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Obama Is Wrong, Wrong, Wrong About Honduras

The president is wrong on the law, wrong on the politics, and wrong on the foreign policy.

by
Jennifer Rubin

Bio

July 12, 2009 - 12:57 am
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Then there is the politics within Honduras. It seems the Honduran people have figured out what Zelaya is up to and don’t like it one bit. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Honduran media published a CID-Gallup poll that showed 41% of Hondurans said the coup was justified, while 28% were opposed. The survey, conducted between June 30 and July 4, supported anecdotal evidence of anger at Mr. Zelaya. While thousands of Hondurans take to the streets almost daily to protest the ouster, larger crowds often demonstrate in favor of the coup.

Prominent leaders of the Catholic Church have also taken the view that the ouster of Zelaya was appropriate. Tegucigalpa Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez (who was touted as a candidate for Pope in 2005) and eleven bishops have spoken out, declaring Zelaya removal was “fully backed by Honduran law.” This report explains:
Rodriguez said Zelaya’s bid for a nationwide referendum that could have extended presidential term limits violated an article in the Honduran constitution, which states that anyone who seeks to change a prohibition on presidential reelection immediately loses any office they hold. . . In an interview this week with CNN en Espanol, Rodriguez took the direct approach to addressing Chavez: “I want to take this opportunity to say that we totally reject the meddling of the Venezuelan president. We are a small country, but a sovereign one.”

So while Obama might find the ouster of Chavez’s “mini-me” to be “illegal” and “unacceptable,” the Honduran constitution and people don’t agree.

And then there is the foreign policy side of the equation. In yet another effort to apologize for past American sins, Obama was quick to weigh in against the “coup.” Now this was neither a coup (see Estrada) nor an American coup, but let’s not gets hung up on technicalities.

What Obama was clearly doing was trying to escape the image that he was merely one more American president in conflict with anti-American voices in the region. He wasn’t going to let a little bit of Chavez-emulation deter him. He is, we have come to see,  in the business of being “Not George W. Bush.” And in this case that meant siding with the anti-American Zelaya and his patron Chavez.

That, of course, has put the Obama administration at odds with the Honduran people and the “rule of law” which Obama always invokes when he is not really following the applicable rule of law. So finding themselves in a bit of a bind, the Obama team punted to the former president of Costa Rica who proceeded to begin negotiations. He then penned an odd column in the Washington Post in which he explained that problems like this occur when “governments divert to their militaries resources that could be used to strengthen their democratic institutions.” (Actually in this case the military was defending democratic institutions, but let’s hope his mediation skills are up to the task of finding an acceptable solution.)

So Obama on this one got the law, the politics, and the foreign policy wrong. And, perhaps realizing as much, he has had to reverse course (or force his secretary of state to do so) and get out of the limelight. That is the most positive development yet. Really, if you are going to “meddle” it is best to know something about the country in which you are meddling and the regional implications which will flow from it.

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Jennifer Rubin blogs at the Washington Post.
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