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"Objectively Pro-Fascist":

Roger Simon writes (thanks to InstaPundit for the pointer):

I don't know much about Honduras, but I do know something about Iran. And Obama's bizarre behavior, taking days to come to the conclusion any decent person knew immediately, indeed other world leaders like Merkel and Sarkozy had demonstrated as much - that there were very clear good and evil sides in the Iranian election, even though the good wasn't perfect. (Is it ever?) So when I heard that our President had joined Chavez and Castro in condemnation of the supposed coup in Honduras, this time with immediacy, I felt a tightening in the gut. Chavez particularly was on the side of Ahmadinejad in the recent Iranian brutality.

This was a side I didn't want to be on, didn't want our country on. I heard many suspicious things about Zelaya, the booted Honduran president, including allegations of drug ties. Also, he was running for succor to the UN, the very organization just weeks ago I had personally seen embrace Ahmadinejad in Geneva. So when I read this message from a Honduran on The Corner, I wasn't surprised.

Obama has strange friends. He equivocates and equalizes in disturbing ways. Is he "objectively pro-fascist" as George Orwell memorably wrote in his famous essay "Pacifism and the War"?

I give you Eric Arthur Blair. Make of it what you will. For me, the word "pacifism" could be replaced by some coinage (it's too late here in LA for me to come up with one, if I could anyway) that encapsulates Obamaism in its supposedly even-handed international policy: "Pacifism is objectively pro-Fascist. This is elementary common sense. If you hamper the war effort of one side you automatically help that of the other."

Now I have nothing helpful to say about the Administration's actual policy on Iran and Honduras; but I do want to repeat something I posted about the "objectively pro-fascist" locution six years ago. In a Dec. 8, 1944 column, it turns out, Orwell himself repudiated the assertion that Simon quotes:

The same propaganda tricks are to be found almost everywhere. It would take many pages of this paper merely to classify them, but here I draw attention to one very widespread controversial habit — disregard of an opponent's motives. The key-word here is "objectively".

We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort, are "objectively" aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true, the "objectively" line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore "Trotskyism is Fascism". And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated....

In my opinion a few pacifists are inwardly pro-Nazi, and extremist left-wing parties will inevitably contain Fascist spies. The important thing is to discover which individuals are honest and which are not, and the usual blanket accusation merely makes this more difficult. The atmosphere of hatred in which controversy is conducted blinds people to considerations of this kind. To admit that an opponent might be both honest and intelligent is felt to be intolerable. It is more immediately satisfying to shout that he is a fool or a scoundrel, or both, than to find out what he is really like. It is this habit of mind, among other things, that has made political prediction in our time so remarkably unsuccessful.

Naturally, appeals to authority can only count for so much, especially when the authority has contradicted itself. And perhaps Orwell's change of mind was occasioned by the change from the dark days of 1942 to post-D-day, post-Stalingrad 1944. It is easier to be generous to those who, in your view, helped Hitler (even unintentionally) when Hitler is nearly defeated.

Yet I think that Orwell's second thoughts, whatever their reason, were objectively the right ones. Explaining why your adversaries' positions unintentionally help fascists is eminently legitimate. But expressly acknowledging that this effect is likely unintentional is both fairer and more likely to persuade the other side, as well as the undecided.

Blue:
Obama's not pro-fascist but he is objectively anti-American regarding most of our post-WW II foreign policy. He's clearly using his position to apologize for Mossadegh and the Shah in Iran and for various US interventions in CA with Honduras (whom he appears to be ready to explictly hand over to Chavez/Castro's tender mercies). He's also frosty to the Brits because of his dad's experience with them as a colonial power in Kenya.
7.1.2009 12:31pm
RPT (mail):
Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and GWB were "objectively pro Saddam Hussein". Prescott Bush was "objectively [and financially] pro Nazi Germany." It appears that we are getting one post after another of name calling without substance: Lindgren, Kopel, Bernstein, and now this one.
7.1.2009 12:35pm
ruuffles (mail) (www):

Obama's not pro-fascist but he is objectively anti-American regarding most of our post-WW II foreign policy. He's clearly using his position to apologize for Mossadegh and the Shah in Iran and for various US interventions in CA with Honduras

Why of course. Being objectively pro-American means never having to apologize. AMERICA F*** YEAH!! WHOO WHOO WHOO
7.1.2009 12:35pm
RPT (mail):
Can't dispute the high quality of the posts on Simon's website:
Obama is a secret "Commie-Islamo-Fascist".
7.1.2009 12:38pm
Oren:
Given that both the Supreme Court and the Congress of Honduras have formally taken action to remove him, I don't see what's so illegitimate about the "coup"? What is the basis for asserting that?

One wonders, if Nixon had refused to step down after being removed by the Senate, would the US military have obeyed him as CinC (despite the fact that, after the Senate takes the final vote and impeaches him, he is no longer the CinC)?
7.1.2009 12:40pm
Desiderius:
Hear, hear.

What does remain clear however is that the Obama administration and even more so the forces which put him into office and thus he needs to placate are none too enthusiastically pro-liberal.
7.1.2009 12:44pm
MCM (mail):
Obama's not pro-fascist but he is objectively anti-American regarding blah blah blah


Did you not even read the post.
7.1.2009 12:47pm
Joe T. Guest:
On the side of the boot, rather than the side of the face, regardless of who is wearing the boot. I'm not sure if "fascist" is the right term because that denotes a particular kind of coziness between the state and corporations - the U.S. is trending in this direction, the state certainly dominates Iranian business, but I can't speak for Honduras. I think Statist is the right term - the worship of government power, sometimes regardless of who wields it.

Though the SecState did say last week that the liberal outlook of the Administration would naturally make the Administration very supportive of leftist regimes - those heroic champions of universal rights...
7.1.2009 12:48pm
ruuffles (mail) (www):

One wonders, if Nixon had refused to step down after being removed by the Senate, would the US military have obeyed him as CinC

You don't need to wonder, just look at Blago. IIRC, after the Senate removed him, the locks on his office were changed.

The real question is, if Nixon refused to step down, would the military have stormed the White House in the middle of the night, take him to Andrews AFB and fly him to Canada?
7.1.2009 12:48pm
anomdebus (mail):
RPT,
The post I read repudiates the "people who are against me are for the people I am against" argument; or in other words, it is anti-name calling.
The only thing I find lacking is a way of encouraging a way of not overreacting in the first place to an unexpected change.
7.1.2009 12:48pm
ck:
Obama is pursuing a deliberate strategy with respect to Iran. He obviously wants the protests to "succeed" (whatever that might mean) - witness the State Dept's request to Twitter to keep their site up during Iran's daylight hours. But he thinks they are more likely to succeed if they are not viewed as a U.S. front operation.

Maybe he's wrong about that. You could certainly make that argument. You could argue that there is some benefit to rhetorical support of the protests that outweighs the costs. We could have a civil, thoughtful conversation about the relative advantages and disadvantages, understanding that we all want the same thing, and just have different ideas about the best way to get there.

Naturally, we won't.
7.1.2009 12:49pm
alkali (mail):
Simon writes:

I heard many suspicious things about Zelaya, the booted Honduran president, including allegations of drug ties.

Um, really? The CEO of Pajamas Media regularly gets well-informed information about the secret activities of the Honduran president? I think I'm pretty well informed, and I couldn't have named the Honduran president a week ago.
7.1.2009 12:49pm
ruuffles (mail) (www):

He's also frosty to the Brits because of his dad's experience with them as a colonial power in Kenya.

Hmm, let's see. Being frosty but still collegial, vs invading the f'ing country for no reason? Hmm.
7.1.2009 12:50pm
ruuffles (mail) (www):

What does remain clear however is that the Obama administration and even more so the forces which put him into office and thus he needs to placate are none too enthusiastically pro-liberal.

Huh. Why, now that I think about it, you're right. The military stormed the White House, took Bush at gunpoint, drove him to Andrews, and flew him to Canada. On ACORN's orders.

Or he was democratically elected in via the same system that elected Bush.
7.1.2009 12:53pm
Oren:

You don't need to wonder, just look at Blago. IIRC, after the Senate removed him, the locks on his office were changed.

Blago didn't have a guard of US Marines. Big difference.


The real question is, if Nixon refused to step down, would the military have stormed the White House in the middle of the night, take him to Andrews AFB and fly him to Canada?

After a long enough period of obstinence (to the point where it was clear he would not obey Congress nor the Court, as our Honduran friend did), the use of military force to physically remove him would be appropriate.
7.1.2009 12:53pm
J.L.S (mail):
On Iran, it isn't clear to me that Obama's delayed response reflects ambivalence re the respective sides' moral stature, and not ambivalence over the unintended effects his words might have on the better cause.

And on Honduras, presumably the reason the president's removal is a "coup" is that it is extraconstitutional--i.e., the same reason the courts and military were objecting to the president's proposed term-limit abolition. It is disappointing, though, that most of the press and world opinion seems not to distinguish the motives of this coup (long-term maintenance of the rule of law) and Latin American coups from years past (frequently, raw power or international influence).
7.1.2009 12:55pm
ruuffles (mail) (www):

After a long enough period of obstinence (to the point where it was clear he would not obey Congress nor the Court, as our Honduran friend did), the use of military force to physically remove him would be appropriate.

Seriously? Nixon would be a civilian as soon as he was impeached. Then he would be trespassing in the WH and the Secret Service or Capitol Police would escort him out. You're making things too conspiratorial.
7.1.2009 12:55pm
ruuffles (mail) (www):
OOps. Obviously meant "removed" and not "impeached."
7.1.2009 12:56pm
The River Temoc (mail):
He's clearly using his position to apologize for Mossadegh and the Shah in Iran

Is it your contention that we did right by Mossadegh and have nothing to apologize for?
7.1.2009 1:03pm
GMUSOL05:

"Obama’s ... taking days to come to the conclusion any decent person knew immediately ... that there were very clear good and evil sides in the Iranian election...."



I'm sorry, but I'm supposed to keep reading this guy's "analysis" after he writes something so mind-bogglingly stupid?
7.1.2009 1:05pm
Blue:
Temoc, we did what we needed to do in the context of the Cold War--support anti-Soviet forces wherever possible.

Obama seems bound and determined to implement a Zinn-esque foreign policy "apologizing" for all of those actions.
7.1.2009 1:09pm
Sarcastro (www):
Hey, so the guy likes a quote. Who among us is not guilty of a bit of flogging a soundbyte to death?
7.1.2009 1:10pm
Angus:
Simon blasts Obama's responses because a) protests over a disputed election between an anti-American candidate and a slightly less anti-American candidate, and b) a military coup of a democratically elected president, are exactly the same thing requiring exactly the same response. Amirite?
7.1.2009 1:16pm
The Unbeliever:
I'll play devil's advocate for a second, at the risk of arguing with a dead man who already argued against himelf on the same point. If you can't make an objective assessment of a movement by their actions or their selective inaction, what objective criteria exists?

