Friday, August 07, 2009

"Military" coup

There are many reasons--strategic, ideological, etc.--that the Obama administration would decide not to impose sanctions on the coup government. We may disagree with those reasons, but we can understand them. However, the following is really just an insult to everyone's intelligence. The State Department is now saying that the administration has not labeled the crisis a "military coup" because after about six weeks they still can't figure out the legal issues involved.

QUESTION: Well, you haven’t officially legally declared it a coup yet.

MR. WOOD: We have called it a coup. What we have said is that we legally can’t determine it to be a military coup. That review is still ongoing.

QUESTION: Why does it take so long to review whether there’s a military coup or not?

MR. WOOD: Well, look, there are a lot of legal issues here that have to be carefully examined before we can make that determination, and it requires information being shared amongst a number of parties. We need to be able to take a look at that information and make our best legal judgment as to whether or not –

QUESTION: It seems to be taking a very long time.

MR. WOOD: Well, things take time when you’re dealing with these kinds of very sensitive legal issues. So we want to make sure that –

Yes, things take time. Like until November?


Mike Allison,  8:07 AM  

This sounds reminiscent of the Clinton administration's inability to agree that genocide was ongoing in Rwanda fifteen years ago.

Anonymous,  11:31 AM  

I agree that the administration is probably trying to wait this out.

But that doesn't mean the State Department is wrong in it's answer. The only way you can think of this as obviously a military coup is if you decide to ignore all the other legitimate institutions in Honduras. We would not do that in the US, why should we do that in Central America?

Abby Kelleyite 11:44 AM  

It seems clear that State has been continuing to provide humanitarian aid to the Honduran people for "policy" reasons (US Assistance to Honduras, July 7) while using the legal dodge of whether a coup is a "military" coup so as to not trigger the automatic cutoff of Section 7008 of the Foreign Operations Act, a legal dodge they have been relying on since at least the July 1 Background Briefing on the Situation in Honduras: "QUESTION: Thanks very much for doing the call.... [C]an you give us a – earlier this week, Secretary Clinton gave us to understand that you were holding off on a determination on whether it was indeed a military coup. And there was the inference that this was to open up diplomatic space to reach a negotiated outcome. Is that still your stance, even though I know that you are – that the Legal Adviser’s Office has begun the process of determining whether it was a military coup and, therefore, whether the aid cutoff is triggered? ...

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: [B]oth the President and the Secretary have described events in Honduras as a coup, which they certainly were once the current claimant to the presidency swore – was sworn in before the congress after the forcible removal of the legal and constitutional president, Mel Zelaya.

In regard to assistance, obviously, we’re evaluating the impact of these actions on our assistance programs. The focus of our assistance programs is the well-being of the Honduran people. That remains our focus as we conduct this evaluation."

My own view is that a legal dodge which no one would appear to have standing to challenge is a helpful way to assure that "among other things, all assistance supporting the provision of food aid, HIV/AIDS and other disease prevention, child survival, and disaster assistance, as well as elections assistance to facilitate free and fair presidential elections, is still being provided to the people of Honduras." (US Assistance to Honduras, July 7)

leftside 1:31 PM  

The only way you can think of this as obviously a military coup is if you decide to ignore all the other legitimate institutions in Honduras.

Are you really still under the impression that ANY democratic institution ordered Zelaya's kidnapping and removal from the country? There was no such order. This was a military decision, as everyone admits. Are you also still of the belief that the Zelaya's "resignation letter" was real and therefore the Congress vote to replace him with Micheletti has any validity?

Nell 5:55 PM  

The military decided to force Zelaya out of the country on June 28. The military decided to block the runway to prevent Zelaya's return at Toncontin Airport on July 5. The military refused to allow Zelaya to enter by land at Las Manos on July 24. The military initiated and ruled on the order to shut down Radio Globo this week (an order RG is, thankfully, ignoring).

