Monday, August 17, 2009


That noble intent is a pretext, and not a preoccupation, of foreign policy makers is made so obvious by a voluminous historical record that it should be a self-evident truism not worth repeating. Recently declassified documents reveal President Nixon approached Brazil's military dictator in 1971 with promises of cash and other assistance in exchange for assistance in overthrowing Chile's democratic government and other leftist governments in the region, much as had occurred seven years prior in Brazil when a U.S backed coup ousted the democratic government and replaced with a neo-Nazi police state. Wednesday marks the fifty-sixth anniversary of the end of parliamentary democracy in Iran at the hands of a U.S/British coup that brought to power a ruthless tyrant who would rule for twenty-six years. Forty-four years ago today the first major ground battle of the Vietnam War involving American forces began, a war fought to foster democratic governance, a war that the U.S entered to prevent a democratic nationwide referendum and exited propping up a petty tyrant who idolized Hitler.

That disdain for democracy, when it produces governments hostile to perceived U.S interests, continues to the present. Over the weekend a senior official from Honduras's ousted government suggested U.S complicity in the June 28 coup that removed democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya from office. At this point those claims are impossible to verify. It is entirely plausible that the U.S did authorize Zelaya's ouster and equally possible that it did not. What has, however, become increasingly evident since the coup is the U.S's tacit support for the coup government.

Although the coup was of concern when it happened the rhetorical response of the U.S government was appropriate. The military's actions were denounced, President Obama declared Zelaya's ouster a coup and demanded the restoration of democratic governance, the Pentagon halted joint exercises with the Honduran military, and the State Department suspended some aid. However, the U.S failed to follow up on this initial display with the use of its substantial leverage over Honduras, indeed President Obama suggested that advocates of such an approach were guilty of "hypocrisy".

The U.S accounts for 80% of all of Honduras's foreign trade, the imposition of sanctions, as mandated by U.S law against any nation where a military coup has occurred, would compel the Honduran elites supporting the coup to allow for the return of the Constitutional order. In addition the U.S retains close relations with the upper echelons of the Honduran military, trained at the infamous School of the Americas, the U.S even maintains a contingent of American soldiers . Due to the enormous U.S influence in the country the survival of the coup regime has been dependent on tacit U.S support. And the U.S has given that support. After the coup the Honduran business community enlisted the help of former White House Counsel Lanny Davis to lobby on their behalf. Although he appears not to know much about Honduras he has made known that his employers are satisfied with the American response to the coup.

That response has enabled the coup government to retain power, cracking down harshly on pro-Zelaya demonstrations, imposing curfews, detaining opposition lawmakers and other officials at military bases, dissapearing and assassinating opponents, shutting down media outlets, extra-judicial killings, the reconstitution of the Battalion 3-16 death squad, and other gross violations of human rights. The situation in Honduras recalls a dark era of U.S-Latin American relations marked by death squads, disappearances, and dictators.

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