the Obama administration condemned the coup against Honduran President
Zelaya, its overall response has been quite
anemic. The Honduran coup people have resisted all efforts at genuine
mediation and seem to be playing a waiting game hoping to drag things
out until the scheduled Honduran election or until everyone goes to sleep.
The failure of the Obama administration to take
strong and decisive action against the coup and the willingness of many
people in the mainstream USA
to buy into the anti-Zelaya propaganda has been
most disturbing. The lies that have been perpetrated against Zelaya,
to the effect that he was seeking to unconstitutionally extend his term,
were used by right-wingers in the USA
in order to justify the coup. The facts have been distorted. There was
no such effort. But, for the sake of argument, what if he were
attempting to move an electoral initiative to extend his term in office?
New York City Mayor Bloomberg pushed through a successful effort to permit
him to run for an unprecedented third term. The last time that i
checked, the tanks were not rolling through the streets of New York in order to unseat the ambitious Mayor.
What is more unsettling is that the US Right has
made Honduras a cause celebre.
A Republican delegation went to visit the coup leaders within the last
few weeks, despite or perhaps because of the Obama administration’s stand
against the coup. In fact, the Republicans are flaunting their opposition
to the Obama administration’s weak condemnation of the illegal ouster.
You can call me paranoid,
however, there is a separate concern that i
have been having. In the USA
a segment of the extreme Right has been going out of its way to suggest
that Obama is not the legitimate President of the USA.
This is quite a bit different from what progressives faced in 2000 when,
in fact, George W. Bush was selected as President by the US Supreme Court
(and was NOT legitimate). Right-wing extremists are suggesting that because
Obama is--according to them--not really a citizen of the USA and because he is allegedly threatening the
US Constitution (through efforts such as healthcare reform and the economic
stimulus), he should not be treated as the Commander
in Chief. There are, in fact, right-wing groups that are organizing among
military and police services in order to create a cadre of people who
are supposedly loyal to the Constitution and will take action against
alleged threats. President Obama is targeted as an alleged threat by them.
The failure of the Obama administration to take
a strong stand against the illegal ouster of a legitimately elected President
of Honduras says, in effect, that democracy is relative. That is, democracy
is relative to what the USA
says democracy should be. This is not a new notion, of course. This has
been the consistent stand of the USA
since its beginning. Yet in the current situation the message that it
is permissible to take out a standing and legitimately elected president
can give a green light to those who believe that this can and should be
applied here at home.
In the early 1960s, France
still occupied Algeria.
Then President Charles De Gaulle, recognizing that France
could not hold onto Algeria
due to the massive support that the national liberation movement received
from the Algerian people, began negotiations to grant independence. A
segment of the French political Right, including elements of the French
military, were infuriated and began to organize. In 1961 they carried
out a failed mutiny in Algeria that they hoped would spread to France. They then began underground
operations and created the Organisation de l’Armee
Secrete (the OAS, or Secret Army Organization). The OAS
began a campaign of terror in France and Algeria and, while ultimately destroyed, sought
to overthrow De Gaulle who they deemed to be illegitimate and a traitor.
When the Obama administration tolerates a coup,
as they are doing with Honduras
- despite their fancy rhetoric – they, in fact, legitimize the notion
that elections can be disregarded. Zelaya was
chosen by the Honduran people. Those segments of the Honduran government
that moved against him, chose not to await the
next elections but instead to take steps that are not being recognized
by any nation in the Western Hemisphere. Yet the Obama administration, the Administration
of the one country that could bring the Honduran coup people to their
knees, has refused to move firmly and with conviction.
The political Right in the USA smells blood. In fact, they are stirring up
a situation in order to not only undermine the credibility of the Obama
administration but to also make it impossible for them to reliably govern.
If the USA is willing
to permit one coup to take place due to alleged constitutional questions,
then why would matters stop at the border of Honduras? Why should not the
political Right create the same sort of crisis here at home?
If for no other reason than the survival of his
Administration, it is in the interests of President Obama to ensure that
the Honduran coup people go packing.
Executive Editor, Bill Fletcher, Jr., is a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies,
the immediate past president of
and co-author of, Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path
toward Social Justice (University
of California Press), which examines the crisis of organized labor in
the USA. Click here
to contact Mr. Fletcher.