Wednesday, July 1, 2009

What A Great Story!

Hollywood should do so well... the coup in Honduras has all the elements of a great story. Filled with intrigue, irreverent humor, and drama, the story has made headlines all over the world. For little Honduras!!

So picture this:

We have a leader who is looking at his Latin American neighbors and seeing that some of them have extended their stay in power (notably Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador). Power is good, power is fun -- it's always great to stay as long as you can, right? Add to that the fact that in the middle east, a certain country has made serious headlines by fixing the vote. This Honduran leader had wheels turning in his head, apparently, and decided that it's high time to put out a referendum to the people to extend his stay... no need for term limits here, no matter what the good constitution of Honduras might say! 

I guess the headlines everywhere and the current trend in Latin America spooked some folks, though... and an organized coup ensued. And what wicked scheme did these rebellious souls devise? Did they kill the leader in his sleep? Did they poison his coffee? NO. They took him out of bed in the middle of the night and, in his jammies, flew him to Costa Rica. This left the President of Honduras complaining to the press the next day in his nightclothes -- saying that he's the president, for goodness sake, and to return him to his office! (The only thing that could make this more hilarious would be if he had somehow been infused with helium right before his speech.)

Of course, our president has sided with the Honduran president (along with the dictators from Latin America). And the press goes wild... Obama is so smart! He's so wonderful! Chavez is trying to accuse the United States of being involved in this coup -- and Obama has completely diffused him! Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna... And diffused Chavez may be. I'm not discounting that... According to the NYT, "The Venezuelan president will not forget that the C.I.A. had knowledge of the coup that ousted him in 2002 yet did nothing to prevent it, and that Washington has a recent history of providing aid to groups that are critical of his government, opening the United States to charges of destabilization." They go on to say, "But for now, at least, Mr. Obama's non-confrontational diplomacy seems to have caught Mr. Chavez off balance. 'Chavez is beginning to understand that he's dealing with someone with a very different approach than his predecessor,' said Michael Shifter, vice president of the Inter-American dialogue, a Washington policy research group."

Clearly, Obama has a different approach... to everything. But here's the bigger question: Why? It's fine to have someone come in with a better approach and a higher class of diplomacy. Frankly, I will freely admit that the Bush administration lacked diplomatic ease... to state it nicely. And, to put it bluntly, George W. Bush simply lacked communication skills. (He didn't even communicate effectively with his own people, much less people abroad.) However, Obama doesn't simply come in with a new skill - he comes in with a new set of beliefs. And, given the fact that he doesn't come down on the side of America even within America itself, it doesn't surprise me at all that he's lining himself up with dictators like Chavez in support of a president in Honduras who is trying to make himself into a dictator.

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