This time Senator Lugar is in the right. He has written SecState Clinton asking a clarification as to the basis and goal of American diplomacy in the contretemps pitting two-thirds of the Honduran government--the judiciary and the legislature--against the third--deposed President Zelaya.
The question--and the response--are long overdue. To say that US policy regarding the Affair Zelaya is confused is akin to calling the yowls and screeches of a cat fight melodic.
Getting a grip on the ground truths in Honduras does not require a PhD from Georgetown University's foreign affairs institute. It is straightforward, simple, nothing to it.
Zelaya ran as a moderate conservative. He was elected. He moved sharply to the left. On his watch crime flourished along with poverty. Even Zelaya's base--large sections of the country's poorest citizens, lost ground rather than gained it as they expected.
Zelaya was, to put it undiplomatically but accurately, an inept boob in office. He nuzzled ever closer to Hugo Chavez, the self-proclaimed successor to Fidel Castro, and Daniel Ortega, the one time far, far left guerrilla leader and, more recently, elected president of Nicaragua. These friendships apparently ignited previously dormant ambitions in the heart of Sr Zelaya.
He suddenly discovered in the last year of his constitutionally permitted term that he was The Man of Destiny. To achieve that destiny Sr Zelaya proposed a referendum on the term limit provision in the Honduran Constitution.
Start of "crisis." The Supreme Court of Honduras said, "No way." The referendum was ordered squashed and the printed ballots were ordered seized. Zelaya, perhaps inspired by the ghost of President Andrew Jackson, who famously said when confronted with a Supreme Court decision with which he disagreed, "Mr Marshall has made his decision. Now let him enforce it." The hot tempered South Carolinian backed down quickly and obeyed the court order.
But Sr Zelaya was made of sterner stuff. He, in essence, told the Supreme Court, "Stuff it."
The Court, not at all amused, ordered the Honduran army to seize the ballots. Sr Zelaya sacked the Chief of Staff in an effort to prevent the seizure. The Court then deposed Sr Zelaya as apparently is provided by the constitution. It ordered the army to arrest the now ex-president.
The army did so. Probably with some degree of joy, at least in the higher ranks. Sr Zelaya was defenestrated via private plane.
The legislature joined the fray. Not only did it second the Supreme Court's action, it installed an interim government. Again, all relevant constitutional processes seem to have been followed.
The conservative elite of Honduras--not surprisingly--approved. So also did every media outlet. The Catholic Church did as well. So, and here is the surprise, did a large chunk of Sr Zelaya's old base, the poor peasantry and urban workers.
In the "we disapprove" column were Sr Zelaya's running buddies with Hugo Chavez baying in the vanguard. The UN became involved because Nicaragua's one-time ForMin is now the President of the General Assembly. The OAS also disapproved--as they usually do whenever a regime is changed without an election monitored by Jimmy Carter, unless, of course, the new regime is headed by a bona fide denizen of the progressive sort.
Most importantly, the US, or more correctly, the progressives of the Obama administration disapproved. Mightily. Fervidly. Vocally. Repeatedly.
In the past our protests to changes in government (provided they were not to the far left) were generally pro forma. A gesture for the record as it were. Then Washington got on with business as usual since that was the reason our government has a State Department.
Not this time. The Obama administration has huffed, puffed, hyperventilated as if the Honduran generals had taken over at gun point. This, as the record shows clearly, was not the case. All along the way, constitutional processes were followed by all hands--except Sr Zelaya.
This time the Obama administration has suspended aid. It has cancelled the diplomatic visas of Honduran diplomats. It has almost declared the interim executive of Honduras to be the moral equivalent of Saddam Hussein. One would be forgiven for thinking that perhaps Hugo Chavez was offering behind the scenes guidance to the administration.
Not having a PhD in clinical psychology, the Geek is not one to speculate on the motives of President Obama. However, it is of more than passing interest that the Nice Young Man From Chicago ran as a moderate liberal. Was elected on that premise. And, then turned sharply to the left.
There is an old cliche that holds, "By his friends a man is known." And, cliches always grow around a germ of truth.