Monday, August 17, 2009

“Earth to Obama…”

Venezuelan caudillo Hugo Chavez criticized President Obama recently, and although it pains me personally to ever agree with Chavez, I have to admit he is right: “"President Obama is lost in the Andromeda Nebula, he has lost his bearings; he doesn't get it."

While Chavez’s comment could be applied generally to nearly every Obama policy, from a public option in his Health Care reform to his attempt to have citizens report each other via the infamous White House website, he was specifically criticizing Obama's position on the democratic crisis in Honduras.

Even Bill Maher has piled on, stating that “Obama needs to get a little George Bush in him, personality-wise.” Maher seemed to think that Obama was just being “too nice”, and needs to get tough in order to get his policies through. The silly thing about this is that, while Bush managed to get his way even during the last two years of his presidency when he had a Democrat-controlled House and Senate, Obama can’t seem to get anything right despite the fact that his own party controls both houses and the presidency.

Could it be that executive experience does trump "coummunity organizing"?

The reason has nothing to do with Obama being “too bi-partisan”. No, it’s because he truly has lost his bearings, if he ever had any to start with.

The Honduran and Iranian cases prove the point.

When the presidential elections in Iran were allegedly stolen by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government, resulting in massive protests and extremely violent oppression of protestors, Obama wobbled on his feet indecisively. By the time Obama finally got his bearings and was convinced that a grave injustice was being perpetrated, it was too late. He looked like good-guy Bob Barber from the 1985 satirical film “Rustler’s Rhapsody”, bellying up to the tough-guy bar to order a warm-milk—except that Obama wasn’t even tough enough to threaten to shoot the guns out of the bad-guys’ hands.

Shortly after, when Honduran President Manuel Zelaya (who just happens to be one of Chavez’s great buddies) was ousted by the Honduran Supreme Court, congress and the attorney general for violating the constitution, the Obama administration didn’t hesitate to step knee deep in caca, by immediately condemning “the coup”.

This only helped the Latin American leaders who were eager to restore the leftist Zelaya, and put Obama squarely within the ranks of such esteemed leaders as Raul Castro, Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales, and Daniel Ortega. As usual, the Democrats proved that they were so busy looking like “good guys”, they had lost all moral compass.

A few weeks later, we get a new headline: “US drops call to restore ousted Honduran leader”. Not only have they stopped calling for his return, they “instead put the onus on him for taking ‘provocative actions’ that polarized his country and led to his overthrow on June 28.”

My experience with lobbying Washington regarding the dangerous influences of Hugo Chavez’s regime convinced me that the Republicans were far more pragmatic about the new crop of leftist leaders in Latin America led by Hugo Chavez than were the Democrats. All it took to pull the proverbial wool over the Dem’s heads was for a Latin president to claim that he was determined to help the poor and promote “social justice”. Our Democrat “leaders” gobbled up that populist swill without hesitation, and it was nearly impossible to get them to see past the socialist window-dressing.

The Republicans, meanwhile, were quick to notice those same leader’s attempts to overthrow their nations’ constitutions, create civilian paramilitary organizations, undermine elections, bribe the poor with promises of free money, free land, increased minimum wages, etc. It was as if the Republicans still remembered the horrific events in Panama under Noriega, while the Democrats had somehow forgotten them.

In keeping with this historical context, Republican Senator Richard Lugar R-Ind. and other Republicans protested the Obama position by threatening to hold up nomination of a number of key positions (Arturo Valenzuela for Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere affairs and other ambassador positions). Facing tough challenges, and probably more informed about the details of the events, the Obama administration has changed its position 180º. They wrote a letter to Lugar that detailed the change in policy, and “also rejected calls by some of Zelaya's backers to impose harsh economic sanctions against Honduras… While condemning the coup, the letter pointedly failed to call for Zelaya's return.”

More importantly, the Obama administration has finally verbalized a criticism of President Zelaya’s actions: “We also recognize that President Zelaya's insistence on undertaking provocative actions contributed to the polarization of Honduran society and led to a confrontation that unleashed the events that led to his removal.”

How could Obama take any other position? Since his removal, Zelaya has threatened the interim government with violence, and Chavez threatened to take military action in Honduras, either through direct military conflict or by arming an insurrection. Zelaya supporters shut down the schools and a number of hospitals in protests that turned violent, forcing the Honduran police to seize school after 2nd day of violence. These protestors attacked local businesses such as Popeye’s Chicken, Dunkin Donuts, Burger King, and other local shops, smashing windows and even throwing firebombs at the offices of a local news station. All of these actions directly mirror the actions of Hugo Chavez’s “Bolivarian Circles”, and considering his threats, should generate suspicion that perhaps Chavez himself is helping to organize and fund the violence.

For a man whose intelligence has been praised as being “off the charts”, Obama appears to be absolutely clueless. It is astonishing that the US President missed a phenomenal opportunity to pressure the despotic regime in Iran, then leapt blindly into Honduran politics, had to reverse himself, and has yet to formulate any stated policy at all regarding Hugo Chavez, who is notorious for his nefarious interference into the affairs of weaker nations throughout the hemisphere.

Under President Obama, American foreign policy is a rudderless ship, perilously adrift amid the bergs.

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