Political speech and propaganda can be calculating and include varying levels of dishonesty. Diplomatic negotiations, speech, and soft actions (such as issuing statements and condemnations) involve similar levels calculation for political advantage. At some point speech becomes unreliable, and the people who must make hard decisions in order to "get things done" need to know who is reliable, who has pro- or anti- tendencies, and which way persons in power will tend to act.

If Orwell's pacifists say "we are NOT pro-facist, but we refuse to ever resist them", does the first part of that statement actually matter in the real world?

If a politician issues 30 press releases a day claiming he is not pro-Leftist, and people calling him as such are whacko Rightist radicals... yet he consistently sides with the Left... does it really matter how hard he justifies avoiding pro- or anti- labels, when his future actions become so easy to predict?

If a deposed president claims he neeeds to be re-instated in order to preserve democracy in the country that ousted him; if he parrots a close copy of the classic American republican ideals; do we have to take his rhetoric at face value when it was his attempt to overthrow those very democratic processes that prompted the country's legitimate institutions to kick him out in the first place?
7.1.2009 1:17pm
interruptus:

Temoc, we did what we needed to do in the context of the Cold War--support anti-Soviet forces wherever possible.

Obama seems bound and determined to implement a Zinn-esque foreign policy "apologizing" for all of those actions.

It's hardly only Zinn types taking that view. A lot of conservatives (especially libertarian-leaning conservatives and paleoconservatives) are of the opinion that US policy during the Cold War was at times unnecessary or counterproductive. At the very least it damaged our authority as "leader of the free world" to support Pinochet types, and the backlash increased the popularity of left-wing ideologies in much of South America.
7.1.2009 1:17pm
Angus:
Given that both the Supreme Court and the Congress of Honduras have formally taken action to remove him, I don't see what's so illegitimate about the "coup"? What is the basis for asserting that?

From what I've read, the issue is that the Supreme Court and Congress took unconstitutional action. Rather than try to impeach and remove the guy (which might or might not have passed their Congress), then resorting to the army if he refused to leave, they instead just jumped right to the military removal part.
7.1.2009 1:18pm
Blue:
Interruptus, that argument is essentially ahistorical. Had we not resisted the Soviets in places like Chile South and Central America could easily have fallen under the yoke of the Eastern Bloc. Just because Pinochet was bad doesn't mean the alternative was better.
7.1.2009 1:20pm
anotherpsychdoc (mail):
This seems like a lot of frosting to add on to the cake of questioning why the president chose this, seemingly odd, reaction to the situation in Honduras.
7.1.2009 1:20pm
Blue:
Psychdoc, he chose it because he percieves it as a low cost way to throw some red (blue?) meat to the Chavez/Castro-loving part of his base. It really is that simple.
7.1.2009 1:22pm
MCM (mail):
Interruptus, that argument is essentially ahistorical. Had we not resisted the Soviets in places like Chile South and Central America could easily have fallen under the yoke of the Eastern Bloc. Just because Pinochet was bad doesn't mean the alternative was better.


And if we hadn't interfered so much in Cuba after 1898 maybe the revolution never would have happened. We can do this all day.
7.1.2009 1:26pm
Henry679 (mail):
I guess the entire OAS are comsymps, too. Of course, only America's neo-cons are virtuous once again.

Really, why don't we just sit this one out? Choosing between a wanna-be leftist thug and a military coup--I'll have the pie ala mode, please.
7.1.2009 1:26pm
Thales (mail) (www):
Interesting possible rebuttal from Orwell's future self.

The neoconservative critique of the President's foreign policy should be compared with the coherence and efficacy of the policies the critic actually advocates. It's not clear to me that there's any internal inconsistency between the President's statements about Iran and those about Honduras. In both cases he indicated that democracy and the existing legal framework should be respected, but pulled back in the case of Iran from publicly speaking early or harshly about the actual results of Iran's election (he only condemned the clear human rights abuses in the crackdown) to avoid the (unhelpful) perception of U.S. interference or encouraging the reformists to rebel, when in point of fact the U.S. can't prove the fraud or provide any real support to the other side without hurting its chances of success. In the case of Honduras, an elected President was removed, by all appearances, through extraconstitutional means involving military force, which has security implications beyond the borders of Honduras There was not even a pretense of democratic legitimacy, and the international community has roundly condemned the actions. That Chavez and Castro happen to be in that community doesn't make Obama pro- or anti-anything in particular.
7.1.2009 1:27pm
George Smith:
Angus - was it unconstitutional for the Honduran SC to declare that the President's attempted referendum to extend his term in office was unconstitutional? It seems pretty clear form the news that the President there was attempting to circumvent Honduran law. He may have been dealt with in a manner that some disapprove, but he doesn't seem like the one who has the law on his side.
7.1.2009 1:40pm
BGates:
Obama respects the existing legal framework both in the authoritarian theocracy in Iran as well as the constitutional republic in Honduras. No inconsistency there. He didn't want to give the perception of American interference in Iran because we have interfered in that country in the past, but felt no such compunctions about Honduras. No inconsistency there. The situation in Honduras has security implications beyond its borders, while Iran is a sleepy backwater of 70 million people developing nuclear weapons. In Honduras an elected President was removed through extraconstitutional means. The only people who say otherwise are the Honduran Supreme Court, Congress, and Attorney General.
7.1.2009 1:41pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Wasn't the 'objectively [bad ideology]' construct originally used by the Communists?

You don't often see Roger Simon flogging leftist memes.
7.1.2009 1:49pm
Lyric Critic:
RPT:
RTFA
7.1.2009 2:00pm
Jorje (mail):
Roger Simon, and anyone who wants to emply Orwell on their behalf in a "left versus right" debate, would do well to read Christopher Hitchens's Why Orwell Matters (2003), especially chapters 2 ("Orwell and the Left") and 3 ("Orwell and the Right").
7.1.2009 2:01pm
The Unbeliever:
In the case of Honduras, an elected President was removed, by all appearances, through extraconstitutional means involving military force, which has security implications beyond the borders of Honduras There was not even a pretense of democratic legitimacy,
Granted I have a very limited grasp of Honduran constitutional law, but I understand their military has a very different duty in upholding the constitution than the US Armed Forces do. The military seems to have more of a vested power of enforcement, if not directly under the Supreme Court's direction, then at least to enforce compliance with its rulings.

Given the president's apparent attempt to end-run around the constitution (when their Supreme Court ruled the referendum unconstitutional), it appears the military may actually have been obligated to take some action. Maybe it could have been satisifed by shutting down the referendum instead; but when they tried, Zelaya fired the top general who defied him. Then he tried to run the referendum in direct defiance of the ruling:
Calculating that some critical mass of Hondurans would take his side, the president decided he would run the referendum himself. So on Thursday he led a mob that broke into the military installation where the ballots from Venezuela were being stored and then had his supporters distribute them in defiance of the Supreme Court's order.

The attorney general had already made clear that the referendum was illegal, and he further announced that he would prosecute anyone involved in carrying it out. Yesterday, Mr. Zelaya was arrested by the military and is now in exile in Costa Rica.
It might be an interesting legal question whether he can be held outside the country, but as a pragmatic matter this was probably a wise move on the military's part.
and the international community has roundly condemned the actions. That Chavez and Castro happen to be in that community doesn't make Obama pro- or anti-anything in particular.
Yes, well, the international community will get its knickers in a twist any time the status quo gets upset. The much-vaunted international community has no vested interest in democracy, human rights, or any other "higher" principles; they are always on the side of national sovereignty, stability, and clean successions of power. Otherwise, how do they know which dictator has the authority to negotiate with them?
7.1.2009 2:11pm
Another David (mail):
Interruptus, that argument is essentially ahistorical. Had we not resisted the Soviets in places like Chile South and Central America could easily have fallen under the yoke of the Eastern Bloc. Just because Pinochet was bad doesn't mean the alternative was better.


No, that argument is ahistorical. "We did X" is provable. "If we hadn't done X, Y would have happened instead" is not.

The US supported unpopular dictators. That's a fact. We had reasons to, but that doesn't meant the people who suffered under those dictators (and, in Iran's case, tried to install an alternative and saw him toppled by us) should treat it as water under the bridge.
7.1.2009 2:14pm
byomtov (mail):
What ck said at 12:49.

The critics of Obama's statements on Iran seem unable to understand that he thought what he did was the best way to help the protesters. Maybe he was right, maybe not. But the critics don't want to discuss that.

Instead they seem to think the thing to do was for Obama to make belligerent statements, heedless of the consequences, or whether that would help achieve our objectives. Maybe it's a good idea not to just let ego drive policy.
7.1.2009 2:18pm
GMS:
Guys, you forget that Obama is a constitutional scholar. He is perfectly well equipped to summarily adjudicate separation-of-powers disputes between the various branches of the Honduran government, certainly more so than the Honduran Supreme Court or legislature. I mean, they speak Spanish or something, for goodness sake -- they can't be expected to know the nuances of their country's constitutional order. In fact, I think Obama wrote a Harvard Law Review note on this, although it was probably unsigned.
7.1.2009 2:23pm
Greek Geek:
Wait - something is happening in the world other than michael jackson's will and children? Who knew!!
7.1.2009 2:26pm
Angus:
The much-vaunted international community has no vested interest in democracy, human rights, or any other "higher" principles

Absolutely, the best way to guarantee democracy is through the use of extralegal military coups, including forged resignation letters.

I'd never heard of the Honduran president before his ouster, and I don't care much about him now. What I do care about are the ridiculous right-wingers proclaiming this as a victory for democracy. It's not. Maybe a military coup was the only option left in Honduras, but if so that represents the failure of their democracy, not the triumph.
7.1.2009 2:27pm
cboldt (mail):
Anatomy of a coup: Honduran's ouster months in the making

Zelaya started distributing the ballots nationwide on Saturday. ...

At 9 that night, Vásquez said he was called to another meeting with the members of the Supreme Court and the attorney general, where he was shown a court order to arrest Zelaya.

Vásquez said the president had published another decree, showing he planned to take the nonbinding referendum a step further by ordering the constitutional reform to begin right away.

That, Vásquez said, is considered an "act of treason."

Acting on the court order, Vásquez said he supervised an 18-point mission to seize the ballots around the nation -- and capture the president. Zelaya was spirited out of his bedroom and sent in his pajamas to Costa Rica in a quest to avoid violence, Vásquez said.

