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Honduran Democracy Takes The Fall

Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes:

This administration needs a win. Or more accurately, it can’t bear another loss right now. Most especially it can’t afford to be defeated by the government of a puny Central American country that doesn’t seem to know its place in the world and dares to defy the imperial orders of Uncle Sam.

I’m referring, of course, to Honduras, which despite two months of intense pressure from Washington is still refusing to reinstate Manuel Zelaya, its deposed president. Last week the administration took off the gloves and sent a message that it would use everything it has to break the neck of the Honduran democracy. Its bullying might work. But it will never be able to brag about what it has done.

The Obama administration, of course, blew this one, backing the wrong horse and leaping to the conclusion that there had been a “coup” without regard to the Honduran constitution, the wishes of the Honduran people (to prevent a Chavez-like power grab by Zelaya), and the views of church officials and business leaders, who all back the actions of the Honduran supreme court and legislature in upholding the constitutional term-limit provisions.

But instead the Obama administration is doubling down, seeking to pressure the Honduran government to accept Zelaya by rallying regional support against the interim government and cutting off critical U.S. aid.

It is the antithesis of a respectful foreign policy — the listening and humble approach that Obama promised. The desire to “restore America’s image” did not, it seems, extend to Honduras. Apparently, respect for leaders is reserved for the likes of North Korea and Iran, while democracies get bullied. But to what end is all this aggression directed? Hugo Chavez must be delighted that we are destabilizing constitutional restrictions on his followers. And a faithful ally is thrown under the Obama bus, the victim of an ignorant and misguided policy.

It is hard to fathom what Obama hopes to achieve, but perhaps (as O’Grady suggests) he simply wants to show he can “win” at something. And thus the full force of American foreign policy is reduced to sparing Obama from yet another humiliation. We are, as O’Grady says, now reduced to the role of the “neighborhood thug” — which was precisely the image which so spooked the White House into opposing the interim government. There have been more dangerous and serious missteps by the Obama administration, but few are as shameful as this one.


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