Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Obama backing away from Zelaya?

Finally, Obama may have realized his kneejerk reaction was stupid.

Obama reaffirmed the US position that ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was his country's rightful leader, a day before a mediation mission by the Organization for American States (OAS) begins.

He also assailed those who fault his approach.

"The same critics who say the US has not intervened in Honduras are the same people who say we are always intervening and Yankees need to get out of Latin America," he said, accusing such opponents of "hypocrisy."

"You can't have it both ways," he told reporters after the summit in the Mexican city of Guadalajara, adding that Washington had done everything it could since Zelaya was ousted in a coup in June.

Harper rode to Obama's defense in the open-air press briefing after a summit in an ornate former orphanage.

"The United States is accused of meddling except when it's accused of not meddling," Harper said.

Critics in Washington and elsewhere have complained that US policy is directed at reinstalling Zelaya's left-wing government and brand the ousted leader a dictator who deserved to be toppled.

On the opposite flank, others have claimed Washington has watered down its calls for Zelaya's restoration.

According to IBD, its has been watered down a lot.

In a welcome about-face, the State Department told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Richard Lugar, R-Ind., in a letter Tuesday that the U.S. would no longer threaten sanctions on Honduras for ousting its president, Mel Zelaya, last June 28.

Nor will it insist on Zelaya's return to power. As it turns out, the U.S. Senate can't find any legal reason why the Honduran Supreme Court's refusal to let Zelaya stay in office beyond the time allowed by Honduran law constitutes a "military coup."

This marks a shift. The U.S. at first supported Zelaya, a man who had been elected democratically but didn't govern that way. Now they're reaching out to average Hondurans, the real democrats.

Sure, the U.S. continues to condemn Zelaya's ouster and still seeks mediation of the dispute through Costa Rican President Oscar Arias. But no U.S. sanctions means Hondurans have won.

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