"He is an excellent boss. He is a good person. I tried to have a friendship with him, but the friendship ends with duty," Vásquez said. "We had to get him out of the area to avoid worse things. We felt that if he stayed here, worse things were going to happen and there would be bloodshed.
7.1.2009 2:28pm
BGates:
Maybe it's a good idea not to just let ego drive policy.

Thank goodness policy is driven by Captain Humility, then.

Instead they seem to think the thing to do was for Obama to make belligerent statements

The kind he ended up making? I'm never sure when arguing with an Obamaton whether he's defending Obama's statements from last week or Obama's statements from today.
7.1.2009 2:31pm
BGates:
What I do care about are the ridiculous right-wingers proclaiming this as a victory for democracy

Having another leftist dictator in Central America would be a small price to pay to piss off the wingers, right?
7.1.2009 2:34pm
Blue:
Another David, the ahistorical tale is that, somehow, the guys we knocked off were somehow going to be better for their people than our guys. That somehow Allende would NOT have become another Castro, for example.
7.1.2009 2:37pm
LTEC (mail) (www):
E.V and the later Orwell are right in a strictly logical sense, but often wrong in practice. As far as I know, almost everyone who opposed fighting Hitler also refused to make strong condemnations of him. Were there even three people who said, "Hitler is a monster, and it would be a disaster for both Europe and the United States if England is defeated, but nonetheless I don't think it is in American interests to enter the war (or, I think it would be morally wrong)"? It was usually impossible to tell if someone's pacifist feelings were making them sympathetic with fascism or the other way around, since the two views were usually held together.

It's perfectly logical to say, "The U.S. is on the right side in Iraq, and Saddam and those fighting us are monsters", but we shouldn't have invaded." It is also logical to continue, "There will be a humanitarian disaster if we leave, but we should do it anyway". However, almost no one said this. For example, almost every "anti-war" person applauded the shoe-thrower in Iraq, in spite of the fact that he was on the side of one of the terrorist groups. Did his supporters not know this, or did they really not care?
7.1.2009 2:44pm
James Gibson (mail):
Coup d'etat: The sudden overthrow of a government by a usually small group of persons in or previously in positions of authority or a sudden and decisive action in politics, esp. one resulting in a change of government illegally or by force.

Can anyone explain to me what Coup d'etat actually occurred. The president was trying to implement a public vote using documents printed in a foreign country (Venezuela) because the proposed action was illegal under the Honduran Constitution.

The Army commander required to distribute the ballots informed the President of this fact and was obeying the Supreme Court and the Congress in not distributing the ballots. Thus, he was fired like certain Inspector Generals recently here in the USA and the ballots seized by force by supporters of the president.

The president was informed by representatives of his own party that he was in violation of the laws and suggested he was mentally unstable. Like the Illinois legislature telling Blago to knock off the money making. Since the countries Vice President had resigned to run for president in the coming November election, an interim president was selected by the Honduran Congress to complete the term.

In the end the party the president representated is still in power, the Congress of Honduras is still in session, the old VP is still in the running for the office of President in November, and the Supreme Court is also still in session.

Given all this and the knowledge that if the President was able to implement his ballot the Congress could have been over thrown, the VP arrested and barred from running for president against the sitting president, and the court taken into custody, who was actually planning a Coup D'etat verses who stopped one.
7.1.2009 2:47pm
frankcross (mail):
I think the defenders' of the Honduran military are running away from the point.

It may well have been legal and constitutional to remove Zelaya from office. I don't think any commenters, including me, know for sure, but it seems plausible under the national constitution.

However, it seems plainly illegal for the Honduran military to have exiled him, to have cut off television coverage, to have shut down electricity in the capital, and to have arrested an executive officer and a mayor, as the WSJ reported. It is this set of actions that appear to be an illegal coup.
7.1.2009 2:52pm
FantasiaWHT:
This just makes me wish people had paid more attention to Obama's associations with Rev. Wright and Bill Ayers. The man obviously doesn't care what sort of scum he associates with or supports if he thinks he can get something out of it.
7.1.2009 2:56pm
The Unbeliever:
I'd never heard of the Honduran president before his ouster, and I don't care much about him now. What I do care about are the ridiculous right-wingers proclaiming this as a victory for democracy. It's not.
Neither I, nor any of the "right-wingers" I've read on the subject, have called it a victory for democracy.

In fact I wouldn't call it a "victory" of any kind. It seems to be more of an unfortunate step undertaken by the legitimate government of Honduras... with the emphasis being on the word legitimate. Zelaya lost the protection of legitimacy when he defied the Court, fired the top general, and led a mob to ram through an illegal referendum.

And when the international community clamors for Zelaya's re-instatement, they are expressly supporting an illegitimate actor over the legitimate actions of another. Obama's support particularly rankles, because the US is supposed to be the poster child for rule of law and peaceful transitions of power--two things we tend to take for granted here; we often forget how rare they are in other parts of the world.

Maybe a military coup was the only option left in Honduras, but if so that represents the failure of their democracy, not the triumph.
Unfortunate that it took military action to enforce the laws of a democracy, yes. But I wouldn't call it a failure until the government actually collapses; right now, it is an uncompleted test of that democracy's structure.

Remember, a government is bigger than any one person in the government. A democracy or republic's resilience can be measured by its ability to survive the bad acting of its leaders. The Honduran governmental structure remains, even while an attempted strongman president cools his heels in exile; if another is elected, the democracy continues.

But if the US or UN forced the Honduran government to re-accept Zelaya back, or imposes sanctions until he is re-installed, then that would be a true failure of the democratic workings of the government, even if a democratically elected president gets his office back.
7.1.2009 3:01pm
SG:
The perception Obama has given me is that he's more comfortable with autocratic governments. It's not limited to Iran and Honduras, look at the attempts to subvert the Israeli government, his obsequiousness to the King of Saud, he gives (region 1) DVDs to the British PM and embraces Hugo Chavez. He couldn't even be bothered to praise Iraq's democracy in yesterday's handover.

Now I may be misinterpreting all of these things, drawing invalid conclusions from disparate events, etc, etc. There's a reasonable argument that the best thing the president to do with regard to the Iranian protests was to keep a low profile, but at this point I don't believe that explanation for Obama's (initial) reaction. I'm inclined to believe that he preferred the "Supreme Leader" and his hand-picked representative over the messy output of a revolution.

I would like for events to prove me wrong.
7.1.2009 3:03pm
Mark Buehner (mail):

From what I've read, the issue is that the Supreme Court and Congress took unconstitutional action. Rather than try to impeach and remove the guy (which might or might not have passed their Congress), then resorting to the army if he refused to leave, they instead just jumped right to the military removal part.


There is no mechanism for impeachment in the Honduran constitution.

There is, however, an article making it illegal to even seek the extension of the presidential term, with the penalty of being removed from office (again no mechanism stated for that process).

ARTICLE 239: The citizen that has performed [under] the title of Executive Power cannot be President or Designate.
Whoever breaks this provision/regulation or proposes its reform, as well as those who support directly of indirectly [the breaking of this provision/regulation], will cease immediately in their performance of their relative charges (public office?), and are inelegible from public office for a period of 10 years.


and the final article of the constitution reads:

ARTICULO 375.- Esta Constitución no pierde su vigencia ni deja de cumplirse por acto de fuerza o cuando fuere supuestamente derogada o modificada por cualquier otro medio y procedimiento distintos del que ella mismo dispone. En estos casos, todo ciudadano investido o no de autoridad, tiene el deber de colaborar en el mantenimiento o restablecimiento de su afectiva vigencia.

If my translation is correct, requires "all citizen invested or not with authority, must have to collaborate in the maintenance or reestablishment of its {the consitution's} affective use."

Taken as a whole- there is no defined mechanism for removing the president, however the consitution requires his removal for violation of the specific act he defied the courts on. Finally the constitution indicates the citizens of Honduras, in or out of power, are to defend and reestablish violation of the constitution.

Doesn't that sound essentially like what happened here? If nothing else there is an argument to be made, and Obama had no business jumping the gun without details. Particularly after being so adamant about respecting Iranian internal affairs.
7.1.2009 3:15pm
James Gibson (mail):
Frankcross, can you place a link to the WSJ article that gave you your information. There are several articles but I have not seen anything about the cutting of power to the Honduran capital. Media is reported to have been curtailed, though the major protests of this seem to be coming from a Venezuelan station with people in Honduras to cover the presidents ballot. Of course the Zelaya and Chavez apologist will state that the stations and newspapers still operating are only the propaganda rags for the coup leaders; People which it turns out are the party officials of the political party Zelaya is supposed to be a member of.
7.1.2009 3:16pm
The River Temoc (mail):
[Comment containing pointless insults of another commenter deleted. Folks, you can make your substantive points just fine while remaining civil to each other. -EV]
7.1.2009 3:21pm
Jonny Scrum-half (mail):
LTEC -- I don't know the people you've read or whom you've engaged in conversation regarding the Iraq War, but I can tell you that the crew at The American Conservative generally held the view that Saddam was a bad guy, but nonetheless we had no business invading Iraq. Ron Paul did, as well. I did, too.

I don't even know of anyone who "applauded" the shoe thrower. As far as I could tell, people saw that as objective confirmation of what the Bush supporters had been trying to deny -- that the Iraqi people were unhappy with our occupation.
7.1.2009 3:26pm
Mark Buehner (mail):

However, it seems plainly illegal for the Honduran military to have exiled him, to have cut off television coverage, to have shut down electricity in the capital, and to have arrested an executive officer and a mayor, as the WSJ reported. It is this set of actions that appear to be an illegal coup.


Again- I don't know how you go about stating what is plainly legal or not without even looking at Honduran law.

At the end of the day, if you accept the logic of the president being removed from power as a constitution duty or even requirement, all of those things you list are basically part and parcel. A president will surely have his own partisans (likely armed), and in the interest of order and minimal bloodshed, those acts are simply prudent. Whether they broke any laws or went to far is for the justice system of Honduras to decide under the new president as approved by the Congress and the Courts.

This whole discussion IS odd in light of Iran. Say what you want no-one is really questing whether Iran is obeying their own laws when they send the police to beat peaceful protesters... it may be framed as a moral or human rights question, but why suddenly are we so quick to nitpick Honduran law (in fact we are ignoring it and for some reason assuming it is analogous to US constitutional law, which it isnt).
7.1.2009 3:28pm
RPT (mail):
"LC:

RPT:
RTFA"

Sorry, but I don't speak in code or buzzword. Please spell out exactly what you mean here.
7.1.2009 3:30pm
RPT (mail):
"LC:

RPT:
RTFA"

Sorry, but I don't speak in code or buzzword. Please spell out exactly what you mean here.
7.1.2009 3:30pm
Seerak (mail) (www):
But expressly acknowledging that this effect is likely unintentional is both fairer and more likely to persuade the other side, as well as the undecided.

