Saturday, October 10, 2009

Senator Jim DeMint, God bless him, goes to Honduras

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has made a vague claim that U.S. support of Zelaya - which support necessarily amounts to U.S. hostility to Honduras' democratic government and to the Honduran Constitution - is designed to pull the rug from underneath Chavez. Secretary Clinton's rationale explodes Occam's Razor into shreds. I believe Hillary Clinton is lying, and have not seen anyone who believes she is speaking truth.

If she is speaking truth, the policy is still counterproductive. As a matter of principle, as a statement to the world, the United States of America ought not support Hugo Chavez style dictatorship.

I started to write: the United States of America does not support Hugo Chavez style dictatorship. Yet, supporting dictatorship is exactly what the United States policy has been since June. Therefore, we ought not support what we actually have been supporting.

Why does the United States of America support dictatorship in Honduras? Many weeks ago, I agreed with Senator DeMint's current conclusion: President Obama knee jerked a wrongful policy, then would not publicly admit his error, and U.S. policy is now "a mistake in search of a rationale".

However, in ensuing months, the United States has taken proactive steps to oppose Honduran democracy. I conclude I was wrong in assuming an initial, knee jerk error by Pres. Obama, and I conclude Senator DeMint is now wrong in assuming same. If Pres. Obama merely refused to admit error, then Pres. Obama would not now be proactively supporting the budding dictator Zelaya: Pres. Obama would not have revoked U.S. visas which are held by Honduran citizens, Pres. Obama would not have cut off U.S. foreign aid to Honduras. The facts argue for these conclusions:

a. Pres. Obama values talented leadership over constitutional democracy
b. Pres. Obama believes Zelaya is a talented leader who will be good for Honduras.

I cannot read Pres. Obama's mind, and therefore I do not know a & b above to be true. I do assert, based on the facts of Pres. Obama's actions, a & b above represent the likeliest scenario.

I suspect this: President Obama neither understands nor values the way in which freedom inspires the human soul. President Obama believes: if there is an equitable amount of chicken in every pot, then the people will be as happy and as well off as they can be.

President Obama's failure to understand the soul-uplifting importance of freedom is President Obama's failure to understand the magic of the United States of America; is President Obama's failure to understand the meaning of "American exceptionalism"; is the reason - above all others - President Obama ought never have been nominated for or elected to the Presidency. Barack Obama swore to protect and defend a Constitution whose purpose he neither understands nor values. American exceptionalism doesn't mean American people are better than other people. Heck American people ARE other people: our populace is drawn from every region of the world. American exceptionalism means America's constitutional freedoms and protections unleash the spirit and creativity of the American people.

The second likeliest Honduras policy scenario is that Pres. Obama's administration is so FUBAR that President Obama is ignorant of the facts on the ground in Honduras. This scenario is possible, yet is, imo, unlikely.

The third likeliest scenario is that the Honduran government is corrupt, and the Honduran Supreme Court and the Honduran Congress are engaged in a massive conspiracy for purpose of keeping a wealthy ruling class (themselves) in power, for purpose of blocking badly needed reforms which would aid the poorer classes of Honduran people. In this scenario, Zelaya is a visionary and noble reformer who aims to help the downtrodden Honduran people via the device of rewriting the outdated Honduran Constitution (and - if you've any sense at all, and any willingness to consider the facts - via installing himself as President For Life a la Chavez). This scenario is the one believed by the American leftists who support Zelaya and who support Pres. Obama's actions to revoke Honduran visas and to cut off foreign aid to Honduras. This scenario is extremely, extremely unlikely. It would require that Zelaya be the one visionary and noble man, and the entire Honduran Supreme Court and Congress be corrupt and ignoble men. It would require it be happenstance that Zelaya has failed to explain what parts of the Honduran Constitution require reform. The leftists who profess to believe this scenario are dupes and/or hypocrites who favor more power for socialist style governments. These leftists are useful idiots.

If Zelaya and Pres. Obama truly wanted to reform an oppressive Honduran Constitution, then Zelaya and Pres. Obama would proffer examples of where and why the Honduran Constitution is oppressive. They have proffered no examples because significant examples do not exist. Further, the Honduran Constitution is completely flexible and amendable, having only four provisions which cannot be amended (two of these non amendable provisions have to do with Presidential succession), and having been amended over one hundred times in its two+ decades of existence.


Senator Jim DeMint, in WSJ:
After visiting Tegucigalpa last week and meeting with a cross section of leaders from Honduras's government, business community, and civil society, I can report there is no chaos there. There is, however, chaos to spare in the Obama administration's policy toward our poor and loyal allies in Honduras.

That policy was set in a snap decision the day Mr. Zelaya was removed from office, without a full assessment of either the facts or reliable legal analysis of the constitutional provisions at issue. Three months later, it remains in force, despite mounting evidence of its moral and legal incoherence.

