Honduras: Revolt by the Book

June 30, 2009


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.

Bloggers (and others) are, of course, commenting about this, and Wellsy at Wellsy’s World put it remarkably succinctly:

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.



Iran: Dogma vs. Technology

June 30, 2009


 It’s a shame it had to come to this. That is, it’s a horrific shame that people are being slaughtered in the streets of Tehran in what will be (if history follows course) a hopeless struggle for the theocratic government of Iran.

Historically, when religion collides with technology, religion and/or fundamentalist dogma lose big time. Consider…

The Catholic Church’s tangle with Galileo Galilei‘s support and refining of Copernicus’  work on the heliocentric concept of our “universe” was a nightmare from a religious standpoint. Guess who won that one.

The “Flat Earth Society” didn’t hold up too well to the tens of thousands of images from NASA.

The traditional religious view of the age of the universe got absolutely skunked by carbon dating.

And so it goes, over and over and over again. Now for Iran… Theocracy has met the Blackberry. True, the Mullahs may crush this revolt. (By the way Mullahs, how do you like your prescription glasses? Geeze, I would have thought that given your religious connections, you could have taken care of failing eyesight by a more divine means… Whatever…) But even if they (the Mullahs) do crush the uprising, the kernel remains the same – this is no more over than Tiannamen Square is over.

Put another way: time, technology, and objectivity will trump dogma every time. It just takes time.

Alan Speakman

Plea for Help from Iran

June 24, 2009


Oh God, this is heart-wrenching! Where is Obama? Why isn’t he saying anything?

Security forces throwing people off bridges, beating old men, shooting people, killing students with axes.

“This is genocide, this is a massacre, this is Hitler…”

Please make sure everyone sees and hears this.


American History, Obama-rised

June 24, 2009


What’s this? President Obama talking tough about Iran? Could it be that the President-in-Training has received a spine transplant?

No, no such luck. But now that just about all the other Democracies of the free world have checked in with their condemnation of the Iranian government, Obama’s feckless “wait and see” response was beginning to look more and more impotent.

So, like a dime store novel everyone can predict, He stood at His carefully orchestrated (and oh, so predictable) press conference yesterday and used the strongest words yet to describe how He feels about developments in the Iranian protests. He staged an obviously rehearsed ” impromptu question” moment with a shill from the Huffington Post.  This enabled PrObama to use words like “appalled” and “outraged.” He even offered a tough expression almost as if He meant it. Yet He still “observed the moment,” rather than seizing it, once again preferring to “see how things play out.”

It got me to thinking: What if Obama had been President during other crises throughout America’s history? How different might have history looked? Well, let’s just see…

Boston, MA – (June 16, 1865 1775)

William Prescott: Mr. Obama, sir. The Redcoats have been occupying Boston now for nearly 2 weeks, fortifying themselves for battle at our expense. Now it’s been reported they are moving towards us and will be here shortly. We’re set up perfectly to surprise them sir and I strongly believe we can decimate them! I say we attack but not until we see the whites of their eyes! What say you?   

Barack Obama: Well, let’s not rush into this, Bill. I mean let’s look at the opportunity that lies before us. I have said repeatedly that I am willing to have a frank and meaningful dialog with their leader with no preconditions.

William Prescott: But sir, they have over 1,000 heavily armed troops marching towards us. That looks like a pretty serious “precondition” on their part, don’t you think? I say we start shooting as soon as we can see the whites of their eyes!

Barack Obama: Now hang on. Let me be clear: If we do that, that could conceivably be taken the wrong way and start a war. Look, they let that Paul Revere fellow go, didn’t they? I think it’s best for us to just wait here and see how this develops.

Washington, DC – (April 27, 1865)

Press Secretary Robert Gibbs (“PS Gibbs”):President Obama, It’s been nearly two weeks since President Lincoln was shot. Boothe has fled the city and is believed on his way out of the country. He needs to be stopped before he gets away!. What do you intend to do?

President Obama (“PrObama”): Well, I don’t want to be seen as jumping the gun here. You never know. He might just turn himself in. As for leaving the country, I think it’s premature to make that assumption. I think someone said he was scheduled to do Hamlet in Charlotte.  Let’s wait awhile and see how it all plays out. 