That only applies to people who actually ARE honest, i.e. *open* to being persuaded.

Otherwise, it makes no moral difference what their sincerest intentions were; their end-of-road is not contingent upon their intentions, but upon what they actually think, and the internal logic thereof -- and those people remain morally responsible for knowing what the logical end-of-road of their ideology is. If your road leads to Gomorrah, you will arrive in Gomorrah, and reality cares not a whit for where you *wanted* to go... and morally, you remain responsible for knowing the difference.

THIS is why I regard statists of all stripes as objectively pro-tyranny. While most such individuals have no intention of bringing us to such a pass, that does not alter their responsibility for failing to understand the difference between where they want or imagine their ideas to lead, and where those ideas will *actually* lead. Screaming "But I didn't mean THIS!" amidst the ruination at the end of their ideological road will absolve them of exactly NOTHING.
7.1.2009 3:30pm
doubled (mail):
Angus states:
Absolutely, the best way to guarantee democracy is through the use of extralegal military coups, including forged resignation letters.

I'd never heard of the Honduran president before his ouster, and I don't care much about him now. What I do care about are the ridiculous right-wingers proclaiming this as a victory for democracy. It's not. Maybe a military coup was the only option left in Honduras, but if so that represents the failure of their democracy, not the triumph.




Angus, you really should check out some other sites on the internet about this story. Thousands rally against the attempted power grab of Zaleya, 200 showed up at separate rally for Zaleya.

http://www.qando.net/
7.1.2009 3:35pm
ck:
James Gibson, the power and media shutdowns were widely reported. Here is an AP article:


When Zelaya was first arrested Sunday morning, power was cut throughout the capital and all radio and television stations went off the air or simply played traditional "marimba" music. Most networks resumed transmission a few hours later, but they have provided little coverage of the protests outside the military-occupied presidential palace.

The media apparently have been acting on orders from the government, though it is unclear who has been giving them. Soldiers have been posted around some television and radio stations and around the national power and phone companies.
7.1.2009 3:39pm
doubled (mail):
One last thought to angus: democracy is not only verified when the elite gets to shove it's perferred canidate on the populace.
7.1.2009 3:44pm
rosetta's stones:
Taken as a whole- there is no defined mechanism for removing the president, however the consitution requires his removal for violation of the specific act he defied the courts on. Finally the constitution indicates the citizens of Honduras, in or out of power, are to defend and reestablish violation of the constitution.

Doesn't that sound essentially like what happened here? If nothing else there is an argument to be made, and Obama had no business jumping the gun without details. Particularly after being so adamant about respecting Iranian internal affairs.


Yes, if the situation is as you describe it, the process in Honduras seems to have followed the Honduran constitution, and this is not technically a coup, then. If the Honduran constitution was recognized as legitimate previous to this, it must be today as well. It's their process, and they appear to have followed it.

Bad move to reinstate the old guy. We supported that in Haiti, and the effort helped precisely nobody.

Obama is being castigated because he, first, offered unconditional negotiations with a gang of totalitarian religious thugs (thus legitimizing their thuggery, and encouraging them to do such as rig elections), and second, was slow to respond when the people being thugged started demostrating against those thugocrats, who proceeded to gun them down in the streets.

Following this despicable display, he was nanosecond quick to denounce the (arguably constitutional) process in Honduras, and the handling of these 2 international situations are clearly incongruous in both timing and final effect.

Fine to be temperate in your remarks, but you have to be consistently temperate, and keep away from overt statements that legitimize thuggery, and thugocrats. Especially when there's nothing to be gained by it... check the mullahs' responses to Obama these past days if you require confirmation. He's learning the hard way, but let's hope he does learn.

And, best not to physically bow down before thugocrats, as he did with the Saudi schmuck. It's more than just protocol that a US president, who is both head of state and government, does not bow before royalty. Fine that a young community organizer didn't understand this imperative, but a president must.
7.1.2009 3:44pm
ck:
1) Since rhetorical support for Iranian protestors would backfire and hurt their movement*, Obama critics are objectively pro-Ahmadinejad and pro-Khamenei.

2) Since failure to condemn the Honduran military coup will lead to more coups in the future*, Obama critics are objectively pro-military-dictatorship and anti-democracy.

* If you disagree it means you are dishonest, historically ignorant, and morally irresponsible.

I trust you are persuaded by my constructive arguments.
7.1.2009 3:54pm
The Unbeliever:
For what it's worth, the Honduran military is saying Zelaya's arrest was not a coup.
Flipping through a stack of legal opinions and holding up a detention order signed by a Supreme Court judge, the chief lawyer of the Honduran armed forces insisted that what soldiers carried out over the weekend when they detained President Manuel Zelaya was no coup d’état.

"A coup is a political move," the lawyer, Col. Herberth Bayardo Inestroza Membreño, said Tuesday night in an interview. "It requires the armed forces to assume power over the country, which didn’t happen, and it has to break the rule of law, which didn’t happen either."
At this point I'd like to apologize because we've completely hijacked the thread from EV's original post concerning pro- and anti- labels, but I'm mildly surprised we haven't gotten a substantial post on the legalities of the Honduran situation yet.
7.1.2009 3:58pm
Richard A. (mail):
This makes no sense. Simon seems to be arguing that Obama is "pro-fascist" by opposing the Hunduran military, who are a bunch of fascists - not that there's anything wrong with that. Some of my best friends have been Central American right-wingers.

But you can't be simultaneously pro-fascist while opposing an arguably fascist effort to depose a left-wing leader.

This is a real problem for Simon and other neocons. They don't know their left from their right.

As someone who's spent years in Central America, it's really obvious when you're there.
7.1.2009 3:59pm
MarkField (mail):

Wasn't the 'objectively [bad ideology]' construct originally used by the Communists?


I used to hear it all the time from the Trots, so I assumed it came from them.
7.1.2009 4:13pm
Mark Buehner (mail):

But you can't be simultaneously pro-fascist while opposing an arguably fascist effort to depose a left-wing leader.

There are two major definitions of fascism- 1. An advocate or adherent of fascism. 2. A reactionary or dictatorial person.

If you are considering definition 1, then a left-winger can't be a fascist pretty much by definition. If you consider definition 2, any attempted power grab or despotism is apt no matter where they fall on the political spectrum.

Clearly, this discussion lends itself to definition two, the more common usage. Otherwise this entire post is nonsensical.
7.1.2009 4:17pm
SG:
Obama "subverts" the Israeli government by insisting that it not colonize occupied territory? What universe are you living in?

The universe where Obama insists it would be wrong to interfere with another nation's sovereignty and it would be wrong to interfere in their country. Oh wait, apparently that only applies when it's Iranians shooting their citizens. If it's the Israelis, well no problems with interfering with their sovereignty.

Obsequiousness to the House of Saud? This presumably refers to the (alleged) bow to King Abdullah. Get over it. It's a matter of protocol and diplomatic formalities. I mean, do you get so worked up if some government official curtsies to Queen Elizabeth II? Or are you just worked up because an Islamic country is involved? (And if so, are you equally worked up about the close personal ties between the Bush family and Prince Bandar?)

Yes, it is a matter of protocol and protocol is that the US President doesn't bow to other leaders. We don't dip our flags to them either. This is long-established protocol, and he violated it. I would be irked (although less so) if he done the same to Queen Elizabeth, but he didn't, did he? And yes, there's a fundamental difference between showing respect to an autocratic monarch and versus a symbolic monarch of a democratic republic. One is deserving of more respect than the other, although neither merits a bow from a US president.

And yes, I thought Bush's coziness with the Saud's was distasteful. I (incorrectly) thought one of the strategic goals of the Iraq war was to secure a non-Saudi source of oil so we would have some leverage over them. In hindsight, that was something Bush was never going to do.

Region 1 DVDs? OK, this was a *failure* of protocol (as was the "zagruzka" button). But countries act on the basis of national interests, not their DVD settings. If this is the best you've got on Obama, 2012 will be a cakewalk for him.

Exactly, countries act of the basis of their national interests, and I interpret Obama actions (symbolic or otherwise) as saying our nation's interest lies with autocratic despots.

Finally, please explain to me how he "embraces" Hugo Chavez.

Well, according to this,

To the White House, the friendly Obama-Chavez encounter at a weekend summit of Latin leaders was a sign of a new U.S. foreign policy aimed at improving relations around the world.


It was a planned effort to improve relations. Nor was it simply a photo-op; he's followed through. Obama's position on Honduras has him allied him with Chavez (and Castro). And why shouldn't it? By my understanding Zelaya was intending to follow in their footsteps, and Obama is supporting him in that effort.

If you're fine with the totality of the foreign policy positions Obama's taking, then bully for you. Any of them are defensible (or at least excusable) in isolation, but taken in total, I find that it paints an ugly picture. I'd like to see some position on which he doesn't defer to enemies of the US or forcefully asserts US democratic values. I haven't seen it yet, but feel free to correct my error if you're aware of any.

I was expecting to be disappointed by Obama on domestic affairs, but I didn't expect such a fundamentally illiberal foreign policy.
7.1.2009 4:21pm
geokstr (mail):

James Gibson:
Can anyone explain to me what Coup d'etat actually occurred.

(Facts and stuff snipped.)

Irrelevant and immaterial, and probably inadmissable.

A left winger who was in power and attempting to Hugo/Fidel himself as Dear Leader for Life was removed. This unspeakable act is a mortal sin in the Liberal religion, as opposed to removing a rightwinger, which is an act of the greatest good and is to be commended no matter how it's done or for what reason. Therefore, whoever did this horrific thing to the potential worker's paradise of the People's Republic of Honduras was rightwing fascisti, and de facto evil. Constitutions are not important to the left side of this argument; after all, they are "just words".

End of story.
7.1.2009 4:21pm
Sunshine is good:
as someone who took exactly 10 seconds to check Sarcastro's link, I declare this thread closed. Simon is a little worse than a hack, and certainly someone who Blair would have pilloried on the stocks of cliche-overuse.
7.1.2009 4:30pm
James Gibson (mail):
news flash Karl Malden just died.
7.1.2009 4:34pm
Don Miller (mail) (www):
Because I can not read spanish, I am relying on others to give me correct information.

My understanding is that the Supreme Court of Honduras removed the President after he proposed removing term limits from his office. The translation I saw said that immediate removal from office is the constitutional remedy for this offense.

The same blogger that provided that information also mentioned that the Honduran Constitution had a glaring omission. It didn't have an impeachment process for removal of someone from office who violated the rules.

