When citizens took to the streets of Iran in protest of a massively fraudulent election, President Obama was slow to respond in any substantive manner. He was “troubled” and “concerned” and didn’t want to “meddle” in Iranian affairs.
When the Honduran government sent the military to remove then-President Manuel Zelaya both from office and from the country, President Obama’s response was swift, if completely misguided, given the circumstances surrounding Zelaya’s removal:
“We believe that the coup was not legal and that President Zelaya remains the president of Honduras.”
The truth is, it was most definitely not a coup or an overthrow of the Honduran government; it was in fact and in deed, the government protecting the country’s constitution. In a bid to emulate Hugo Chavez, his thug buddy to the south, Zelaya attempted to circumvent the Honduras constitution in the time-honored tradition of would-be dictators: he tried to rescind the constitution’s term-limit so that he himself could be re-elected again… and again… and again.
As Mary Anastasia O’Grady wrote today in the Wall Street Journal:
That Mr. Zelaya acted as if he were above the law, there is no doubt. While Honduran law allows for a constitutional rewrite, the power to open that door does not lie with the president. A constituent assembly can only be called through a national referendum approved by its Congress.
But Mr. Zelaya declared the vote on his own and had Mr. Chávez ship him the necessary ballots from Venezuela. The Supreme Court ruled his referendum unconstitutional, and it instructed the military not to carry out the logistics of the vote as it normally would do.
The top military commander, Gen. Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, told the president that he would have to comply. Mr. Zelaya promptly fired him. The Supreme Court ordered him reinstated. Mr. Zelaya refused.
Calculating that some critical mass of Hondurans would take his side, the president decided he would run the referendum himself. So on Thursday he led a mob that broke into the military installation where the ballots from Venezuela were being stored and then had his supporters distribute them in defiance of the Supreme Court’s order.
The attorney general had already made clear that the referendum was illegal, and he further announced that he would prosecute anyone involved in carrying it out. Yesterday, Mr. Zelaya was arrested by the military and is now in exile in Costa Rica.
The narrative is very clear here. This was not a coup. This was not a military junta. This was a nation protecting itself when faced with actions by a leader who wished to subvert the law of the land with his own rule.
The government of Honduras seems to be doing absolutely everything by the book, to prove to the world the legitimacy of its actions, despite the censure of Chavez and his pals down south, and sadly, the condemnation of our own President.
There’s a curious nature to the full-throated denunciation of Zelaya’s ouster by Obama when coupled with his timid response to the Iranian democracy protests. While I appreciate on one level that “meddling” in Iran could be seen as destructive American interference, supportive words cost nothing, and the CIA is being blamed in Iran and Honduras regardless anyway…
He need not put himself squarely in the corner of a leftist President clearly interested in aggregating more power for himself – unfortunately, that’s exactly what he seems to be doing as the goal seems to be to get Zelaya back in charge. It’s a stance that puts him in agreement with Hugo Chavez, who has threatened military action, and it’s a side Obama frankly shouldn’t be on, especially in this case when the waters are murkier than most people think.
Perhaps the next time our learning-on-the-job President is tried, he’ll figure out how to come down swiftly on the side of democracy and free and fair elections, instead of supporting mullahs and would-be socialist dictators. We can only hope.