This is a military coup. By refusing to acknowledge that, the U.S. government is opposing the coup with words and symbolic actions only. I'm glad Greg finally was able to work up a bit of criticism for our own government's dishonest, shameful lack of commitment to reversing this assault on elected government.

Anonymous,  6:39 PM  

There was an order to arrest him. In fact, there are still orders to arrest Zelaya. All from legitimate institutions. The only thing the military did illegally (and which they admitted) is expelling him from the country.

If you still don't know this...

leftside 7:41 PM  

The only thing the military did illegally (and which they admitted) is expelling him from the country.

Oh, only that minor detail. Nevermind that this is the core issue we are all arguing about how to rectify more than a month later.

The military usurped the role of issuing judicial warrants reserved in the Constitution to the national police (art. 293). They did not detain the President in violation of the Court order. They did not detain him in the location he was arrested in violation of the Constitution (art 85). And of course, again in violation of the Constitution, they sent him abroad (Art 102).

Has anyone said Zelaya should not face the Courts (including Zelaya)? There is a legitimate question about whether he can receive justice from the same people who participated in the coup, but a truly fair trial will be a cakewalk and vindication from Zelaya. I have no doubt - particularly after catching up with RAJ's amazing work.

Anonymous,  7:59 PM  

That's not the core issue. The core issue is that Zelaya repeatedly broke the law and trampled all other institutions. Lucky for all he failed.

Of course Zelaya has no interest in facing any courts. If he did he would have said so. He would have turned himself in.

It's clear the Zelaya supporters will believe anything as long as it fits their preconceived notions. They want us to believe Zelaya is the victim, when Zelaya is the cause of all this mess. If Zelaya had done what all presidents are supposed to do, respect all judicial rulings even if they disagree with them, w would not be in this mess.

And RAJ's analysis are a joke. He claimed Zelaya could simply ignore the courts and storm a base with his mob because Zelaya had another interpretation of the law. That's ridiculous.

leftside 8:41 PM  

In a new revelation, Zelaya narrated (in Mexico yesterday) a phone call he received in Nicaragua from the head of Honduran Armed Forces, General Romeo Vasquez shortly after the coup. He said Vasquez told him, "'Mr. President, we received instructions that you were to be eliminated in the capture (eliminated meaning assassinated). And we decided then, the Joint Command, that we are your friends (Zelaya paused to question the term friends) and that to preserve your life we had to take you out of the country.'"

leftside 9:24 PM  

The Lugar letter is here. H/T Boz. Finally a response from a Senator with a different POV - John Kerry. I wrote my Senators/Rep. this morning. I urge everyone else to as well.

In the letter I saw all I needed to know about Obama's weak-kneed position. Seeing him cynically answer questions on Honduras confirmed the even worse notions about his character:

I can't press a button and suddenly reinstate Mr Zelaya," Obama said.

No, but you could follow the US law and apply real sanctions, amongst a million other things that would show you were serious and gave a crap.

"It is important to note the irony that the people that were complaining about the U.S. interfering in Latin America are now complaining that we are not interfering enough," Obama said.

Wow. Is Obama really that obtuse? Is he really equating intervention on behalf of narrow US and multinational corporate interests with supporting democracy? Does he really not see the difference between working against the region's stated desires vs working in support of them? I can't believe that. This has to be some sort of slick line created by his spin-meisters (or perhaps someone read Boz's blog?)

Justin Delacour 12:25 AM  

I really appreciate the links, Leftside. I've been posting links to some of those stories on my blog.

The bottom line is that to oppose a coup requires resolve. Unfortunately, what we hear from most "centrist" Democrats in Washington is not resolve at all. Instead, we hear a lot of back-door apologetics for a coup. The line starts something like this: "Of course, any coup is bad, BUT..."

That sort of equivocation --repeated thousands upon thousands of times among Washington hacks-- has helped bring about a very dangerous game of appeasement.

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