If there was no impeachment process, and the President refused to leave office as the Constitution, the Supreme Court and the Legislature said, what other options were available to them?
7.1.2009 4:35pm
Leo Marvin (mail):
FantasiaWHT:

This just makes me wish people had paid more attention to Obama's associations with Rev. Wright and Bill Ayers.

Why so defeatist? Make them pay attention. Pitch a tent on Lubong Island, and keep at it until everyone knows Wright and Barbara Streisand spawned Obama in a ritual from Rosemary's Baby, and Ayers forged the birth certificate.
7.1.2009 4:44pm
autolykos:

This whole discussion IS odd in light of Iran. Say what you want no-one is really questing whether Iran is obeying their own laws when they send the police to beat peaceful protesters... it may be framed as a moral or human rights question, but why suddenly are we so quick to nitpick Honduran law (in fact we are ignoring it and for some reason assuming it is analogous to US constitutional law, which it isnt).


Not only that, but it looks to me like they're even going a step farther. This whole tempest seems to be based on the idea that it's inappropriate for a country's military to remove an elected leader, no matter what the law says. It strikes me as a very odd conception of democracy.
7.1.2009 4:49pm
The Unbeliever:
This makes no sense. Simon seems to be arguing that Obama is "pro-fascist" by opposing the Hunduran military, who are a bunch of fascists... But you can't be simultaneously pro-fascist while opposing an arguably fascist effort to depose a left-wing leader.
You know, for a bunch of fascists perpetrating a brutal military coup, they seem to be overly concerned with legalities and preserving the pre-"coup" rule of law:
[New foreign minister Enrique Ortez] said the interim government would seek to show that Zelaya was removed through a legal process...

Ortez dismissed the OAS warning over suspension and said a group of four member countries of the organization -- Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala and Canada -- would send representatives in a mission to observe the situation.

He said he had asked for an opportunity to defend the move to depose Zelaya.

However, in Washington, an OAS spokesman said that he was unaware of any plans to send a mission this week.

"We are going to show them all the evidence," Ortez said. He said the OAS would not throw Honduras out because Zelaya was ousted following a legal procedure.

"We're sure that we are not going to be expelled because we have done everything in a legal way."
I don't have a desk reference guide for Coups In 10 Easy Steps, but isn't it traditional at this point in the coup timeline to be talking about purging the enemies of the State, restoring order through military force, and seizing the property of some scapegoat group?

Maybe Ortez is just spinning, and maybe the top army lawyer was making it up when he waved around "a stack of legal opinions and said "A coup is a political move... It requires the armed forces to assume power over the country, which didn’t happen, and it has to break the rule of law, which didn’t happen either." But given the link to the Honduran Constitution above, and given the lack of legalese cites contradicting their position, I'm finding it hard to believe these guys are your typical military junta kicking out a political opponent just for the heck of it.
7.1.2009 4:50pm
BGates:
a left-winger can't be a fascist pretty much by definition

I'd be curious to see your definitions of "left-winger" and "fascist".
7.1.2009 5:04pm
Desiderius:
The agitprop is deep on this one.

Interruptus,

"At the very least it damaged our authority as "leader of the free world" to support Pinochet types, and the backlash increased the popularity of left-wing ideologies in much of South America."

Nice sleight of hand there. Indeed there are many across the political spectrum who regret American covert action in the last century. You then employ that growing consensus to take aim at the one case where it might have been most justified, from a liberal/libertarian perspective. Once that bridgehead is established, then the real enemy is that much closer to being taken down.

That sort of Sorelian bullshit should be left in the last century where it belongs.
7.1.2009 5:16pm
davod (mail):
"I guess the entire OAS are comsymps, too. Of course, only America's neo-cons are virtuous once again. "

I recall that the OAS just readmitted Cuba.
7.1.2009 5:21pm
Desiderius:
Yeah, yeah, yeah, insert Pinochet atrocity here. The only thing that distinguishes Pinochet from the other dictators our government assisted, often by illegal means, is his openness to economic liberalism and his effectiveness in implementing it.

To single him out as the poster boy makes clear one's agenda here. Try again.
7.1.2009 5:25pm
Mark Buehner (mail):

I'd be curious to see your definitions of "left-winger" and "fascist".

I'm talking about the two connotations of fascism- one being adherence to the specific Fascist ideology, the other being general tyranny (which is what we are discussing, and which left-wingers can surely be).

A core tenant of (big F) Fascism is a reaction against revolutionary class struggle (hence, 'reactionary'). Class struggle is the defining tenant of communism- revolutionary leftists. Hence by those definitions, a fascist can't be a leftist, by definition. The Fascist Party in Italy, for instance, was largely defined by its opposition to Bolshevism.

But my point was that the more general definition of 'fascist', which pretty much all of us subscribe to in this discussion (aside from Richard A apparently) is simply a dictator of any political stripe.
7.1.2009 5:27pm
Lyric Critic:

"LC:

RPT:
RTFA"

Sorry, but I don't speak in code or buzzword. Please spell out exactly what you mean here.


Read the F-ing Article
7.1.2009 5:57pm
Anon1111:

Class struggle is the defining tenant of communism- revolutionary leftists. Hence by those definitions, a fascist can't be a leftist, by definition.


Under your definition/understanding, can you be a leftist if you don't embrace class struggle? Does embracing class struggle define you as a leftist, communist or both?
7.1.2009 6:05pm
Mark Buehner (mail):

Under your definition/understanding, can you be a leftist if you don't embrace class struggle? Does embracing class struggle define you as a leftist, communist or both?

First- this isnt MY definition, this is the formalization of the political spectrum as generally considered in political science. Historically, the Fascist Party would sit on the far right end of the spectrum and the Communist Party would sit on the far left.

From wikipedia:
In politics, left-wing, political left, leftist and the Left are terms applied to positions that focus on changing traditional social orders and creating a more egalitarian distribution of wealth and privilege. The phrase left-wing was coined during the French Revolution, when left-wing referred to the seating arrangements in parliament; those who sat on the left supported the republic, the common people and secularization.

The concept of a distinct political Left originated with the June Days Uprising of 1848. The organizers of the First International saw themselves as the successors of the left-wing of the French Revolution. In contemporary political discourse, the term the Left usually means either social liberal or socialist.[2][3] The term is also used to describe ideologies such as communism, anarchism and social democrac


Is this controversial?
7.1.2009 6:10pm
Desiderius:
"Class struggle is the defining tenant of communism- revolutionary leftists. Hence by those definitions, a fascist can't be a leftist, by definition."

Seeing as how Fascism had already been around three decades when Stalin so helpfully offered his views on its character, perhaps it wouldn't be so wise to adopt his view wholesale. A recent ill-titled New York Times bestseller offers some post-Stalinist views on the matter, for those so inclined.
7.1.2009 6:16pm
Desiderius:
Mark Buehner,

"Is this controversial?"

What is controversial is whether fascism falls under that definition and is, therefore, a phenomenon of the Left. Given that the preferred means of changing traditional social orders at the time of the rise of Communism/Fascism were almost exclusively illiberal, it is entirely possible that Fascism, along with Communism, would fall under the definition of the Left at that time. Goldberg details the extent to which Fascism was very interested in obliterating class distinctions as well, in lieu of the Nation for Mussolini, and the Race for Hitler.

As it has become increasingly clear in the intervening years - to all but our contemporary Progressives, evidently - that illiberalism (civil, economic, political, religious) is a particularly ill-fated means of changing traditional social orders, neither Fascism nor Communism should any longer be able to claim the mantle of the Left, or the Right for that matter, which has little interest in conserving either one, and should thus be relegated to the dustbin of history where they belong.
7.1.2009 6:28pm
Mark Buehner (mail):
Desiderius, Goldberg's book sounds interesting and i'll check it out- but it's certainly not the conventional wisdom of the last 50 years. I was just laying out the cliff notes they've taught in every 100 level history and poly-sci class for years. Point being- Big F Fascism is a specific doctrine. Calling, say, Lenin a member of the Fascist Party would be inaccurate. Just as saying Mussolini was a Communist, or a Nazi. They have different specific doctrines, not all of which agree, many of which are in direct opposition (nationalism vs transnationalism, class struggle vs corporatism).

Latin America has a very specific history of Marxist movement battling Nationalist movements. If you happen on a lot of left leaning blogs right now, you will find the Honduras debate taking place entirely in the context of revolutionary workers vs the aristocrats and military... and you can't argue that that has often and largely been the tension of the region for the last century (I happen to think its NOT the story in this case).

That being the case, we have to be careful with our definitions in this particular thread. The only way to understand Latin America's, and indeed Obama's (who was educated and steeped very much in this frame of reference) knee-jerk reaction to the Honduras story is to understand this mindset. It may not be entirely accurate, but that is what the people in charge believe, so we'd do well to at least understand it.
7.1.2009 6:39pm
Anon1111:

Under your definition/understanding, can you be a leftist if you don't embrace class struggle? Does embracing class struggle define you as a leftist, communist or both?


First- this isnt MY definition, this is the formalization of the political spectrum as generally considered in political science. Historically, the Fascist Party would sit on the far right end of the spectrum and the Communist Party would sit on the far left.



That's how many people order the world, but many people can be wrong. However, that's not what I'm trying to understand, and I'm not trying to debate the point.

I'm trying to understand your connection between class struggle and leftism. Is it possible to be a leftist without embracing class struggle, or embrace class struggle without being a leftist?






From wikipedia:
In politics, left-wing, political left, leftist and the Left are terms applied to positions that focus on changing traditional social orders and creating a more egalitarian distribution of wealth and privilege.


Fascism certainly "chang[ed] the traditional social orders," and it redistributed wealth and privilege. Whether this redistribution was more egalitarian than before in fact is debatable, but certainly there was an attempt in the fascist economies to create a more egalitarian distribution, and it is debatable whether other 1920s and 1930s socialist/communist systems created a more egalitarian income distribution, in fact.



The concept of a distinct political Left originated with the June Days Uprising of 1848. The organizers of the First International saw themselves as the successors of the left-wing of the French Revolution. In contemporary political discourse, the term the Left usually means either social liberal or socialist.[2][3] The term is also used to describe ideologies such as communism, anarchism and social democrac



Clearly there is a political "left", and I agree that communism and socialism are categorized as leftist ideologies. However, if we are to say that the "left" is the opposite of the "right", then it is silly to say that fascism is on the "right", when clearly it is not the opposite of communism and socialism, but rather an ideological cousin sharing many of the same political and economic characteristics. It is more beneficial to look at classical liberalism as having less in common with either of socialism, communism and fascism than either of the three have with each other. Classical liberalism is the opposite of each of those ideologies.
7.1.2009 6:42pm
Anon1111:

Desiderius, Goldberg's book sounds interesting and i'll check it out- but it's certainly not the conventional wisdom of the last 50 years. I was just laying out the cliff notes they've taught in every 100 level history and poly-sci class for years. Point being- Big F Fascism is a specific doctrine. Calling, say, Lenin a member of the Fascist Party would be inaccurate. Just as saying Mussolini was a Communist, or a Nazi. They have different specific doctrines, not all of which agree, many of which are in direct opposition (nationalism vs transnationalism, class struggle vs corporatism).

