"I happen to believe in the people and believe that the people are supposed to be dominant in our society. That they, not government, are to have control of their own affairs to the greatest extent possible with an orderly society." - Ronald Reagan

Coup coup ga joob.

Posted: July 19th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: International | 1 Comment »

Interesting headlines this weekend, at least in Spanish: “Several computers containing the results of the referendum Zelaya wanted to conduct are seized at the Presidential Palace”.

As reported in the Catalan paper Europa Press a number of computers have been seized from the Presidential Palace in Hondurus. Additional articles in the Honduran news service La Tribuna and in Nicaragua Hoy.

Meanwhile the English language press reports only on Zelaya’s ultimatum threatening to take “other measures” if the interim government refuses to reinstate him. It should be interesting to see how international opinion shifts in light of the new allegations, and whether suggestions of destroyed evidence will be seen to justify the shift and drastic action by the Honduran courts and military.

More of this, please.

Posted: July 11th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: International | No Comments »

I just read Obama’s speech and his interview with allAfrica. Bravo.

I have been generally underwhelmed by his past speeches; I found his race speech craven and self-serving, and his inauguration speech far too littered with petty barbs toward his predecessor. The tone and tenor the President strikes here is spot on, though – clear advocacy of western values and a focus on self-determination and individual responsibility.

Surprisingly I found much to agree with in terms of policy. His remarks to the effect that the purpose of aid must be “creating the conditions where it’s no longer needed” even put me in mind of Reagan speaking on welfare policy, and focusing on investment over aid is just plain smart.

I was also pleased to see him acknowledge Bush, if only for one aspect of his efforts in Africa. Sadly few seem to be aware of that aspect of his legacy, much less praise him for it.

Missing the point.

Posted: July 7th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: International | No Comments »

Speaking in Moscow, President Obama has doubled down on Hondurus:

America supports now the restoration of the democratically-elected President of Honduras, even though he has strongly opposed American policies.  We do so not because we agree with him. We do so because we respect the universal principle that people should choose their own leaders, whether they are leaders we agree with or not.

Whether or not they violate the constitution?  Whether or not they openly defy their courts and legislature?  Whether or not they threaten and punish their military leaders for refusing to be complicit in their designs?

Regardless of whether the removal was executed properly, there were clearly grounds and the circumstances were arguably grounds for expedience.  That the President pro tem is the lawfully designated successor alone should be grounds for recognition that this is no military coup.  If anything, it would seem more a young democracy defending itself.

It is difficult to see what compelling interest we have in supporting the restoration of Zelaya to office for the remaining six months of his term, if not a cynical attempt to secure the favour of more strategically important American countries.  It would have been more respectful of Honduran sovereignty to meet with their government before making incontrovertible pronouncements about the legality of their actions and to focus on conduct during the upcoming elections.

Jumping to conclusions.

Posted: June 30th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: International | 2 Comments »

Many have noted the apparent disparity between Obama’s muted response to the Iranian protests and his prompt repudiation of Zelaya’s exile from Hondurus.  Indeed, it’s puzzling and not a little troubling that the President is so quick to dismiss the ostensibly lawful actions of a foreign legislature and judiciary as a coup.

However, on reviewing his early statements on Iran, it is difficult to conclude inconsistency.  Though many summarize his stance as an aversion to “meddling”, his exact words are more nuanced: “It’s not productive, given the history of U.S.-Iranian relations, to be seen as meddling … in Iranian elections.”

He is clearly speaking to appearances in light of our prior involvement in regime change in Iran, and it isn’t a consideration to be taken lightly.   Whether one agrees with his approach, robbing it of an explicitely stated context is grossly disingenuous.

That still leaves open the question of why such a prompt and unequivocal support of the deposed leader, which many take as tacit approval of the man and his goals.  Though a consistent and at least marginally plausible explanation, it seems pat.  I suspect it actually reflects a broader emphasis on consequence over ideology; a politically cheap way of currying favour with larger powers.