Commentary Magazine


Topic: Porfirio Lobo

A Losing Season

This report explains that the newly elected president of Honduras, Porfirio Lobo, is being widely recognized after fair elections with high turnout. However, it hasn’t been easy:

While the U.S. wanted to pressure the government led by interim President Roberto Micheletti into allowing Mr. Zelaya to serve out his term, analysts say Washington decided the vote was the most pragmatic solution.

“Elections were the escape belt,” says Eric Farnsworth of the Council of the Americas, a U.S. trade group. “It was the way to put Zelaya and Micheletti into the history books. We didn’t support either of those guys.”

But, of course, this is spectacularly inaccurate. We did strenuously support Zelaya and only reluctantly realized that this was a dead end. And it seems that some on the Obama team are still intent on throwing their weight around:

Arturo Valenzuela, U.S. assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, also kept the pressure on the provisional government to reconcile with Mr. Zelaya, saying more needs to be done to restore full democracy.

“While the election is a significant step in Honduras’s return to the democratic and constitutional order after the 28 June coup, it’s just that: It’s only a step,” Mr. Valenzuela said.

The arrogance is breathtaking, isn’t it? Well, I suspect that the Honduran government has heard quite enough about their own constitution from us. And what of the famous, unrevealed legal opinion of Harold Koh concluding that this was a coup? And the Obami who recommended this tactic? It seems that there’s some cleaning up to do in the administration. If the Notre Dame football team can clean house, certainly the Obami can. And their season has been far worse than that of the Fighting Irish.

This report explains that the newly elected president of Honduras, Porfirio Lobo, is being widely recognized after fair elections with high turnout. However, it hasn’t been easy:

While the U.S. wanted to pressure the government led by interim President Roberto Micheletti into allowing Mr. Zelaya to serve out his term, analysts say Washington decided the vote was the most pragmatic solution.

“Elections were the escape belt,” says Eric Farnsworth of the Council of the Americas, a U.S. trade group. “It was the way to put Zelaya and Micheletti into the history books. We didn’t support either of those guys.”

But, of course, this is spectacularly inaccurate. We did strenuously support Zelaya and only reluctantly realized that this was a dead end. And it seems that some on the Obama team are still intent on throwing their weight around:

Arturo Valenzuela, U.S. assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, also kept the pressure on the provisional government to reconcile with Mr. Zelaya, saying more needs to be done to restore full democracy.

“While the election is a significant step in Honduras’s return to the democratic and constitutional order after the 28 June coup, it’s just that: It’s only a step,” Mr. Valenzuela said.

The arrogance is breathtaking, isn’t it? Well, I suspect that the Honduran government has heard quite enough about their own constitution from us. And what of the famous, unrevealed legal opinion of Harold Koh concluding that this was a coup? And the Obami who recommended this tactic? It seems that there’s some cleaning up to do in the administration. If the Notre Dame football team can clean house, certainly the Obami can. And their season has been far worse than that of the Fighting Irish.

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Grudgingly on the Side of Democracy

Mary Anatasia O’Grady writes on the elections in Honduras:

Unless something monumental happens in the Western Hemisphere in the next 31 days, the big regional story for 2009 will be how tiny Honduras managed to beat back the colonial aspirations of its most powerful neighbors and preserve its constitution. Yesterday’s elections for president and Congress, held as scheduled and without incident, were the crowning achievement of that struggle. National Party candidate Porfirio Lobo was the favorite to win in pre-election polls. Yet the name of the victor is almost beside the point. The completion of these elections is a national triumph in itself and a win for all people who yearn for liberty.

Sadly, this triumph (and the resulting bloody nose for Hugo Chavez and his lackey Manuel Zelaya) comes despite — not because of — the Obami. They, of course, jumped to the conclusion that the effort to stave off Chavez’s influence and prevent an unconstitutional power grab was a “coup.” They proceeded to bully and bluster, to try to strong-arm the small democracy. It didn’t work. Slowly it dawned on the “smart” diplomats that they had backed a lunatic who had no domestic support within Honduras and that, just as their critics claimed, the only way out of this stand-off was to conduct and accept the results of a free and fair election.

