Today’s Times Online brings news of a resolution to the months-long crisis in Honduras, in which a constitutional democracy defended itself from a budding dictator, President Manuel Zelaya, by removing him from office, replacing him with the proper constitutional officials, and sending the would-be caudillo into exile. Elections would be held as scheduled and the interim president, Micheletti, had promised not to run. Because Zelaya refused to accept his ouster and had gathered allies in the hemisphere, a standoff ensued. Now that standoff is over, with the result that … Manuel Zelaya will be restored to power:
The interim government of Honduras has yielded to international pressure and agreed to allow the return to power of Manuel Zelaya, the ousted President who was toppled in a military coup four months ago.
The breakthrough came after renewed pressure from senior US officials who travelled to Honduras this week for a last-ditch effort to end the crisis.
“It is a triumph for Honduran democracy,” said Mr Zelaya after the rival sides agreed to a deal under which he may be reinstated as President within days.
Roberto Micheletti, the president of the interim government that took power after the coup on June 28, announced that he had agreed to reinstate his political rival.
“I am pleased to announce that a few minutes ago my negotiating team signed an agreement that marks the beginning of the end” of the four-month stand-off, Mr Micheletti said in a statement from the presidential palace.
Mr Zelaya was sent into exile at gunpoint on June 28 but returned secretly to Honduras last month where he has taken refuge in the Brazilian embassy.
For background on the crisis, see my earlier post.
This is another new low for American foreign policy under President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton. Instead of gathering the facts and then backing the defense of constitutional order in Honduras, the White House and Foggy Bottom jerked their collective knees and condemned the legitimate government, demanding Zelaya’s restoration, which left them in the grotesque position of allying the government of the United States with its sworn enemies in Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua, who were backing their anti-democratic protege.
Not at all phased by this diplomatic cluster-frak, the administration kept beclowning itself by cutting off aid to Honduras, denying visas to its officials to visit the UN (while granting them to Burmese dictators), and supporting diplomatic missions meant to strongarm the Honduran democracy into surrender. At long last, it worked. Congratulations on the win, Team Obama!
Let me make this as plain as I can: the President of the United States, the moral leader of the democratic nations of the world, and his chief diplomat allied his administration with some of the hemisphere’s worst dictators in order to bully a constitutional democracy and ally into accepting the restoration of a man who is definitely anti-democratic, anti-constitutional, and probably mad. And all this was done in the face of a finding by the Law Library of Congress that the removal of Zelaya was legal under Honduran law (PDF). (For a strong dissent, see here)
Forget constitutionality, forget rule-of-law, and forget supporting a democratic ally defending itself from dictatorial neighbors. All that matters to Obama and Clinton is that they got what they wanted and once again showed that they prefer thugs and tyrants to genuine democrats. Israel versus the Palestinians, Iran’s mullahs versus Iran’s people, Russia versus our Central European allies and Georgia, and now Venezuela versus Honduras. In each case the administration has hugged the enemy and slapped the friend.
The only good in this is that Zelaya is bound by the agreement to honor the election results and that command of the Army is taken away from him. On the other hand, the Obama administration still has three years to go, yet it’s already an embarrassing disgrace.
RELATED: That staunch defender of democracy, Senator John “Don’t Question My Patriotism” Kerry wants the Law Library of Congress to retract its report as unhelpful. In return, the Law Library has told Kerry to drop dead.
UPDATE: Reader Karateka has posted a darkly funny (and sadly accurate) political cartoon at his blog, Innovation and Politics.