Washington, DC – (November 8, 1929)

PS Gibbs: Mr. President! Please! It’s been nearly 2 weeks since the stock market crashed. People have lost their life savings! Companies are shutting down left and right. There are literally people jumping out of high rise buildings to their death! What message do you want me to bring to the American people to calm their panic?

PrObama: Let me be clear: We don’t know for a fact that the people jumping out of buildings is related to the stock market crash. I think it’s important that we first rule out mass depression, or that maybe this is a mass suicide by some religious cult. I think it would presumptuous for us to make too many assumptions here that could send the American public the wrong message. If we’re not careful, we could intensify the very panic we’re trying to calm. Therefore, I think we should just wait awhile and see how it all plays out.

Washington, DC – (December 20, 1941)

PS Gibbs: Sir, it’s been nearly two weeks since the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Fires are still burning, the casualty count is enormous! A good part of our Pacific Fleet lies in ruins with most of it blocking the Harbor! What is your response? What will be your course of action?

PrObama:  Make no mistake: This type of attack is clearly unacceptable and the kind of thing that can strain relations with Imperial Japan. This, in turn, could jeopardize frank and honest discussions in the future. I mean, did any of us see this coming? Do any of us really know what’s behind this? If we rush into a response without knowing exactly what happened and why, we might be seen as meddling in something bigger. Accordingly, I think the best course of action is to wait and see how this plays out. 

Ah yes. There’s nothing like having a decisive leader who is able to make those crucial calls in time of crisis.

Gerry Ashley

An Open Letter To The People Of Iran

June 23, 2009


To my Iranian friends in your time of struggle,  As-Salāmu `Alaykum.

It is vitally important that you know you are not alone in your struggle for freedom from tyranny. It is a journey fraught with danger, loss, setbacks, and incredible victories. This is a journey that is more tolerable when taken together as a group, knowing you have the support of yet others around the world who have made the journey successfully.  

You have heard from the leaders of France, Germany, Canada and other countries who have announced they stand with you in your quest. I wish to apologize for the slow response of our President, Barack Obama, who is probably the leader you thought would be the first to stand with you. Although he has failed in this opportunity to be a world leader for freedom, please know that there are millions of us in America who do not hesitate to stand unequivocally by your side to let the world know in no uncertain terms that THIS is what we stand for in America: Free, honest elections, and above all, the right to voice our discontent with our leaders without fear of reprisal. The beauty of our democracy is clearly illustrated in the fact that although our leader may have faltered, we, the people do not. For the power of our democracy originates within its people and its Constitution, not its leaders. There are times like this when we take great comfort in that.

The road to freedom for all countries is long and hard fought. Each country must chart its own course, as you now do. While the journey has its dangers and difficulties, it is also rich in reward. And although we cannot be there in person to march with you, we will share your struggle through technology, letters, emails, tweets, blogs, phone calls, faxes. As you continue the journey, know this: The world will bear witness to your struggle, so it need not be done in darkness.

A truly inspiring American President, John F. Kennedy once said:

“We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty.“

It is in that spirit that I, on behalf of myself and all who live the dream of democracy, encourage you on your quest and remind you that you are in the hearts and prayers of freedom lovers everywhere. We stand before you as living examples that your goal of liberty is achievable.

May God be with you and protect you on your journey.

Gerry Ashley

Obama’s Support: Too Little Too Late

June 22, 2009


Iranian Protesters discover Obama’s words are empty in time of crisis

“To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

President Barack Obama, during his Inauguration Address, January 20th (this year).

Another test, another failure for the Obama Presidency.

The problem in speaking great words of wisdom as the leader of the free world is that people will actually expect you to back them up from time to time. This is a lesson Barack Obama has yet to learn.

When President Obama spoke the above, his speech was praised by many as “bold” and “purposeful” while establishing a new direction for the United States. There are a bunch of bloodied Iranian anti-government protesters who beg to differ.