O’Grady, however, is hopeful: “President Obama came to office intent on a foreign policy of multilateralism. Perhaps this experience will teach him that freedom does indeed have enemies.” Well, we can hope.

But in this case, the Obami, who had resisted the wishes of the Honduran people and its democratic institutions, wound up with egg on their faces. Apparently they hadn’t even read the multilateral tea leaves very well:

Almost 400 foreign observers from Japan, Europe, Latin America and the U.S. traveled to Honduras for yesterday’s elections. Peru, Costa Rica, Panama, the German parliament and Japan will also recognize the vote. The outpouring of international support demonstrates that Hondurans were never as alone these past five months as they thought. A good part of the world backs their desire to save their democracy from chavismo and to live in liberty.

What is disturbing is that Obama did not count himself among those desiring to back “their desire to save their democracy from chavismo and to live in liberty.” It’s hard to fathom what motivates the president and his team, and why they seem so reluctant to oppose our allies’ enemies. Perhaps they have so internalized the criticism leveled by America’s foes that they can no longer discern when the gang in Foggy Bottom is being “played” and what is in our own national interests. We do have them — national interests, that is — and it would be nice if the Obami recognized, articulated, and vigorously defended them, regardless of how loudly Brazil, Venezuela, and much of the rest of the “international community” squawks.

Mary Anatasia O’Grady writes on the elections in Honduras:

Unless something monumental happens in the Western Hemisphere in the next 31 days, the big regional story for 2009 will be how tiny Honduras managed to beat back the colonial aspirations of its most powerful neighbors and preserve its constitution. Yesterday’s elections for president and Congress, held as scheduled and without incident, were the crowning achievement of that struggle. National Party candidate Porfirio Lobo was the favorite to win in pre-election polls. Yet the name of the victor is almost beside the point. The completion of these elections is a national triumph in itself and a win for all people who yearn for liberty.

Sadly, this triumph (and the resulting bloody nose for Hugo Chavez and his lackey Manuel Zelaya) comes despite — not because of — the Obami. They, of course, jumped to the conclusion that the effort to stave off Chavez’s influence and prevent an unconstitutional power grab was a “coup.” They proceeded to bully and bluster, to try to strong-arm the small democracy. It didn’t work. Slowly it dawned on the “smart” diplomats that they had backed a lunatic who had no domestic support within Honduras and that, just as their critics claimed, the only way out of this stand-off was to conduct and accept the results of a free and fair election.

O’Grady, however, is hopeful: “President Obama came to office intent on a foreign policy of multilateralism. Perhaps this experience will teach him that freedom does indeed have enemies.” Well, we can hope.

But in this case, the Obami, who had resisted the wishes of the Honduran people and its democratic institutions, wound up with egg on their faces. Apparently they hadn’t even read the multilateral tea leaves very well:

Almost 400 foreign observers from Japan, Europe, Latin America and the U.S. traveled to Honduras for yesterday’s elections. Peru, Costa Rica, Panama, the German parliament and Japan will also recognize the vote. The outpouring of international support demonstrates that Hondurans were never as alone these past five months as they thought. A good part of the world backs their desire to save their democracy from chavismo and to live in liberty.

What is disturbing is that Obama did not count himself among those desiring to back “their desire to save their democracy from chavismo and to live in liberty.” It’s hard to fathom what motivates the president and his team, and why they seem so reluctant to oppose our allies’ enemies. Perhaps they have so internalized the criticism leveled by America’s foes that they can no longer discern when the gang in Foggy Bottom is being “played” and what is in our own national interests. We do have them — national interests, that is — and it would be nice if the Obami recognized, articulated, and vigorously defended them, regardless of how loudly Brazil, Venezuela, and much of the rest of the “international community” squawks.

Read Less




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