By Patrick J. Buchanan
Last Saturday, Honduran soldiers marched into the presidential palace, bundled up President Manuel Zelaya and put him on a plane for Costa Rica.
The ouster had been ordered by the Supreme Court and approved by the Congress, as Zelaya was attempting an illegal referendum to change the Honduran constitution so he could run for another term.
Will someone please explain why this bloodless transfer of power to the civilian legislator first in line for the presidency, in a sovereign nation, is any business of the United Nations, the Organization of American States, Hugo Chavez, the Castro brothers or Barack Obama? For all have denounced the “coup” and demanded Zelaya’s immediate return.
The hypocrisy here is astounding.
Chavez was imprisoned for his bloody coup attempt in Venezuela in 1992. And to have Fidel Castro’s dictatorship of half a century denouncing a glitch in the democratic process of a Western Hemisphere republic is beyond parody.
What percentage of the 200 member nations of that septic tank of anti-Americanism, the United Nations, are democracies? How many leaders of its member states came to power through free and fair elections?
And what happened to the idea of non-intervention in the internal affairs of Western Hemisphere republics? At this writing, Honduras is not buckling.
“We have established a democratic government, and we will not cede to pressure from anyone. We are a sovereign country,” said Roberto Micheletti, who was named caretaker president to serve out Zelaya’s term, which ends this year.
Unlike Tehran, where hundreds of thousands protested the election, the streets of Tegucigalpa have remained calm. No one has been shot, beaten with clubs or run down by thugs on motorcycles.
Just whose side is Barack on in Latin America?
Though elected as a center-right candidate, Zelaya has moved into the orbit of Chavez, whose idea it was to change the Honduran constitution to get Zelaya another term. Hugo even provided the ballots. In Latin America, term limits have been written into constitutions to prevent a return to the time of the dictators and presidents-for-life. The folks who put Zelaya aboard that plane are friends of the United States.
Why are Obama and Hillary Clinton meddling in the affairs of a friendly country, to dump over a friendly government, to reinstate a friend of Hugo’s, whose goal is to bring Honduras into his anti-American “Bolivarian Revolution”?
Like Barack’s strange behavior in Trinidad, where he grinned away as Chavez handed him an anti-American tract, then listened for an hour to Daniel Ortega berate us for cruelty to Castro’s Cuba, without protest or retort, Obama is coming off as one who shares the international left’s view of the United States.
There is another issue raised by Obama’s denunciation of our friends in Honduras. Does he put ideology ahead of U.S. national interests? Does he prefer hostile democracies to friendly autocrats?
What comes first with Obama?
“He may be an SOB, but he’s our SOB,” FDR said of one Latin dictator. What FDR meant was that, in those grave times when Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Joseph Stalin and Japanese militarists ruled most of Eurasia, America must take her friends where she could find them.
In World War II, we welcomed the alliance with Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, and the neutrality of the autocrats of Madrid and Lisbon. We partnered with Stalin. Gen. Eisenhower cut a deal with Vichy’s Adm. Darlan to get GIs safely ashore in North Africa.
From 1961 to 1979, Park Chung-hee was an authoritarian ruler of South Korea who sent 50,000 troops to fight beside ours in Vietnam. Was he not a better friend than Olof Palme of Sweden, Pierre Trudeau of Canada and Willy Brandt of Germany, who burnished their democratic credentials by scoring points off the United States?
For most Cold War presidents, U.S. national interests always trumped democratist ideology. Ike preferred the Shah to the democratically elected Mohammad Mossadegh. Richard Nixon preferred Gen. Pinochet to the elected Salvador Allende.
Even George Bush, who had pushed for Palestinian elections and insisted on Hamas’ inclusion, perhaps because he thought they would lose, did a somersault when Hamas won.
How to explain the universality of the attacks on Honduras — when few United Nations members outside the West condemned Tehran and Hugo Chavez rushed to congratulate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — other than the fact that this “coup” removed an adversary of the United States?
Anti-Americans stand by their own, no matter how they came to power, or retain power. Only in the West do we seem always prepared to abandon our flawed friends who do not measure up.
This is a formula for eventually not having any friends.
That Obama finds himself in camp with Castro’s Cuba, Ortega’s Nicaragua and Chavez, who is openly threatening Honduras, should tell him something about where his ideology is taking him, and us.
One day, Obama is going to have to decide whether he wishes to be the darling of the international left or the unapologetic leader of the nation that is most resented and reviled by the international left.