suggests clearly to an analyst of circumstantial evidence that his circle had no part in the coup and has sought to respond to it in a way that strengthens the role of the Organization of American States while minimizing the inevitable partisan attacks and distortions of corporate journalists that will inevitably accompany any refusal to support death squads.

The corporate media pouts about how no one wants to pay to be lied to any more and then, instead of reporting that journalists in Honduras are being killed, assaulted, threatened, and arrested, writes Op Ed pieces about how Zelaya isn’t such a good president in their view, how lame he is for being arrested in his pajamas, how he must be a failure because he didn’t land his plane, etc. These columnists establish themselves merely as the entity that replaces a free press, and therefore don’t view the journalists being assaulted as colleagues because they’re much too honest to survive where they work.

What I’m most concerned about is the integrity of the elections in Honduras in November, since Zelaya is only going to be president for a few more months and the election, if administered fairly, will inevitably be a public referendum on what has just transpired between the two major parties there. Obama’s decision to pass this problem over to Costa Rican President Oscar Arias serves this end, as Arias will be forced much more than a US politician to abide by the wishes of a unanimous group of neighbors in Central and South America, expressed through the OAS, to hold fair elections.

Hugo Chavez suggests that US officials may have been involved in the coup after initially suggesting Obama may have been involved (a view which I never shared). Without question, the fact that a lobbyist group tied to McCain held a press junket today for members of the coup government and the compliance of the media suggested that at some point the ‘old guard’ of hemispheric operatives took to the cause of the coup. The US ambassador is a holdover from the Bush administration.

There may have been some correspondence at the beginning, but the coup seems to have sprung from a quickly developing, interpersonal struggle (like the Iran conflict) that suggests it was initially home grown and not hatched by the Otto Reich set. Defenders of the coup hoped that Obama would either be pressured to adopt their position, adopt a position that they could characterize as radical, or make a political blunder that they could attack. Obama’s response minimizes all three of those scenarios.

My guess is that if the elections are administered fairly, the conservative party will pay a major price for what they’ve done.

After a campaign which frequently invoked ‘change,’ this is the most significant change of the administration. Fuel efficiency regulations and other policy initiatives have been window dressing. The reason for this is that this change involves Obama expending little or no political capital, sacrificing little, and mustering a minimum of courage, while the indication that he is not going to use his authority to obstruct progress in Honduras and, previously, in El Salvador is nonetheless historically monumental.

Update 7/9: "...the Obama Administration will cut military aid to the Honduran government... the political value of this shift in U.S. policy is enormous. Some will try to interpret the Administration’s acquiesence to popular demands (elites never admit to responding to pressure) thru the foggy lens bureaucratic process. But anyone with any political sense knows that the cutoff of military aid would not have happened without the actions-phone calls, letter writing, protests, marches and other pressures... those of us opposed to the coup, those who are helping the Obama Administration do the right thing, should take at least a brief moment to breathe in a deep appreciation of our work. Despite a media blackout, despite opposing the policies of an extremely popular president, the workings of popular hemispheric power continue. And though we should continue actions, we should should continue them in the knowledge that these actions have an impact. Yes We Will. (Roberto Lovato)"

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