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Diplomacy of deceit

11 November 2009

A short postscript added 12-November-2009

Laura Carlsen, in today’s Americas: MexicoBlog writes on the Honduras “agreement”:

What will surely go down in the books as one of the worst diplomatic agreements ever, was hammered out by the State Department team—[Thomas] Shannon, joined by Obama advisor Dan Restrepo and the man who has now been sent in to try to clean up the mess, Craig Kelly. It was signed by the two parties on Oct. 29.

I thought from the beginning that by forcing the legitimate government of Honduras to “negotiate” with the gangsters who seized the presidency was dishonest from the start — but given that the United States was going to impose its will on Honduras (as it always has); that a Wilsonian-style Democratic Party administration is in power (interested in domestic reforms,  multi-laterialist in foreign policy, but with the assumption of imposing U.S. values and solutions on the rest of the planet); AND that the present Secretary of State (like Wilson’s William Jennings Bryan) was selected as a sop to a defeated inter-party rival, despite having little or no real foreign policy experience (and despised by Latin American policy-makers) — a “negotiation” of some kind was inevitable.

While the coup has had the benefit of uniting Hondurans who are in favor of change into a coherent movement, at worst, a successful negotiated settlement would create a “coalition government ” (of reformers and gangsters) which might delay change, but would avoid an abrupt, violent reaction.

And, one is tempted to give the Obama Administration the benefit of the doubt, given that Thomas Shannon was a Bush administration holdover.

Shannon, however, may have had no intention of acting as an honest broker (as if one honesty brokers with crooks):

Tom Shannon met with Republican Senator Jim DeMint on Oct. 20 and DeMint urged him to recognize the Honduran elections without the reinstatement of Zelaya. DeMint offered to release his holds on Shannon’s nomination to the ambassadorship of Brazil and the nomination of Arturo Valenzuela to fill Shannon’s shoes as Asst. Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs.

DeMint, who traveled to Honduras to meet with the coup regime last month, had blocked these two key State Department nominations ostensibly in protest of the administration’s policies to reinstate Zelaya.

White reports that there is every indication that Shannon had already formulated this critical change in policy to abandon the demand for reinstatement when he flew down to Tegucigalpa on Oct. 28, and that coup leader Roberto Micheletti knew this. That left only President Zelaya and the rest of the world in the dark as to the real goal of the negotiations.

No… that left people like Elisabeth Malkin — a good Latin American reporter unfortunately employed by the same newspaper that believed the Bush Administration’s claims that Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction” — in the dark:

Under fire from allies in Latin America and on Capitol Hill, the Obama administration moved Tuesday to try to salvage the American-brokered agreement that had been billed as paving the way for a peaceful end to the coup in Honduras. Instead, the accord seems to have provided the country’s de facto government with a way to stay in power until a presidential election scheduled for the end of this month.

Whether it was Shannon, Jim DeMint or Hillary Clinton, the effect is the same.  The United States has signaled to Latin America that United States policy remains as it always has been — to treat any reformist, no matter how mild or ineffectual (like Mel Zelaya) or change in the status quo, even when the impact on the Untied States is simply higher wages for Honduran workers (which might have raised the cost of underwear at your local Wal-mart by a penny or so) as something to be thwarted at all cost.  Including damaging the honor of the nation, and the reputation of its president.


Magbana, on the situation, and the reputation of the Obama administration, writes (12-Nov-09) on Honduras Oye!:

I won’t repeat what I wrote in yesterday’s update, but a few more things are worth mentioning.  The biggest reason to believe that the US was behind the coup is that there is no way that the Honduran military, with the millions it receives from the US annually, is going to embark on a coup involving massive deployment of troops and the kidnapping of a head of state without explicit approval of the US.  Pure and simple, if the US did not want President Zelaya out, he would be at the presidential palace today and not a guest of the Brazilian embassy.

I guess there is an assumption that there is a difference between Democratic and Republican administrations and there may be in areas such as  social and economic programs.  But, when it comes to foreign affairs and Defense Department spending there is someone else in the driver’s seat and the car is definitely not parked at  1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

But, even if I was unfamiliar with the situation in Honduras, I would know immediately that it was a US-backed coup  because of one thing:  the coup in Haiti.

Six weeks after the February 29, 2004 coup d’etat  in which the democratically-elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was kidnapped, I was in Port-au-Prince as part of a delegation to determine the US’ role in the coup and kidnapping of Aristide.  It is in Haiti that the US perfected the template for the  coup in Honduras with certain variations here and there.  I remember talking with people here in the States after I returned from Haiti  and it was only when I told them certain things did they begin to comprehend that the US was the force behind it all.  They were shocked at first because they could not believe that the US would be capable of such things.

And you wonder why I say Latin Americans have good reason to regard the Obama administration as more of the same old, same old as every other U.S. administration?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. 12 November 2009 4:23 pm

    The minimum wage increase wouldn’t even have hiked up underwear prices, as the maquiladoras in the export zone were exempted.

    In addition to State being filled and headed by horses’ asses, it also seems to me as if something’s seriously stinky in the U.S. military-Honduran military relationship.

  2. 12 November 2009 4:28 pm

    Tom Shannon an “honest broker”? Not even hardly. Anyone who’s left over from BushCo is a putschist, by definition. He has a bad record on Venezuela and Bolivia as well as Honduras.

  3. locojhon permalink
    17 November 2009 4:01 pm

    @Nell,,,you mean “stinky” as in some kind of nefarious relationship with SOA/WHINSEC where the foreign (Honduran) military personnel, while being schooled/indoctrinated in terrorism, are vetted, assessed and if promising, then recruited by the USG to one day do its bidding? Like the General and other officers leading the coup also being SOA/WHINSEC graduates?
    Or something additional?
    @Bina,,,usually we agree, but somehow, not here. It is not only the BushCo groups that are putschists. Expect any appointed by any administration to be representatives of corporate-directed empire. Empire USA-style is bi-partisan in fact, and is not a Rep vs Dem kinda deal whatsoever, and never has been going back to before the Monroe Doctrine. Or at least that is how I view US history.
    Am I mistaken?


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