Thursday, December 30, 2010

Instructive Foreign Relations: Honduras

A year and a half ago I became aware of a coup that occurred in Honduras and I suspected malevolent things because I had heard that the coup was directed by certain military units that had been trained by the School of the Americas at Fort Benning. Its students are notorious for their human rights abuses perpetuated in service to US hegemony.

I expressed my suspicion to a certain right wing acquaintance that will remain nameless and was surprised to hear his enthusiastic support of the coup. This was a restoration of order. The President was simply violating the Constitution. I thought it was strange that this person would express support of something such as this, but I said little in response because I didn't know much.

Recent Wikileaks disclosures shed light on the situation and I think help illuminate how good Americans are duped to support nefarious behavior and also how US foreign policy via violence tends to further the interests of the corporate world.

The basic facts are as follows. President Zelaya was a wealthy citizen that was elected President, but drifted from conservative viewpoints to more socially democratic viewpoints during his tenure. This is unacceptable. As in Cuba socialism is a grave threat to capitalistic designs. If Cuba is allowed to pursue socialism unfettered it will present itself as a model to other states, especially in states where the distribution of land and other wealth greatly favors the propertied classes. The poor and underprivliged may demand opportunities for a decent living and take matters into their own hands. This is something to be feared by the powerful and wealthy who want more for themselves and less for everybody else.

Zelaya proposed polling the public to ask them if they would support modifying the Constitution to permit a President to serve without term limits. For this he was deposed by the School of the Americas trained General who has ushered in another expanded series of human rights abuses.

World reaction was swift. Virtual unanimity that the coup was illegal and that the democratically elected President should be restored. There were just a couple of exceptions. Namely, the US and Israel. They stood against the world and were friendly towards the new regime. In the case of the US this was with firm support amongst GOP lawmakers. The GOP often doesn't even pretend to care about democracy and order but rather service to the corporate world.

Wikileaks has now revealed
that in the opinion of top diplomats at the US Embassy in Honduras the coup was clearly illegal despite a foot dragging unwillingness to recognize it as such by the State Department. The cable details the arguments put forward by the coup's defenders and refutes them.

So I sent this information to my acquaintance thinking that he'd say something like "Interesting. I was obviously misled." I don't know why I'm always so optimistic. Instead I'm sent this right wing puff piece by Mary Anastasia O'Grady. This supposedly shows that yes, the coup was legal despite the cable from Wikileaks. That guy at the embassy knows nothing. The world knows nothing. The case for Zelaya is flimsy.

To me a cursory reading of the cable makes it clear that O'Grady isn't remotely addressing the substance of the cable. The cable basically says that following legal procedures means you must charge Zelaya with violating the Constitution and you must give him an opportunity to rebut the charges. If he's found to be guilty then the consequences would follow. But you can't just assert that he's guilty without giving him any due process. It would be as if Chinese trained militants simply said "Obama has started wars in Pakistan and Yemen without Congressional authorization and has therefore violated the Constitution, so we're entitled to remove him from power and install one of our own people."

So here's what I think can be learned from this. Our government simply sees to it that governments friendly to corporate interest are installed. That might mean egregious violations of the law. That might mean complete subversion of democracy. It might mean grotesque violence. The GOP can be counted on to support this behavior. And the right wing media can persuade otherwise intelligent people to argue on behalf of this action even when it's not in their interest and certainly not in the interest of justice.

The pattern repeats. This is not unlike Vietnam, Iraq, Cuba, Venezuela, and a host of others.

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