'Harmless as an enemy, treacherous as a friend'
Historian Bernard Lewis has observed that a nation can make few mistakes worse than this: to be “harmless as an enemy and treacherous as a friend.” Is that a fair characterization of American foreign policy under the Obama administration?Obama has never really explained his decision in Honduras in any way that was consistent with the facts. Perhaps he cannot. His revoking the diplomatic visas of four Honduran officials also makes no sense other than being consistent with his initial bad judgment.
Start with Honduras, which has been a stable and valuable American ally for two decades. Recently, Pres. Manuel Zelaya attempted to subvert his country’s laws and democratic institutions in pursuit of the kind power enjoyed by such left-wing and anti-American strongmen as Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez, Cuba’s Raul Castro, and Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega.
Honduras’s Supreme Court stood up to Zelaya — eventually ordering the military to remove him from office. Honduras’s Congress voted to install a new president, Roberto Micheletti, the next in line under Honduras’s constitution, and a member of the same Liberal party to which Zelayla belongs.
New elections, Micheletti said, should be held in November, as scheduled — or sooner, if that would ease tensions. As for the decision to expel Zelaya from the country, that must be understood, he explained, “in the context of genuine fear of Mr. Zelaya’s proven willingness to violate the law and engage in mob-led violence.”
Nevertheless, President Obama was quick to denounce Zelaya’s ouster and — echoing Chávez, Castro, and Ortega — demand that he be reinstated. Senior White House officials threatened sanctions if Honduras’s legislature, courts, and military refuse to do as told. More than $18 million in military and development assistance already has been suspended.
Contrast that with the White House response to the massive election fraud that recently took place in Iran: President Obama said he did not want to be seen as “meddling.”