Yearwood On The News: Afghanistan, Honduras
GUY RAZ, host:
Joining me now for a look at the boldface and even hidden headlines of the past week is John Yearwood. He's the world editor for The Miami Herald. John's in Miami.
John, welcome to the program.
Mr. JOHN YEARWOOD (World Editor, The Miami Herald): Good to be with you, Guy.
RAZ: As we just heard from our reporter, Soraya Nelson in Afghanistan, Abdullah Abdullah, the runner up in the still disputed presidential election, may boycott the runoff. He was the guy who, in a sense, the White House seemed to be banking on to give this election some legitimacy. But now, it seems, John, this is just another piece of bad news for the Obama administration in its dealings with Afghanistan.
Mr. YEARWOOD: Well, Guy, I tell you what? It is not the kind of news that President Obama wanted to wake up to this morning. I don't think that it's all bad. Here's why; whether there's fraud or no fraud in the runoff, few people actually expected Abdullah Abdullah to actually win the runoff.
Secondly, pulling out may have been his best chance ultimately influence what happens after the election. This may be, I think, an opportunity for Karzai ultimately, if not to make Abdullah a part of his government, than some of the key supporters of Abdullah. I think it'd be something that the administration ultimately will look at with some approval.
RAZ: John, on to Afghanistan's neighbor Pakistan. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held three days of meetings in that country with Pakistani journalists on a trip there this past week and she seemed to take a lot of punches, but also to punch right back.
Mr. YEARWOOD: You know, one of things I think we're seeing here is the new face of American foreign policy, where whether it's Secretary of State Clinton or whether it's President Obama in Egypt, (unintelligible), they go out and they speak in a blunt fashion that we haven't seen recently in American foreign policy, and indeed, in diplomatic circles.
I guess, as someone who spent some time - a little time in Pakistan and talked to a lot of people on the ground in Pakistan as I have, I think one of the things I'd come away with is that Pakistanis are not foreign to taking a punch, are not foreign to tough love. But I think many of them will tell you that they hope that the administration is as aggressive in asking them and pushing them in a particular direction as it is in addressing the needs of the Pakistanis.
John, a story that your paper, The Miami Herald, is covering closely, a breakthrough in Honduras. U.S. officials brokered a deal that would restore the ousted President Manuel Zelaya to power, he, of course, was overthrown in a coup last June. Why is the U.S. taking such a prominent role in the standoff there?
Mr. YEARWOOD: Well, Guy, I think one of the things that folks in Honduras will tell you is that their four-month-long nightmare is just about concluded. The deal has been broken. But the one thing it's condition on is Zelaya putting his fate in the hands of Congress. The question is whether or not Congress, which overwhelmingly tossed him out of office, was - voted against him anyway, is willing to put him back in.
As far as the U.S. is concerned, the administration has been under intense pressure from Republicans in Congress who are objecting to the administration siding with Zelaya. Many of the Republicans feel that Zelaya has been too closely allied with Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and they are concerned about spreading Venezuela's socialist revolution throughout the region.
They're saying that the administration should've sided with Micheletti, who is the de facto president. If they can get this through parliament, the U.S. can then come back and say, look, we tried to broker a deal, now we move on to the elections in a month and the U.S. can move this off the front page and get this behind us.
RAZ: That's John Yearwood. He's the world editor with The Miami Herald speaking with me from WLRN in Miami.
Mr. YEARWOOD: Thank you, Guy.
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