While in Honduras, I spoke to dozens of Hondurans, from nonpartisan members of civil society to former Zelaya political allies, from Supreme Court judges to presidential candidates and even personal friends of Mr. Zelaya. Each relayed stories of a man changed and corrupted by power. The evidence of Mr. Zelaya's abuses of presidential power—and his illegal attempts to rewrite the Honduran Constitution, a la Hugo Chávez—is not only overwhelming but uncontroverted.

As all strong democracies do after cleansing themselves of usurpers, Honduras has moved on.

The presidential election is on schedule for Nov. 29. Under Honduras's one-term-limit, Mr. Zelaya could not have sought re-election anyway. Current President Roberto Micheletti—who was installed after Mr. Zelaya's removal, per the Honduran Constitution—is not on the ballot either. The presidential candidates were nominated in primary elections almost a year ago, and all of them—including Mr. Zelaya's former vice president—expect the elections to be free, fair and transparent, as has every Honduran election for a generation.

Indeed, the desire to move beyond the Zelaya era was almost universal in our meetings. Almost.

In a day packed with meetings, we met only one person in Honduras who opposed Mr. Zelaya's ouster, who wishes his return, and who mystifyingly rejects the legitimacy of the November elections: U.S. Ambassador Hugo Llorens.

When I asked Ambassador Llorens why the U.S. government insists on labeling what appears to the entire country to be the constitutional removal of Mr. Zelaya a "coup," he urged me to read the legal opinion drafted by the State Department's top lawyer, Harold Koh. As it happens, I have asked to see Mr. Koh's report before and since my trip, but all requests to publicly disclose it have been denied.

On the other hand, the only thorough examination of the facts to date—conducted by a senior analyst at the Law Library of Congress—confirms the legality and constitutionality of Mr. Zelaya's ouster. (It's on the Internet here.)

Unlike the Obama administration's snap decision after June 28, the Law Library report is grounded in the facts of the case and the intricacies of Honduran constitutional law. So persuasive is the report that after its release, the New Republic's James Kirchick concluded in an Oct. 3 article that President Obama's hastily decided Honduras policy is now "a mistake in search of a rationale."

The Hondurans I met agree. All everyone seemed to want was a chance to make their case, or at least an independent review of the facts.

So far, the Obama administration has ignored these requests and instead has repeatedly doubled down. It's revoked the U.S. travel visas of President Micheletti, his government and private citizens, and refuses to talk to the government in Tegucigalpa. It's frozen desperately needed financial assistance to one of the poorest and friendliest U.S. allies in the region. It won't release the legal basis for its insistence on Mr. Zelaya's restoration to power. Nor has it explained why it's setting aside America's longstanding policy of supporting free elections to settle these kinds of disputes.

But these elections are the only way out—a fact even the Obama administration must see. The Honduran constitution prohibits Zelaya's return to power. The election date is set by law for Nov. 29. The elections will be monitored by international observers and overseen by an apolitical body, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, whose impartiality and independence has been roundly praised, even by Ambassador Llorens.

America's Founding Fathers—like the framers of Honduras's own constitution—believed strong institutions were necessary to defend freedom and democracy from the ambitions of would-be tyrants and dictators. Faced by Mr. Zelaya's attempted usurpations, the institutions of Honduran democracy performed as designed, and as our own Founding Fathers would have hoped.

Hondurans are therefore left scratching their heads. They know why Hugo Chávez, Daniel Ortega and the Castro brothers oppose free elections and the removal of would-be dictators, but they can't understand why the Obama administration does.

They're not the only ones.

Mr. DeMint, a Republican senator from South Carolina, is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.



At NRO, Andy McCarthy asks why "the State Department is stonewalling Congress on the legal reasoning behind the administration's support for Chavez-wannabe, Manuel Zelaya"? McCarthy's answer indicts the State Department's top lawyer, i.e. the author of the mysteriously hidden legal opinion which ostensibly gives reasons for supporting Zelaya: Harold Koh.

As Ed Whelan and I pointed out when Koh was up for confirmation, the former Yale Law School dean is the nation's leading transnationalist. He has zero respect for national constitutions (including ours), preferring a post-sovereign order in which international law profs, transnational organizations, and free-lancing judges will be our overlords. What is happening with Honduras is exactly what anyone who familiarized himself with Koh's record would have predicted. Yet, he was confirmed by a 62-35 margin, with support from the usual GOP suspects: Lugar, Voinovich, Snowe, Collins, and Martinez.

Will these Republicans who helped foist Koh on us now join others demanding that President Transparency release Koh's legal opinion on Honduras?
McCarthy's observations are consistent with my speculation that President Obama fails to understand and to value constitutional freedoms and protections.

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