Dispatches From The Edge
A Coup At Foggy Bottom?
Watching the Obama Administration's about-face in the
Middle East and
question: have neo-conservative Democrats-a section
closely associated with the
the shifts, their effect has been to heighten tensions
in both areas of the world and marginalize the
just as it was beginning to break out of the isolation
of the Bush years.
When U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton abandoned
the White House's demand to halt the growth of Israeli
settlements on the West Bank and
only drew outrage from
peace process. For the first time in decades,
Palestinians are threatening to unilaterally declare a
state, and some are openly raising the possibility of
abandoning a two-state solution in favor of a single
A bi-national solution would "spell the end of
as a democratic state," editorialized the Financial
Times. "It would come to resemble in many ways the
struggle against apartheid in
Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu believes that he has
achieved a victory by refusing to halt the settlements,
he is wrong. It is more like a project of national suicide."
The Economist put the blame squarely on Obama: "From
the Palestinian and Arab points of view, his
administration.has meekly capitulated to
The recent announcement that
government feels it can now act without fear of a break
If outrage is the reaction to the Administration's U-
turn in the
on the Honduran coup.
When President Manuel Zelaya was ousted by the military
June 28, the White House joined the Organization of
American States (OAS) and the United Nations in
demanding his reinstatement. "We believe the coup was
not legal and that President Zelaya remains the
democratically elected president there," said Obama.
Now, according to State Department spokesman Ian Kelly,
winner of the Nov. 29 elections, which are being
organized by the coup government. According to Amnesty
International and Human Rights Watch, demonstrations
opposed to the election have been savagely repressed.
So far, only
Almost overnight, the good will Obama created by his
Cairo address to the Muslim world, and his
Administration's quick denunciation of the Honduran
coup has vanished.
Administration's change of heart. Senator Jim DeMint
(R-SC) claims it was his hold over two State Department
nominees that caused the White House to drop its
support of Zelaya. DeMint said he was "very thankful"
that Obama and Clinton "have finally taken the side of
the Honduran people."
According to COIMER & OP poll, only 22.2 percent of
Hondurans support the coup government led by Roberto
But it seems unlikely that the White House would cave
over two appointments. In fact, the State Department
had begun backing away from Obama's statement long
before DeMint came into the picture. Zelaya's name was
suddenly dropped in favor of a formula that called for
a "return to constitutional order."
A muscular foreign policy-and strong support for
Israel-are policies that have long been touchstones for
the right wing of the Democratic Party. It was the
Colombian civil war, bombed the
hawks, is pushing for a major expansion of the war in
It seems more likely that the State Department's
support for the Nov. 29 election was a not-so-subtle
shot across the bow aimed at countries that the
The recent release of a
current U.S.-Colombian military agreement suggests that
Eva Golinger, the document, submitted to the
Congress last May as part of the 2010 budget
considerations, contradicts claims by the
Colombian government of Alvaro Uribe that the
at local narcotics traffic and terrorism, and will not
The agreement says
engage in "full spectrum military operations in a
critical sub-region of our hemisphere where security
and stability is under constant threat from narcotics
funded terrorists insurgencies.and anti-US
governments." And further, that the Palanquero Base in
particular ".will also increase our capability to
conduct Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance
(ISR), improve global reach, support logistics
requirements, improve partnerships, improve theater
security cooperation and expand expeditionary warfare
In a statement that had a strong whiff of the
Doctrine about it,
Douglas Fraser warned that
in the region poses a "potential risk." Speaking in
building connections to "extremist organizations" on
the continent, and has forged close ties with
it the ability to project considerable naval power
The scope of the
number of countries nervous, especially those that the
State Department considers "anti-US":
"unfriendly" could also include
continent-wide independence movement against
domination of the region.
The Bolivian government of Evo Morales charges that
International Development (USAID) and the National
Endowment for Democracy (NED) support a separatist
movement in the oil and gas rich eastern provinces of
the country. This past April, Bolivian special forces
stormed a hotel in
Morales movement-and killed several heavily armed
mercenaries who apparently planned to sow chaos in the province.
Weapons and explosives used to attack Morales
supporters were traced to wealthy business owners who
are active in the rightwing separatist
Committee. The Committee has received support from
USAID and NED.
government of Hugo Chavez, against whom the
supported a short-lived coup in 2002. Chavez and
Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa both charge that the
troops seeking out members of the Revolutionary Armed
Javier Ponce, has requested a meeting with the
President Obama over the U.S.-Colombia agreement.
The atmosphere in
removal of the country's top military leaders by
leftist President Fernando Lugo. There have been
several coup attempts since the end of the 35-year
military dictatorship in 1989, and Chavez recently
charged that a plan to overthrow
voting after left-wing former guerrilla Jose "Pepe"
Mujica took 47.4 percent of the vote in the first
election round. Some of the right-wing in that country
vows that Mujica will never be allowed to take power.
An outbreak of coups in all these countries seems
unlikely, but is certainly not out of the question,
particularly if right-wingers-who dominated the
continent throughout the 1980s and `90s-think
overthrowing an "unfriendly" government will be met
with a wink and a nod from
torpedoed a diplomatic solution to the crisis.
Micheletti formed a "unity" government excluding
Zelaya, prompting the ousted president, holed up in the
Brazilian embassy, to announce that the
agreement was "dead." The Honduran congress says it
will not consider reinstating Zelaya until after the election.
Group-every country in
Caribbean-called for reinstating Zelaya. OAS President
Jose Miguel Insulza demanded that the Honduran
government be led by its "legitimate" president. Both
the UN and the European Union say they will not
recognize the Nov. 29 elections.
More than 240 leading
experts sent a letter to Obama calling on the State
Department to denounce human rights violations by the
Micheletti government and re-instate Zelaya. AFL-CIO
President Richard Trumka demanded that the Obama
Administration oppose the Nov. 29 election and return
Zelaya to the presidency.
Mark Weisbrot, director of the Centre for Economic and
Policy Research, says unless the Obama Administration
reverses course, it is going to be "just as isolated as
Bush vis-a-vis the hemisphere."
Whatever the explanation for the shift in foreign
policy , there is little argument about the results:
anger, charges of betrayal, and a diminishment of hope,
from the Middle East to
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