Latin America has a very specific history of Marxist movement battling Nationalist movements. If you happen on a lot of left leaning blogs right now, you will find the Honduras debate taking place entirely in the context of revolutionary workers vs the aristocrats and military... and you can't argue that that has often and largely been the tension of the region for the last century (I happen to think its NOT the story in this case).

That being the case, we have to be careful with our definitions in this particular thread. The only way to understand Latin America's, and indeed Obama's (who was educated and steeped very much in this frame of reference) knee-jerk reaction to the Honduras story is to understand this mindset. It may not be entirely accurate, but that is what the people in charge believe, so we'd do well to at least understand it.



I would say that I agree with what you've written here, and don't find it contradictory with what I posted. I agree that the "common" definition places communism/socialism at opposites with fascism, that Obama believes this to be the case, that (modern, American) liberals (more accurately progressives) view the world through the Lennist lens whereby fascism and communism are opposites, and that we must be particular about our terms.

I just think that the "establishment" view is wrong and objectively silly.
7.1.2009 6:46pm
Desiderius:
Mark,

I disagree with nothing you say. I would only add that the Left - here and in Latin America - could benefit from updating its own definitions. Class struggle is indeed important, but class relations are not all negative-sum struggles, and in the aftermath of the march through the institutions the Left itself has divided allegiances class-wise these days, and needs to better take those into account.

It would be not only the Left who would benefit from such an updating.
7.1.2009 6:48pm
Desiderius:
Anon1111,

"Classical liberalism is the opposite of each of those ideologies."

True, but the polar opposition of classical liberalism and the Left was an accident of that particular period in history, and not essential to either liberalism (it's bigger than mere classicism) or the Left. Our own Revolution being a case in point in which the two more closely coincided.

Had France not spent centuries slaughtering and running off their bourgeoisie, their Revolution may have taken on a similar character.

Liberalism is hard work. Tribalism - of class, race, nation, etc. - is much easier.
7.1.2009 6:56pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
LTEC asks: 'Were there even three people who said, "Hitler is a monster, and it would be a disaster for both Europe and the United States if England is defeated, but nonetheless I don't think it is in American interests to enter the war (or, I think it would be morally wrong)"?'

Yes, if you substitute 'England's' for 'American.' And in influential places, too.

Please read, if your tedium threshold is high enough, 'Appeasement and All Souls,' edited by Sidney Aster. (This is the documentation behind Rowse's better-known 'All Souls and Appeasement.')
7.1.2009 7:23pm
Anon1111:

True, but the polar opposition of classical liberalism and the Left was an accident of that particular period in history, and not essential to either liberalism (it's bigger than mere classicism) or the Left. Our own Revolution being a case in point in which the two more closely coincided.


I'm confused as to what you're saying here. If you mean that "the Left", as commonly understood, is a collection of ideologies referencing the politics of a particular period of time, I don't disagree; in other words "the Left" is merely a label which has no independent ideological value other than the ideological values of the political movements that we assign as being part of "the Left."

If you mean to say that "the Left" means simply ideologies which represent change from the current status quo, I would have to part ways. Surely there is some characteristic of Leftist ideologies that embrace change (whether for change's sake is another matter), but the ideologies that we call Leftist also have reactionary elements to them as well. For instance, free market economics is, historically, quite a new development and an unusual one at that. Most societies have practiced some sort of large scale integration between the politically dominant power and the economics of the society, generally constrained only by the political power of the governing force, rather than by ideology. The Leftist impulse to integrate politics and economics is a reactionary one rather than a liberal one.

As for the US revolution (I assume you are American - if not, I apologize), I'm not sure I understand your comment, as you can see by my above thoughts.

I think that America has a political spectrum that differs from the European one. In some sense, almost everyone in America is a "liberal" broadly defined, either a "conservative liberal" (classical liberal, or conservative in American parlance) or a "progressive liberal" (a liberal or progressive in American parlance). The number of true leftists is, I would say, rather small in the US, other than on University campuses, and the number of old-line European style conservatives is almost non-existent. Throw in the Libertarians and the random nutjobs (elect the Ant People from Groxnar!), and you get the American political spectrum, which just doesn't translate to Europe, let alone Latin America.
7.1.2009 7:52pm
xahwalaewl:
In Iran, there was an election. There is considerable evidence that it was rigged, but that evidence (at least to my knowledge) is not 100% conclusive.

In Honduras, there was a democratically elected government and it was overthrown by a coup. There never was any doubt about what happened.

Why is it surprising to anyone that the President would be quicker to condemn in the latter case, where he does not have to worry about fact-checking, than in the former, where he does?
7.1.2009 7:56pm
Cato The Elder (mail):
Desiderius,

Keep doing what you do. I learn a lot from your discussions of the old Continental politics, indeed, it's a very unique and interesting perspective. Just showing a little appreciation.
7.1.2009 8:29pm
Jess:
As amply demonstrated above by numerous links to the WSJ, the Miami Herald, and other sources, there was NOT a coup. A sitting president was determined by the judiciary to have broken a requirement of the Honduran constitution. The constitutionally-specified remedy for that is removal from office. After prodding from the Supreme Court and the Attorney General, the military removed the president from office. He was replaced by someone from his own party, and previously-scheduled elections will continue as planned.

I know you guys are big fans of "the unitary executive", but try to understand that this is a different country with its own constitution and its own misreadings of that constitution.
7.1.2009 8:29pm
Bonze Saunders (mail):

xahwalaewl:

In Iran, there was an election.


An "election" where the candidates were all certified to be Islamically-Correct by the Supreme Leader and his acolytes: 4 out of 100 aspirants.

In Iran, there was a sham election.

In Honduras, a democratically-elected government expelled a proto-Chavez.

Condemning the first is a no-brainer: it's 100% fraudulent, and would be fraudulent even if Ahmadenijad had not been declared the winner.

Condemning the second is an exercise in sanctimony, since it seems to have been conducted in the spirit as well as the letter of the Honduran constitution (assuming the translations that have appeared on VC are correct).
7.1.2009 8:30pm
Cato The Elder (mail):
Xahwalaewl,

It's not the rigging; it's the beating of women in the streets, the political violence, the disdain for human rights that was immediately apparent after the Iranian vote.

Compare that to the surely more ambiguous situation in Honduras, where there was no verifiable injury to civilians.

To me, these two situations have very different moral weight. To you?

And remember, like SG remarked above, it's not just one of these plausibly ambiguous situations that underlies the full critique of Obama's foreign policy actions. Like Simon, I criticize Obama's loyalties to fundamentally American beliefs of the proper role between government and individual when one considers all of his various decisions in toto.
7.1.2009 8:39pm
Desiderius:
Cato the Elder,

"Keep doing what you do. I learn a lot from your discussions of the old Continental politics, indeed, it's a very unique and interesting perspective. Just showing a little appreciation."

Much obliged, but keep in mind that I'm largely an autodidact and at times prone to throw out ideas to discover their flaws, and my learning is not so deep, or as broad, as I may like to make it out to be. You're as likely to learn as much, if not more, from a MarkField or our esteemed posters than from someone who shares your sympathies to the extent that I do.

That said, keep doing what you do too - that voice is underrepresented in the cloistered halls of academe, so said posters and likewise situated readers might pick up a thing or two as well.
7.1.2009 9:03pm
Desiderius:
Anon1111,

By Left I'm accepting the following definition:


In politics, left-wing, political left, leftist and the Left are terms applied to positions that focus on changing traditional social orders and creating a more egalitarian distribution of wealth and privilege.


and advancing the claim that liberal (including economically liberal, i.e. libertarian) societies have achieved the most success, historically, in achieving those goals, with social mobility as a proxy for egalitarianism, as a more strict definition lends itself too well to static societies which are indeed more equal - in their misery.

Since "Left" is such a new term historically, those Lefts which restrict themselves to contemporary (or recent) understandings of what Leftism might look like do themselves the disservice of ruling out those policies which might most effectively produce the state of affairs they seek, particularly since most of the actual Lefts we've known have been so distinguished by their illiberalism, starting with Revolutionary France.
7.1.2009 9:15pm
Desiderius:
Liberal systems tend to be dynamic, organic, containing the seeds of their own continuing change, like a forest.

Illiberal systems of the traditional Left of which we've known inaugurate one-off change of a static nature, like a parking lot.
7.1.2009 9:20pm
The Unbeliever:
I'm sympathetic to the "no hard proof of election rigging" defense of Obama's Jimmy Carter-esque response (ironically, to Iran again). But he just jumped on the international community party line about Honduras, without even considering whether its government acted correctly in removing a president undertaking an illegal constitutional modification.
7.1.2009 9:21pm
MCM (mail):
That said, keep doing what you do too - that voice is underrepresented in the cloistered halls of academe, so said posters and likewise situated readers might pick up a thing or two as well.


I like how "underrepresentation in academia" has become a surefire way to judge whether or not an idea has merit.
7.1.2009 9:56pm
Anon1111:
@Desiderius - gor it. Of course the interesting question involves stated goals vs. actual outcomes. I would say that an economically liberal/free market economic structure is better at changing traditional social orders and creating a more egalitarian distribution of wealth and privilege than a "Leftist" economic structure as commonly referenced (socialist/communist/social democrat/fascist).

Which, I think, begs the question, setting aside the kleptocracies in the world, are all the other countries on the "Left"? Are there any state defenders of a medieval social order or a caste system? Off the top of my head, I can't think of one, though there may be; I suppose oil-rich Islamic states would qualify.

That said, in the US/European political world, everyone is on the "Left" side of the spectrum, advocating policies that either (1) actually result in your Leftist definition, or (2) claim to have such a result as a goal.

If this is the case, and I think that it is given your terms, which I agree are commonly accepted, how useful are they? It is like defining "tall" as any adult over 5'0", and "short" as anyone under 5'0". I would propose that a better spectrum would be rather along the lines of statism on one end and individualism on the other, with statism on the left, if we prefer the old dichotomy. On that sort of spectrum, which I think is more useful in the common debate, the lines are more clearly drawn between the statist/totalitarian philosophies and the individualist/natural rights/libertarian/classical liberal philosophies.
7.1.2009 9:58pm
Mark Bahner (www):
But he just jumped on the international community party line about Honduras, without even considering whether its government acted correctly in removing a president undertaking an illegal constitutional modification.


