Update: Ed Morrissey has some explanation of the difference between a coup and a military impeachment. Though it might be still a supportable action, he calls it a coup nonetheless.
It took Obama a looooong time to stand with the rest of the free world in condeming the injustice of the Iran elections and the abuses of its citizens in the wake of protests , but he quickly hopped to more direct intervention in Honduras this week when its military staged a coup to depose of Honduran president Zelaya, taking a stand not with the rest of the free world, but with fellas like Hugo Chavez and…Fidel Castro.
The Washington Times has the summary:
In an unusual concurrence of views, the Obama administration and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said they still recognized Mr. Zelaya as Honduras’ president. The State Department called the events an “attempted coup” and urged Mr. Zelaya’s “return and restoration of democratic order.”
U.S. officials said they were engaged in multinational efforts to resolve the crisis, through the Organization of American States and European allies. At the same time, Washington wants a resolution “free from external influence and interference,” a senior official told reporters during a conference call organized by the State Department.
The official, who spoke on the condition that he not be named, said the U.S. Embassy in Honduras was “consistently and almost constantly engaged in the last several weeks working with partners” and that U.S. officials were “in contact with all Honduran institutions, including the military.” However, the military stopped taking the embassy’s calls since the coup attempt, the official said.
The WSJ has more:
The Obama administration and members of the Organization of American States had worked for weeks to try to avert any moves to overthrow President Zelaya, said senior U.S. officials. Washington’s ambassador to Honduras, Hugo Llorens, sought to facilitate a dialogue between the president’s office, the Honduran parliament and the military.
The efforts accelerated over the weekend, as Washington grew increasingly alarmed. “The players decided, in the end, not to listen to our message,” said one U.S. official involved in the diplomacy. On Sunday, the U.S. embassy here tried repeatedly to contact the Honduran military directly, but was rebuffed. Washington called the removal of President Zelaya a coup and said it wouldn’t recognize any other leader.
The U.S. stand was unpopular with Honduran deputies. One congressman, Toribio Aguilera, got prolonged applause from his colleagues when he urged the U.S. ambassador to reconsider. Mr. Aguilera said the U.S. didn’t understand the danger that Mr. Zelaya and his friendships with Mr. Chavez and Cuba’s Fidel Castro posed.
On the surface, things look fair. I mean, perhaps there were good reasons that Obama interfered in Honduras but was reluctant to even utter strong words with Iran. After all, a democratic government like the U.S just can’t stand idly by during a military coup of an elected official. But the devil, as they say, is in the details. Things begin to look pretty fishy when you probe further. Ed Morrissey comments:
Zelaya was violating his country’s constitution with his referendum that would have, Chavez-style, repealed term limits on the presidency. The Honduras Supreme Court ruled the referendum illegal, and the military refused to distribute the ballots. Instead of backing down, Zelaya fired the head of the military, which precipitated the ouster.
Clearly, democracies cannot abide armed overthrow of elected governments, but that presumes that the government acts within the rule of law. Zelaya had no intention of doing so, and his flagrant violations and attempt to accrue personal power made that crystal clear. Zelaya had begun seizing dictatorial powers, and the military responded by arresting him. The military then handed power back to the legislature rather than keeping it for themselves, which makes this less of a coup and more of a military impeachment.
In other words, Zelaya was blatantly abusing his power, and this prompted the military to arrest him. Rick Moran puts his finger on key questions:
Further, the military was acting under the orders of the Honduran Supreme Court although they apparently exceeded their authority by whisking him away to Venezuela. And finally, it was Zelaya’s actions in violating the constitution, ignoring a ruling by the Supreme Court that any referendum be put on would be illegal, and the universal belief in Congress, the military, and much of the populace that eventually, he would little more than a stand in for Chavez if he was allowed to carry out his illegal referendum that sealed Zelaya’s fate.
And yet our president, acting contrary to American interests, chose the route of least resistance and condemned what many Hondurans believe was a restoration of constitutional order. The president will find himself in familiar territory with this condemnation – Castro, Ortega, and other Latin American leftist thugs also condemned the coup. Maybe someone could look it up but when was the last time we were on the same side with Cuba on any international issue?
Folks, this is yet another red flag about this president. I’m hoping that people will start to take notice. I’m not holding my breath.
I’m not railing against Obama’s policy on the Iran election. Different post, different time. I think his eventual words, even though they came late, were quite appropriate. You can see a video here:
But his decision to intervene in Honduras has left me scratching my head. If any intervention or condenmnation was called for, I’d think it would sway in the other direction, assisting the Honduran congress, supreme court, and people to restore constitutional order.
And I also am left wondering about the glaring disparity of reactions. I have the same question Morissey has:
Why did Obama decide to intervene on behalf of a “president” obviously abusing his power and to prevent the military from removing him once he started acting like a dictator? He didn’t put nearly that much effort into assisting Iranians who have gone into the streets and died to protest the mullahcracy that oppresses them.
It is very telling that the Obama administration worked hard to step in on the wrong side of democracy in Honduras, but was very, very reluctant to even take a verbal stand in Iran, where people were getting beaten and shot by a wicked government. Maybe some detail will surface in the next few days such that I will see the wisdom in his actions. But I’m not holding my breath on that either. It’s pretty damning when the only guys you are “standing” with are fellas like Chavez and Castro.