They avidly, eagerly helped perpetuate militarist tyranny, torture, death squads and corruption in Latin America during the high and palmy days of the Reagan-Bush years – and now they're back in the saddle, riding as hired guns for the democracy-killing coup-coup birds in Honduras: Leader Ousted, Honduras Hires U.S. Lobbyists (New York Times):
In the months since soldiers ousted the Honduran president, Manuel Zelaya, the de facto government and its supporters have resisted demands from the United States that he be restored to power. Arguing that the left-leaning Mr. Zelaya posed a threat to their country’s fragile democracy by trying to extend his time in office illegally, they have made their case in Washington in the customary way: by starting a high-profile lobbying campaign.
The campaign has had the effect of forcing the administration to send mixed signals about its position to the de facto government, which reads them as signs of encouragement. It also has delayed two key State Department appointments in the region.
As the Times note, these retreads from the genocidal policies spawned and embraced by that beloved old pixie with a twinkle in his eyes, Ronald "Why No, This Isn't Rouge, I'm Just Flushed With Love for America" Reagan, are being joined by fresh (well, fresher) meat recruited from the courtiers who flit around imperial factionists Hillary Clinton and John McCain. (Bipartisan foreign policy in action!):
The campaign has involved law firms and public relations agencies with close ties to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Senator John McCain, a leading Republican voice on foreign affairs.
It has also drawn support from several former high-ranking officials who were responsible for setting United States policy in Central America in the 1980s and ’90s, when the region was struggling to break with the military dictatorships and guerrilla insurgencies that defined the cold war. Two decades later, those former officials — including Otto Reich, Roger Noriega and Daniel W. Fisk — view Honduras as the principal battleground in a proxy fight with Cuba and Venezuela, which they characterize as threats to stability in the region in language similar to that once used to describe the designs of the Soviet Union.
Naturally, the Obama Administration has been completely cowed by this fluttering of batwings from the far-right cave, and has continually diluted its already tepid opposition to the coup, no doubt in the earnest search of achieving "consensus" on Honduras policy:
...to placate its opponents in Congress, and have its nominations approved, the State Department has sometimes sent back-channel messages to legislators expressing its support for Mr. Zelaya in more equivocal terms.
“There’s been a leadership vacuum on Honduras in the administration, and these are the people who’ve filled it,” said [Chris Sabatini, editor of Americas Quarterly] of the Micheletti government’s backers. “They haven’t gotten a lot of support, but enough to hold the administration’s policy hostage for now.”
It is remarkable to see how in every case, the Obama Administration acts as if it is a minority government which won the White House by the slimmest of margins, and now must appease a powerful opposition party in control of Congress in order to get even watered-down fragments of its putative agenda passed – when in fact it was swept into office by one of the largest electoral margins in recent years and enjoys a comfortable majority control of both houses of Congress.
If Obama and crew actually had an agenda – as the hyper-militarist Dick Cheney had, when he and his front-man seized power in 2000 – then they could have pushed through any number of genuine, substantive reforms, with strong public support. But it should be clear to anyone by now that Obama, like Clinton before him, has no real idea of what he wants to do in government, or what he wants government to do: he just wants to enjoy the props and perks of power for awhile, to play the role of president, like Michael Douglas or Martin Sheen in a Aaron Sorkin fantasy, then bask in celebrityhood the rest of his days. The only real agenda of the Obama Administration is keeping Democrats in office, as Joe Biden revealed the other day, and winning a second term for the Prez. And then? Big book contracts, lucrative speaking engagements, corporate directorships, some charity PR....whatever.
The main thing is not to upset the golden applecart of the Empire and its Establishment. Thus the appearance of "weakness" consistently shown by the Administration is not due (or not solely due) to its own pusillanimousness; rather it comes from the inherent disconnect between the vague rhetoric of reform that it was forced to adopt to win popular support, and its real business: servicing the most powerful elements of a militarized, oligarchic state.
Try and name any powerful interest that Obama has taken on. The Pentagon? Whatever minor internal squabbles there may be about the exact details of escalating the "Af-Pak" war (which Obama firmly assures us will go on and on, apparently forever; pulling out is "not an option," he says), the American war machine (and the mercenaries and servicing industries that augment it) continues to grow unchecked -- in terms of size, scope, budget, destructive power and political influence. The health-care conglomerates, bane of most ordinary Americans? We all know that Obama has cut a cynical deal with these barracudas, pledging to protect (and expand) their profit margins in exchange for vast wads of cash for Democrats. The security organs? Obama has been steadfast in his support and protection of the torturers, death-squadders and black-opsters of the intelligence services, and his legal minions are constantly in the courts, seeking to uphold and expand the authoritarian encroachments of the Bush Regime. Wall Street? Please. In his cabinet choices and his "bailout" policies, Obama has given Wall Street the keys to the Treasury, to use as they please to cover up – and continue – the criminal recklessness that has plunged millions of people into misery around the world.
But let's give credit where it is due. Obama has bravely taken on one very powerful faction which exercises enormous, dominant sway over American society: poor blacks. Time and again, he has used the "bully pulpit" to admonish black men for being bad fathers, and to exhort black folk in general to quit whining about the deeply ingrained, systemic injustice and inequality of American society, which perpetuates an ever-deepening cycle of deprivation and abandonment that undermines generation after generation. They should get over this already, he says – while his wars and his Wall Street bailouts and his health-care corporate aggrandizement plans drain billions upon billions of dollars that could go to, oh, say, supporting education, nutrition, economic opportunity, neighborhood security, transportation, infrastructure legal aid, prison reform, recreation, culture and much else that could that could improve the lives and chances of the poor, of whatever race – as well as everyone else outside the tiny golden circle of the elite and their sycophants.
No, he's not afraid to stand up to African-Americans and tell them to get their own house in order. But to the Pentagon, Wall Street, war criminals, and corporate barracudas, the only message is: "Can I take your order? What do you need? Here's a blank check; just fill it in."
Thus it is not surprising to see the Administration waffling and dithering over the militarist coup in Honduras -- where the president, a wealthy businessman and member of the elite, made some noises about addressing, in some measure, a few of the immense inequalities of his society and was immediately branded a dangerous, radical Marxist whose extremism threatened the very soul and existence of the nation. Our own militarists and oligarchs (miligarchs?) have always reacted in the same way to even the slightest attempt to begin to think about the possibility of potentially taking some tiny steps toward finding a way to consider at some point in the distant future a few minor measures of limited scope and brief duration that could possibly be seen as trying to ameliorate slightly some of the deprivations of the useless and undeserving poor.
Indeed, because of the very, very faint noises that Obama himself made in this direction during his campaign, he too has faced identical charges from the Homeland miligarchs and their Fox-fed shock troops: a rich and bitter irony for a man whose obsequious services to the High Commanders of militarized Crony Capitalism are second to none.
But such charges, ludicrous as they are, do their job: they give fair warning to the current Oval Office occupant that he is there on sufferance, and that he must take the greatest pains to avoid any substantive deviation from the miligarch agenda. And so the little criminals of the Reagan-Bush years have re-emerged to re-assert the standard militarist line on Latin America: Coups R Us.
But "re-emerge" is perhaps the wrong term. These people never really go away; they are permanent representatives of the permanent American power structure: dull-witted, hard-hearted, cold-blooded apparatchiks of empire.
This column is republished here with the permission of the author.
Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.
Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.
This story was published in the Baltimore Chronicle on October 8, 2009.