Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

A return to dictator-friendly diplomacy?

Jerry Stratton, July 2, 2009

In January, before President Obama took office, I wrote:

If there’s any one policy I hope the Obama administration carries over from the Bush administration, it is that we not return to the realpolitik habit of propping up dictators in other countries. We can choose to completely disengage and leave the people of those countries to their own affairs, or we can choose to intervene in favor of democracy, but we should never again choose short-term stability over long-term freedom.

It didn’t seem like too much to ask for of a Democratic President who campaigned against interventionism. It’s why I’ve been mostly passive-aggressively tweeting how other presidents have responded to tyranny, and not posted any diatribes against Obama’s ignoring Iran. I disagree with that policy, but his policy of disengagement is arguably better than actively supporting the Iranian dictatorship.

We don’t know whether the Iranian government would have killed protestors such as Neda Agha-Soltan and Ashkan Sohrabi if the United States had taken a firmer stand against dictatorial violence in Iran; nor whether they would still have resorted to savage beatings, and hanging Mousavi supporters; it is probable they would have been more circumspect if the president of the United States had been more firm.

But as much as President Obama’s statements do sometimes appear to “choose short-term stability over long-term freedom”, we are at least not supplying the dictator with planes, tanks, and aid money as we might have done in twentieth century.

But his Honduras policy appears completely unsupportable. The president of Honduras was trying to set himself up as a permanent president, in a country with constitutional term limits. Their Supreme Court said no; their legislature said no. He continued his efforts by securing foreign assistance to distribute illegal ballots, so the courts and the legislature removed him from office, apparently all legally.

We have a similar constitutional term limit. Imagine if your least favorite president had, in the last years of his second term, set up a referendum to repeal the 22nd amendment so that he could run for a third term. Members of the opposing party (and probably some of the same party) sue; it goes to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court rules that it’s unconstitutional. The President says it doesn’t matter what the Supreme Court says, and goes ahead with the referendum.

The House impeaches him; the Senate convicts him and removes him from office. He doesn’t leave. So the U.S. Marshals evict him forcibly.

That seems to be the equivalent of what happened in Honduras. I’ve always been lukewarm to term limits, but Honduras is bringing me around to far stronger support of them, at least for Presidents. President Obama’s policy is clearly anti-democracy in favor of promoting a dictatorial “strong-man". The United States should not return to that sort of foreign policy. He’s going to have even Democrats looking back fondly on Bush foreign policy.

Update: If this report is true, he’s no longer remaining neutral on Iran, either; he’s siding with the dictators.

  1. <- Government food courts
  2. Political bloodsport ->