NPR logo Foreign Policy: If Chavez Hates It, It Must Be Good?


Foreign Policy: If Chavez Hates It, It Must Be Good?

As I wrote yesterday, one of the nice things about the post-Cold War era is that the leaders of military coups can no longer count on U.S. or Soviet support purely on the basis of ideology, and therefore, even in the rare instance that they do still succeed, have less of a chance of establishing dictatorships. Evidently, however, coup-plotters can still count on Charles Krauthammer's support.

The Washington Post columnist and Fox News commentator attacks the Obama administration in the clip below for taking the side of ousted leftist leader Manuel Zelaya and reccomends the following bizarre rule of thumb for U.S. Latin America policy:

Whenever you find yourself on the side of Hugo Chavez, Daniel Ortega and the Castro twins, you ought to reexamine your assumptions.

Well, ok. But what if you also find yourself on the side of reliably pro-American conservatives like Colombia's Alvaro Uribe and Mexico's Felipe Calderon as well as influential moderate leftist leaders like Brazil's Lula Inacio da Silva, Argentina's Christina Fernandez de Kirchner and Chile's Michelle Bachelet? Perhaps then you might come to the conclusion that the U.S. position on the events in Honduras should be decided not on where the players involved fall in the zero-sum, dialectical struggle for Latin America's soul, but whether this is really the best way to protect the country's democracy and the stability of the region.

Brooking Institution scholar and former Costa Rican minister of planning Kevin Casas Zamora, no fan of Zelaya, came to this conclusion in a piece for FP yesterday:

An illegal referendum has met an illegal military intervention, with the avowed intention of protecting the Constitution. Zelaya's civilian opponents, meanwhile, are celebrating. For the past week, the Honduran Congress has waxed lyrical about the armed forces as the guarantors of the Constitution, a disturbing notion for Latin Americans. At the very least, we are witnessing in Honduras the return of the unfortunate role of the military as the ultimate referee in political conflicts among civilian leaders, a huge step back in the region's consolidation of democracy.

That's why Zelaya, though he bears by far the greater responsibility for this crisis, must be reinstated in his position as the legitimate president of Honduras. The Organization of American States, the neighboring countries, and the U.S. government (which is still enormously influential in Honduras) should demand no less. They should also call upon all political actors in Honduras to take a deep breath and do what mature democracies do: allow the law to deal with those who try to step outside it. If Zelaya must be prosecuted for his harebrained attempt to subvert the Honduran Constitution, then let the courts proceed as rigorously as possible. And the same applies to the coup perpetrators. If Honduras is to have a decent future, its politicians and soldiers, in equal measure, must learn that the road to democracy and development runs through the rule of law.

Or you could just keep pretending that the Soviets are on the verge of taking over Latin America.