The Obama administration is determined to destroy democracy in Honduras in order to save it.
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Even more bizarre, the State Department suggested that it might not accept the winner of the upcoming election. When asked if the U.S. would recognize the victor — the race is between Zelaya’s former vice president and the opposition party candidate whom Zelaya defeated four years ago — an unnamed administration official opined: “We understand that the elections loom in the non-distant future. We certainly want this resolved before then.”
State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley was even blunter: “Based on conditions as they currently exist, we cannot recognize the results of this election. So for the de facto regime, they’re now in a box.”
Actually, it is the people of Honduras who have been placed in a box. The interim administration has nothing to do with the election — the holding of which offers further evidence that there was no coup, at least as commonly defined. Balloting is scheduled for Nov. 29, with the new president to take over on January 27. There have been no allegations that the present government intends to fix the vote, or prevent the real winner from taking office. The Obama administration is threatening to deny the legitimacy of the president to be freely chosen by the Honduran people in order to pressure the outgoing authorities to give Zelaya four more months in office.
It is an act of desperation by those who want Washington to impose its will in Tegucigalpa. Vicki Goss of the Washington Office on Latin America said: “It’s critically important that the U.S. government has stated that they won’t recognize the November elections.” Yet this step would hurt not the supposedly illegitimate temporary regime, but its successor — headed by a president who would have replaced Zelaya even had he never been removed.
Moreover, what happens on January 27 if the Honduran authorities still say no? Would the Obama administration refuse to recognize the new government because the previous administration refused to restore to power a man no longer authorized to serve under any interpretation of the Honduras’ constitution? How then would Washington allow Tegucigalpa to escape the box — delay the inauguration of a new chief executive and bring Zelaya back for a few more months? Talk about being in a box: the Obama administration either would have to stick with sanctions which had lost their raison d’être or initiate a humiliating climb-down from its moral high horse.
Washington is attempting to destroy democracy in the name of saving it. And to do so by behaving like the worst sort of Yanqui-imperialist from yesteryear.
Even of the U.S. succeeded in imposing its will, the likely result would be to worsen the crisis. Observes Eric Farnsworth of the Council of the Americas, State’s action “limits our options, a violation of the first law of diplomacy, by taking off the table the one means by which the crisis could naturally be resolved.” Imposing an outcome from the outside, an outcome unsatisfactory to many Hondurans, via U.S. diktat likely would deepen political divisions within Honduras. Greater, not lesser, social strife likely would result.
Julia F. Sweig of the Council on Foreign Relations complains: “If they can’t get the cast of characters in Honduras to behave the way they want them to, how are they going to deal with Afghanistan or Iran?”
But Afghanistan and Iran matter in ways that Honduras does not. Nothing important enough is at stake in Honduras to warrant active intervention in a complex and emotional political struggle that concerns the people of Honduras, not America.
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