NPR All Things Considered has a good interview with the Honduran embassador to the U.S.

The embassador basically said exactly that...that the government of Honduras acted constitutionally in removing a president who was violating the constitution.
7.1.2009 10:59pm
Mark Buehner (mail):
What's scary is how little of the media has bothered to do the barest of investigation of this. Obama is out on a limb as well and making no effort to climb back in.

I mean, I read the WSJ article, wondered if the legislature and courts were so overwhelmingly against Zelaya why not just impeach the president, so then I wondered if indeed there was a provision for impeachment in Honduran law. Isn't that a pretty obvious question?

It took me less than an hour to find a copy of their constitution, translate it in babel fish, and discover the concept of impeachment doesn't exist. Another commenter at the same time was discovering the penalty for even trying to change the single presidential term was removal from office. Put those two simple things together and everything makes a lot more sense.

Why is no-one bothering to even LOOK at Honduran law? Their government is begging people to, it makes no sense.

I really hope somebody on Volokh will make an entire post on this. I think its a really important case study in how not to judge another nation without realizing they may just have their own constitution that differs from ours. Funny that this seems to be exactly the kind of thing Obama's diplomacy was going to stop doing.
7.1.2009 11:29pm
Desiderius:
MCM,

"I like how "underrepresentation in academia" has become a surefire way to judge whether or not an idea has merit."

Not an idea, a voice. There is a difference, which can on occasion get lost in academia, the latter being more difficult from which to abstract than the former. This being an academic, as well as a law, blog, voices from outside of academia can provide a useful counterpoint.
7.1.2009 11:41pm
Richard A. (mail):
I'm sorry, but anyone who believes there is such a thing as leftist fascism had missed the entire history of the 20th century - sort of like Jonah Goldberg. As I noted, in Central America in the 198os the lines were clearly drawn. The fact that you norteamericanos can't see them shows why Americans should not meddle in other countries' affairs.

You keep saying "fascist" as if it were a bad thing.
7.1.2009 11:47pm
Sarcastro (www):
Aaand Goldberg's little meme hijacks another thread!

Amazing!
7.2.2009 12:05am
c.gray (mail):

But he just jumped on the international community party line about Honduras, without even considering whether its government acted correctly in removing a president undertaking an illegal constitutional modification.


I'm generally sympathetic to those hostile to Zelaya. And the military officers who organized his removal seem to be sincerely motivated by a desire to uphold Honduras' constitution and democratic institutions, not to overthrow them.

But "the international community party line" seems to amount to the proposition that direct military intervention in the domestic politics of a democracy is fundamentally illegitimate, without exception. That's the standard to which every one of the major democracies holds its own military. And almost every Latin American nation has experienced the very negative consequences of a highly politicized military, many very recently. A lot more is at stake from the point of view of a civilian politician in Brazil or a union rep in El Salvador than the issue of whether Zelaya is good or bad for Honduras.
7.2.2009 12:20am
Mark Buehner (mail):

But "the international community party line" seems to amount to the proposition that direct military intervention in the domestic politics of a democracy is fundamentally illegitimate, without exception.

Which is absurd on its face. This basically leaves a recalcitrant tyrant to his own devices under any circumstances if he isn't goodly enough to accept a letter from Parliament asking nicely to vacate the palace. The military swears to defend a constitution, not a man, and certainly not international sensibilities.

For every military coup i'll raise you 10 presidentes that simply never leave office. Here's a wild idea- how about holding nations to this standard- following their laws. That would seem to satisfy lots of sensibilities, at least in a rationale world. Honduras apparently followed their constitution to a T. Perhaps it wasn't perfectly written (name one) and that has caused unfortunate problems, but it was the law and it was executed, apparently to prevent the constitution itself from imminent peril. If the means required to prevent that didn't live up to the sensibilities of the Chavez's and Castro's... hell, I can't believe I need to even finish that thought.
7.2.2009 12:45am
Sarcastro (www):

imminent peril

That's what I call the President calling an unconstitutional referendum! We were totally this close to "goodbye sweet Honduras!"

I also totally agree that more coups is more better. The government should fear it's people military!
7.2.2009 12:53am
Say, Castro (mail):
Leftists trying to take over government, by abolishing/extending term limits, universally leads to democratic results! No one should fear them. See Castro! See Chavez! See Stalin!

That other guy gets is totally wrong. Zelaya is the government! Zelaya is the People!
7.2.2009 1:04am
Sarcastro (www):
The important thing is you either have a coup or President for life. There is no middle ground.
7.2.2009 1:11am
Say, Castro (mail):
People have got to know whether or not "Say, Castro" is a troll.


Well, I am not a troll.

I have earned my right to make unfunny conversation and other vacuous points of substance.
7.2.2009 1:16am
Tony Tutins (mail):

Explaining why your adversaries’ positions unintentionally help fascists is eminently legitimate. But expressly acknowledging that this effect is likely unintentional is both fairer and more likely to persuade the other side, as well as the undecided.

Open US support of the rebels in Iran might have been the kiss of death for the rebellion, because it could have been stigmatized and dismissed as a secret CIA op. Thus for "the Great Satan" to publicly support the rebels would unintentionally have helped fascists.
7.2.2009 1:44am
The Unbeliever:
But "the international community party line" seems to amount to the proposition that direct military intervention in the domestic politics of a democracy is fundamentally illegitimate, without exception.
Then I will put on my political science major's hat and arrogantly suggest said community is a useless gang of idiots. It may be unfortunate that a military is needed to intervene in the domestic affairs of a democracy, but that hardly makes such actions illegitimate. Cf putting down the Whiskey Insurrection (contrasted by the earlier Shay's Rebellion which contributed to the demise of the Articles of Confederation), the American Civil War, the use of the US Army to restore order in hurricane disaster areas, etc.

Bottom line, you need to look at the legal frameworks permitting domestic military actions; you can't just see the word "military" and scream ILLEGITIMATE! at the nearest uniform. Yet this is exactly what Obama and the rest of the world seems to have done.
And almost every Latin American nation has experienced the very negative consequences of a highly politicized military, many very recently.
Just so. The region has a well known history of coups and strongmen dictators.

Ironically, it is precisely the latter threat which the Honduran constitution is apparently set up to prevent. The linking of military command to the decentralized/democractic governmental institutions, instead of directly to the president (like in the US), is a safeguard against improper use of the military to affect political rule. What makes you think that the writers of the Honduran constitution, who were even more aware of the region's history, failed to take the threat of unlawful military action into account when they set up the provisions that allowed Zelaya to be kicked out?
7.2.2009 3:08am
Desiderius:
Sarcastro,

"Aaand Goldberg's little meme hijacks another thread!"

My take is a pretty radical recasting of Goldberg's meme, which you would know if you'd, you know, read the book, as the writer of the post on which this thread is based obviously has. His take too contains echoes of that meme, sans radical recasting.

So, sorry, Goldberg's meme is neither little nor hijacking in this case, though I guess it's difficult to get that while one sings "La,la,la!" with one's fingers in one's ears.
7.2.2009 7:50am
Desiderius:
Anon1111,

"Of course the interesting question involves stated goals vs. actual outcomes."

And there's the problem with the statist vs. individualism breakdown. It's too easy for the powers that be to get their statist, static cake and eat their concern for the people popularity too, as rising generations in their formative years are very much concerned with the social over the individual, particularly in their moral development.

Likewise the state has a crucial role to play in a liberal order, and must play that role energetically for that order to thrive, so those advocating just "less government" will always be too open to charges of softness on corruption, and rightly so.

Of course, focusing government on its core competencies and relieving it of duties best discharged in the Civic Sector would also turn the attention of the corrupt elsewhere as the amount of available swag is thereby decreased. The task of doing so seems an ideal one for a Third Millennium Liberal Left.

Better a Left/Right divide where Liberalism is clearly on the Left and Statism on the Right so that those seeking to centralize power to more easily dominate/preserve the status quo will naturally be opposed by rising generations whose job has always been, and been understood to be, the production of change.
7.2.2009 8:10am
RPT (mail):
Given today's developments in Honduras, Jonah Goldberg would feel right at home.
7.2.2009 9:03am
cboldt (mail):
-- you can't just see the word "military" and scream ILLEGITIMATE! at the nearest uniform. Yet this is exactly what Obama and the rest of the world seems to have done. --
.
Not a coup: a message from Honduras :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Michael Sneed
However, the Sue Hendrickson I've known since 1997 has been a one-woman dispenser of help and money for destitute Hondurans. She has helped educate many Honduran children, has helped rebuild a Honduran village devastated by a hurricane and has flown Hondurans -- at her own expense -- to the Mayo clinic.
Thus, I thought it might be worth noting Sue's urgent note dispatched to her friends this week ... [snip]

Watch which narrative is adopted by the general public. I think the "official" position (the ousting was an illegitimate coup) will obtain more adherents. "The big lie" works, especially when ALL of the official organs sing the same tune. UN, OAS, US, EU governments, etc. Those who accept Sue Hendrickson's narrative will be a distinct minority.
7.2.2009 9:46am
Desiderius:
RPT,

"Given today's developments in Honduras, Jonah Goldberg would feel right at home."

So much ignorance packed into one sentence. You've outdone yourself, RPT!
7.2.2009 10:02am
cboldt (mail):
US condemns Niger third term bid (BBC - July 2, 2009)
The US says Niger's President Mamadou Tandja has undermined a decade of good government in his attempts to stay in power beyond the legal limit.
The White House says it is concerned at the actions of the president ...
The president, who has ruled the country for 10 years, is due to step down in December.
But he has scheduled a referendum for 4 August on changing the constitution to let him seek a third term in office.
The Constitutional Court ruled three times that the referendum was illegal without the support of parliament.

Well, at least the US actions toward Niger and Honduras are perfectly consistent (in that the US is taking the same side as other observer nations).
7.2.2009 10:03am
DerHahn (mail):
cboldt - our foreign policy is being determined by the guy picked most likely to vote 'present'. No surprise that we're following the crowd.
7.2.2009 10:21am
wooga:
Open US support of the rebels in Iran might have been the kiss of death for the rebellion, because it could have been stigmatized and dismissed as a secret CIA op. Thus for "the Great Satan" to publicly support the rebels would unintentionally have helped fascists.


That's the line usually taken by people so deep in the political class that they've lost touch with the common man (and no, I'm not saying that applies to you - just the talking heads on the TV who declare the idea as unquestionably true). The man on the street in Tehran may love to talk about conspiracies, but ultimately bases his actions on whether he thinks standing up to the mullahs will get him and his family killed/maimed/imprisoned. He actually likes America.

