With disapproval rising like steam off the page, Jake Tapper reports that Barack Obama, in Russia meeting with Vladimir Putin, “explains his support for [the] ousted president of Honduras.”
“America supports now the restoration of the democratically-elected President of Honduras, even though he has strongly opposed American policies,” the president told graduate students at the commencement ceremony of Moscow’s New Economic School. “We do so not because we agree with him. We do so because we respect the universal principle that people should choose their own leaders, whether they are leaders we agree with or not. “
Tapper also quoted part of Pres. Obama’s response right after Zelaya was overthrown and flown out of the country:
Last week, responding to the Honduran military removal of Zelaya as president, President Obama said “it would be a terrible precedent if we start moving backwards into the era in which we are seeing military coups as a means of political transition rather than democratic elections. The region has made enormous progress over the last 20 years in establishing democratic traditions in Central America and Latin America. We don’t want to go back to a dark past.”
“We are very clear about the fact that President Zelaya is the democratically elected president,” President Obama said.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Pres. Zelaya plans to try returning to Honduras again, by the land route this time, possibly on Wednesday after his meeting today with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Mark Leon Goldberg at UN Dispatch writes about the pro-coup organizing among Republicans in Congress:
Support for the coup in Honduras extends beyond the pages of right wing political magazines to the United States Congress. Tomorrow, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Ranking Member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen will host a private meeting for her Republican colleagues with former Honduran President Ricardo Maduro and former Costa Rican Ambassador to the U.S. Jaime Daremblum. According to the invitation, obtained by UN Dispatch, “President Maduro will help to outline the sequence of events leading to the shift in power in Honduras and removal of Manuel Zelaya; provide insight into Honduran constitutional authorities; and discuss how the U.S. can now work to support the democratic institutions and rule of law in Honduras.” Ambassador Daremblum will discuss his Weekly Standard piece titled “A Coup for Democracy.”
In related news, Florida Republican Connie Mack (pictured) is circulating a congressional resolution that effectively supports the coup. So far, the Congressional Coup Caucus includes Dan Burton (Republican from Indiana), Jeff Fortenberry (Republican from Nebraska) and Dana Rohrabacher (Republican from California) who are co-sponsoring the resolution.
It’s very striking and curious to me that, while Pres. Obama is taking pains to explain that his support is for the rule of law and not for Zelaya himself or his administration, Republicans in Congress are similarly taking pains to make it crystal clear that they are specifically supporting the coup organizers and the political right in Honduras, over the left. This rather serves to undercut their argument that Obama is taking sides, rather than maintaining a neutral position.
The other thing I notice, of course, is that Obama has taken this position that the coup is illegal as the president of the United States. He is not a blogger or an op-ed columnist or any other private individual sharing his opinion with us. This is supposed to be the official position of the U.S. government. And Republican leaders are openly opposing it and pushing a counter-policy of their own. That is their right to do, of course, but it does seem a bit unseemly that they are deliberately undercutting the POTUS so brazenly. They did the same thing with regard to the post-electoral violence in Iran, of course.
I can’t help but wonder what people like Connie Mack would have said if, during the previous administration, Democratic leaders in Congress had advocated a foreign policy that was the polar opposite of Pres. Bush’s. And to be clear here, I am not talking about the normal disagreement along partisan lines on foreign policy and domestic policy alike in Congress. What Republicans are doing with regard to Honduras is very different from that.