With the turn of events following Iran’s Presidential election last week, we have witnessed undeniable proof of the President’s inexperience, resulting in the appearance that there is little actual substance backing his fine words.

Mousavi’s supporters felt they had uncovered a fraudulent election. It became clear early on that the election was meaningless. The Mullahs had pre-ordained Ahmadinejad the victor before the first ballots were cast. Mousavi’s supporters took to the streets, confident they could count on “The anointed one” to give them credence through his  verbal support.

None came. Perhaps it was Date Night or maybe Obama was practicing his punch lines for the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner.  Either way, as a crisis began, POTUS was AWOL.

Obama said nothing for several days. When Iranian security thugs began cracking down hard on the protesters, Obama somehow summoned up the courage to say, “I’m concerned.” Nothing more.

As the week progressed, Iran kicked out western journalists and tried to block Internet sites from covering the unrest. They also took to using brutal methods in the dark of night which, according to some who made their way out, included the use of axes against protesters.  Certainly now a statement would be forthcoming from Obama in an attempt to stop the violence against the protesters. And, for what it’s worth, they got it: “I’m deeply concerned.”

This is what happens when a rookie  with NO foreign experience and a limited understanding of his options runs the United States. And this is why the Presidency is no place for On-The-Job Training.

As William Bennett (who served under President Reagan and Bush 41) stated Sunday,

“He missed it. He missed the opportunity. He was feckless.”

Meanwhile other world leaders announced their repudiation of the use of violence, including Nicolas Sarkozy of France. So too did numerous journalists.

So too did the Congress of the United States, including Obama’s own party who didn’t hesitate to use the word “condemnation.”

Only after all of these statements came out, did Obama finally recover from his political laryngitis. But not before exposing to the world, that while he may be a great speaker when he has the luxury of choosing the date, time, and topic in advance, it would appear that in time of crisis, the great orator is not yet a leader, but a mumbling follower.

For in the end, Bennett had it right:

“We are the last best hope of earth. He is the President of the United States. If he will not side with these young people against a religious autocracy that is beating the hell out of people, what is the point of being the moral leader of the free world?”

Gerry Ashley

Update: Obama may have found his voice, but it came too late to save Neda, a young Iranian girl whose name means “voice” in Farsi. Michelle Malkin has covered her tragedy..

New CIA World Factbook and Iran

June 21, 2009

First, the new Factbook is out and available here. About Iran and what the following might mean…

Iranian breakdown by age:

  • 0 -14 years: 21.7% (male 7,394,841/female 7,022,076)
  • 15-64 years: 72.9% (male 24,501,544/female 23,914,172)
  • 65 years and over: 5.4% (male 1,725,828/female 1,870,823) (2009 est.)
  • Median age: 27 years

Expected education:

  • Grades 1 – 12 and at least 1 year of higher education

Urban population:

  • 68% of total population (2008)


  • Muslim 98% (Shia 89%, Sunni 9%)

Legal system:

  • Based on Sharia law. Iran has not accepted compulsory International Court of Justice jurisdiction

Alright… So that’s just a tiny statistical snippet. But is there anything in there that will offer insight into what’s happening in Iran right now?

  • The median age combined with the fairly high level of education accounts for all the info that we’re getting from Twitter, etc. Expect more communication and organization.
  • The size of the urban population is considerable, and in ratio about the same as France. Ahmadinejad has drawn strength from the rural poor… In this day and age, he’s clearly hitched his horse to a small and shrinking wagon.
  • The climate of Sharia law ensures that as long as these protests go on, expect more bloodshed. Also expect that the numbers presented so far will rise significantly.
  • 89% Shia [edited: 9% was typo]… These struggles won’t be lost on the 60% Shia of Iraq. Also keep in mind Iran’s close ties to Syria, Hezbolla, and Hamas. There’s a lot at stake here.

Bottom line? This may or may not be an immediate revolution… Whatever happens, it won’t be a revolution over the voting debacle. That seed has grown into the briar patch that is the role that the mullahs/military will play in Iranian governance. And quite frankly, given the technology and the youth of the country, the writing is on the Blackberry be it sooner or later.

Alan Speakman