'Yes, We Can' Still Help Honduras
Talks in Costa Rica have deadlocked as expected, and former President Manuel Zelaya has stated, also as expected, that "no one can stop me" from returning to Honduras. Meanwhile, the United States continues to steer left.
The Obama administration did many things to cause the likely Honduran civil war to begin -- and did little to avoid it. Rather than rush to take sides with Zelaya by declaring his ouster a "not legal" coup and joining with other governments in demanding Zelaya's reinstatement, the Obama administration should at the very least have remained neutral. That would have meant voting "no" -- or even merely "present" -- at the UN and at the OAS which, with Obama's blessing, censured and imposed sanctions upon the Honduran interim government for ousting Zelaya in accordance with the Honduran constitution.
Obama, during his first months in office, tried bizarrely to gain favor with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. Obama blew it by thinking he could successfully employ sweet reason with Chávez and his ilk. Unless Obama dons a red beret, gets the Congress to declare a Che Guevara Memorial Day, appoints ACORN to supervise federal and state elections, and designates William Ayers as his new secretary of state, Chávez and his sort will continue to see the United States as their whipping boy and blame her for such occurrences as the "not legal" coup in Honduras.
The Obama administration should have told Chávez to stay out of Honduran affairs at the beginning; it did not. Although Chávez -- perhaps with justification -- views Obama as a joke or an ignoramus, nothing would have been lost by trying and something might have been gained.
Civil war is now imminent. Actions should be taken now to ameliorate the Honduran situation and to put obstacles in Chávez's path toward further encroachments upon the internal affairs of other countries. Otherwise, Chávez's efforts to extend his dominion throughout Latin America will increase and be even more successful than in the past.
As noted here and elsewhere, Chávez faces increasingly severe problems, both domestically and internationally. To some extent, the Honduran crisis is putting some of those problems into the background, but not to the extent that Chávez would like. The United States should make matters worse, rather than better, for Chávez.
The United States, until recently, regarded Latin America as being in her zone of influence. Unless the Monroe Doctrine has lost all meaning, Obama should take at least some little baby steps to honor it.
Obama should state publicly that he is disappointed that Costa Rican President Oscar Arias' mediation efforts failed and that Zelaya's return to Honduras is about to cause a civil war supported by Chávez and his fellow travelers. Doubtlessly, Arias anticipated these things but continued to favor Zelaya in ways leading to the very civil war he was to avoid. Even before the meetings in Costa Rica were to resume on July 18, Arias publicly rejected any settlement not resulting in the immediate reinstatement of Zelaya and the ouster of Honduras' interim president. Arias' position coincided nicely with that of Zelaya and Chávez and was not a propitious one for a mediator. There was no incentive for Zelaya to soften his position, even as the interim government softened its own.