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Washington’s Tight Rope Walk on Honduras by Arnold August

August 17, 2009

August has done the yeoman’s work and it is very long, now all you have to do is take a little time and read it.

Military coup or not military coup?
Washington on Honduras: The Tight Rope Walker
by Arnold August*

What is Washington’s position on the events in Honduras? At first, in the name of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, the United States vigorously denounced the ousting of President Zelaya. But a closer look shows that they condemned the coup d’état while at the same time supporting their putschist friends. Arnold August analyses the pageant of awkward hypocrisy emanating from the Department of State and the White House.

Almost immediately after the coup d’État on June 28, the major media could not help but notice a problem facing Washington. On June 30, USA Today headlined: “Obama’s day: The presidential tight rope.” It went on to write: “Good morning from The Oval [White House]. On this day in 1859, a French acrobat named Charles Blondin walked above the rushing waters of Niagara Falls on a tightrope – exactly 150 years later, President Barack Obama probably knows the feeling….[On] Latin America, Obama tries to deal with the military coup in Honduras against a Latin legacy of distrust toward the United States.” [1]

On the same day, the Washington Post introduced their article with the banner: “On Foreign Policy, Obama Treads Carefully”. It continued: “President Obama came to office promising bold change on a variety of fronts, but he has often conducted his foreign policy in shades of gray. Whether in Iran or China or North Korea, when is the Obama administration not ‘moving cautiously’ or ‘treading carefully’ abroad? The latest example is Honduras, where the White House yesterday criticized the coup that toppled Manuel Zelaya yet didn’t signal complete disapproval. ‘But while condemning the overthrow, U.S. officials did not demand the reinstatement of Zelaya,’ the Los Angeles Times writes.” [2]

Real or apparent differences between President Obama and the State Department headed by Hillary Clinton will be dealt with below. For the moment let us continue with the initial theme. The Associated Press story reproduced in many major US and international media on July 6 carried the following title written by their correspondent Nestor Ikeda: “Obama is playing the role of a tight rope walker in the Honduran Drama”. Mr Ikeda hit the nail on the head as he writes: “Seeing as that Obama had promised the South American governments that we will follow an orientation of dialogue in conditions of diplomatic solutions, it seems that he is demonstrating a new role for the first time in the face of the military coup in Honduras: a high-wire artist.” [3]

“Clinton’s high-wire act on Honduras” was the banner of the July 7 issue of the Christian Science Monitor for the article highlighting that “the Obama administration waded deeper into the political crisis in Honduras Tuesday, anxious to see the hemisphere’s latest conflict resolved – but wary of appearing like the hegemonic power of old that imposed its will on smaller neighbours.” [4]

In the same direction, Time Magazine wrote on July 8 that “Since the coup, the White House has had to walk a fine line between cultivating a new, less interventionist image for the U.S. – which has too often aided military coups in Latin America – and ‘responding to the hemisphere’s desire that it take a strong lead in defending democratic norms,’ says Vicki Gass, senior associate for rights and development at the independent Washington Office on Latin America.” [5]

Washington’s dilemma was foreseen by one of the most hardened media supporters of the current coup d’État regime when the El Heraldo of Honduras noted on January 19 right after Obama’s inauguration that “he knows that he has no right to disappoint his followers….It was reported that in his inaugural address “Obama will be as if walking on a tightrope”. (My translation from original Spanish) This was in reference mainly to the economic crisis, but it can also be applied to the international situation. [6]

The Honduran El Heraldo“newspaper knew that the Honduran oligarchy had to tilt the balance in favour of itself.
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