Had Obama actually voiced real support for the protestors, (#1) the mullahs would say Mousavi was a CIA plant... just like they are saying now anyway, and (#2) the protestors would have been encouraged and emboldened. That's beyond dispute. The dispute is simply whether Obama's support, by providing evidence for the #1 claims, would have been more harmful than the benefit of #2.

Regardless, Obama's stance on Honduras and Iran is totally consistent. He is a statist, and sided with the statist group in both situations. The "F" word is also a statist ideology (albeit with a bunch of other 'colorful' attributes), so you could say that Obama is "subjectively pro-statist" rather than the nastier "objectively pro-fascist" smear.
7.2.2009 10:25am
RPT (mail):
RPT,

"Given today's developments in Honduras, Jonah Goldberg would feel right at home."

So much ignorance packed into one sentence. You've outdone yourself, RPT!"

Thank you. Goldberg is a fine testimony for legacy-style affirmative action.

By the way, what is your position on the Congress' decisions, and the basis for the "ignorance" comment?
7.2.2009 11:57am
Desiderius:
RPT,

Your statement is akin to Fred Phelps claiming that Randy R. would feel right at home in the big city.

So wrong that you managed to be right.
7.2.2009 1:26pm
Angus:
The man on the street in Tehran may love to talk about conspiracies, but ultimately bases his actions on whether he thinks standing up to the mullahs will get him and his family killed/maimed/imprisoned. He actually likes America.

This is from your extensive experience in studying Iranian public opinion? Anecdotal, but I had a Iranian friend attending college in the U.S. recently say that Iranians under about 25 are much more pro-west, but Iranians older than that are near 100% in their hatred of the United States. They'd been fed bullcrap on tv and in newspapers for so long, and many older folks don't have the knowledge or desire to go online and find out more information.

My opinion (and it is just that) is that Obama openly siding with the protesters off the bat would have turned almost all sympathetic older Iranians decisively against the protesters.
7.2.2009 1:26pm
RPT (mail):
Desiderius:

You keep forgetting to add some substance to your comments. Speaking ex cathedra won't work here.

The point is that neither Goldberg nor anyone gets to make up their own ideological categories or taxonomies for propaganda purposes. There is a substantial body of political theory from the Straussians to the Marxists with generally acknowledged terminologies for left-collectivist to right-individualist, with varieties of authoritianisms across the board. What the Goldbergs-Beck-Kristol-Dennis Pragers-etc do is to use "left" to mean "whatever we don't like", without any intellectual basis. It's all name calling, like: "Obama is a commie-fascist-islamist". Name calling might be fun within the tribe, but let's not pretend that it's anything past sixth grade level diatribe.

And, just to show that the world is still right, John Bolton is out advocating a widespread bombing attack on the Iranians, without regard to the fact that most of the casualties would be protestors. Never met a war he didn't like, so long as someone else pays the price (just like Rumsfeld, as his biographer now explains: "don't cut the budget until I divest").
7.2.2009 1:48pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
I read Bolton. He does not seem to be advocating bombing Iranian demonstrators, or widespread bombing of Iran. And he is not linking his call for bombing, which is old, to this week's events.

If you think, as he does and I do, that Iranians with nuclear weapons are a bad combination, then bombing would have to be among the options. Just in case sweet words don't work.

He does say what nobody else on this thread, if I recall all the posts, wants said, which is that Ahmadinejad might really be the peoples' choice. I would think so.

Streets full of college students do not necessarily reflect the popular will. I am old enough to remember when American streets were full of college students, but Nixon won anyway, and nobody claimed he had to steal the election from McGovern.
7.2.2009 5:38pm
Desiderius:
RPT,

"Speaking ex cathedra"

Ha! Good one. You and yours have controlled my cathedrals all my life, and run my church into the ground. There are some signs of recovery, principally involving leaving the old leftist bromides on the ash-heap of history where they belong.

Sec. Clinton's olde tymey liberation theology revival is going over like the lead balloon it is. Can anyone discern from the placards whether that Reuters caption is accurate?

Then again, maybe the administration actually supports the rule of law, and acting on the theory put forward in the Iranian situation, is supporting Zelaya in order to undermine his credibility.
7.2.2009 5:39pm
Desiderius:
Eagar,

Great point on Ahmadinejad. I've heard such conflicting accounts on that one. Regardless, a more liberal Iran is likely to be more successful in its pursuit of nuclear weapons, so the two questions don't necessarily overlap that much.
7.2.2009 5:43pm
RPT (mail):
Re Bolton, no advocates bombing civilians, they are just inevitable collateral damage, as the continuing Pakistan campaign demonstrates.

Re the cathedral, you should never assume. I spent 12 years in Catholic school, the last four in an all boys Holy Cross Brothers high school. Good memories, but we sure knew who was in control, and it wasn't us. I like Garry Wills' history. I live in the Protestant charismatic world now, with several probably surprising clients. The undefined "left" isn't in charge in either realm.
7.2.2009 6:34pm
Desiderius:
RPT,

"I live in the Protestant charismatic world now, with several probably surprising clients. The undefined "left" isn't in charge in either realm."

We (mainline protestantism) lost a generation (at least) to you. It wasn't your outdated leftism that did it, I can assure you, it was our own.
7.2.2009 6:45pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
ruufles:

Hmm, let's see. Being frosty but still collegial, vs invading the f'ing country for no reason? Hmm.


That was Operation Just 'Cause, right?
7.2.2009 9:17pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Also a perspective on Honduras, from watching LatAm....

First, military coups in Latin America are still not unheard of in the last decade, but they show a different dynamic than the coups that occurred in the cold war. A good case is that of Ecuador's last coup (in 2000 or 2001, I don't recall which year) which lasted a few days before the VP was restored to the office of President.

In the Cold War, the coups tended to be the result of external interference. Nowadays they occur from deep internal tensions. In Ecuador's case, the decision to ditch their currency in favor of the dollar was the cause. The coup lasted for a few days, and then the junta returned power to the old administration. Dollarization has actually been a huge success in Ecuador despite the fact that nearly a decade later it is still controversial.

I would be surprised if Zalaya is returned to power, but I would expect this to be resolved by giving the office to his VP. Since Zalaya was popularly elected, I think Congress is playing a dangerous game here and we may see the sort of problems that developed in Ecuador pre-Correa regarding political stability until there is a fundamental necessity to change the Constitution. (Pre-Correa, Ecuador had 8 Presidents in 10 years. Correa convinced opposition parties in Congress to back his Constitutional assembly on that basis.) The reason here is that Zalaya really has stepped over the line but that is no basis to depose the whole administration.

One might not like his policies, or those of Ahmedinejad, but both leaders DO represent the popular choices of the people and respecting democratic processes does require respecting those results. Otherwise we will do nothing but miss opportunities and squander soft power.
7.2.2009 9:33pm
Careless:

One might not like his policies, or those of Ahmedinejad, but both leaders DO represent the popular choices of the people and respecting democratic processes does require respecting those results.

Wait, what?
7.2.2009 11:23pm
Psalm91 (mail):
"D:

We (mainline protestantism) lost a generation (at least) to you. It wasn't your outdated leftism that did it, I can assure you, it was our own."

I don't understand what you mean here. The Vineyard movement, Foursquare and AOG denominations are certainly not into "leftism" however you define it, nor am I. Just because I don't worship the idolatrous concept of "free markets"....whatever they are.
7.2.2009 11:44pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Agreed that -- though very hard to imagine -- a genuine Iranian democracy would have an easier time developing A-bombs, but a genuine democracy might not wish to do so.

A genuine democracy might, you know, address the material concerns of the people.

Don't quite follow how this thread veered off into Catholicism, but I bet I spent more years in Catholic school than either of you. The nuns tried to make into a New Dealer at first, and succeeded; and later into a McCarthyite, which I didn't swallow.

Iranians, I conceive, might be similarly confused about their religion.
7.3.2009 12:50am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Harry Eager:

Agreed that -- though very hard to imagine -- a genuine Iranian democracy would have an easier time developing A-bombs, but a genuine democracy might not wish to do so.


Nuclear energy programs, with at least the potential for weapons development, have been a constant in Iranian politics since the time of the Shah. Is there ANY indication that this would radically change with a move to democracy any more than it changed with the shift to the (more democratic) Islamic Republic state?
7.3.2009 1:52am
rosetta's stones:
Nuke energy? Yes, Iran would be going for that no matter who's running the show, I'd think.

Nuke weapons, with facilities for 20,000 or more centrifuges and all associated equipment, to highly enrich uranium? Not so sure they'd be making that push and enduring that expense, and giving up international legitimacy by violating international agreements, if they were democratic. That's a mullah thing, I suspect.

South Africa gave up their nuke program when they went democratic. Brazil and Argentina don't appear to be pursuing (strongly). Fair to say that autocracies are the ones pushing those nuke weapons programs hard, these days.
7.3.2009 8:29am
Desiderius:
rosey,

"That's a mullah thing, I suspect."

More likely a Persia thing. A past so long and proud does not easily admit humbler futures, nor perhaps should it.

Eagar, RPT, Richard A.,

What I'm saying is that Marxist (with a smiley face!) Liberation Theology was highly influential in the Mainline Protestant churches (and even more so in Latin America) among the rising generation of which our Secretary of State is perhaps the foremost member and thus effectively serves to blind her and her cohort to the rank illiberalism of Chavez and his would-be followers.

On a side note, it's popularity (and the popularity of related Marxist doctrine) among mainline clergy drove millions from our pews and into the waiting arms of the likes of RPT/Psalm91 or to post-Christianity proper, for those with a more rationalist bent. C'est la vie.

And, yes, Marxist doctrine did play a prominent role in defining 1980's battle lines, but, though it has somehow escaped the notice of our keen-eyed Progressive friends, these are no longer the 1980's. The old Marx mare just ain't what she used to be, despite the heroic efforts of our Cuban auto mechanics laboring away in the hallowed halls of academedia.
7.3.2009 10:38am
Desiderius:
RPT,

"Just because I don't worship the idolatrous concept of 'free markets'"

Keep spewing that noise and you'll lose them too.
7.3.2009 10:39am
Harry Eagar (mail):
'more democratic Islamic Republic state'

We do not agree about how democratic these regimes were/are then.

Desiderius, of course liberation theology was more popular than the alternative, considering what the alternative was.

A long time ago, I used to march with SCLC. I heard the stories about how King was chummy with Commies. Ya know what? I lived with the people he was against, and I preferred American Commies to them, too.
7.3.2009 1:12pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Harry Eager:

The Shah had very little democratic accountability. Even Khamenei is accountable to a democratically elected body (the "Assembly of Experts").

Also I think it is fair to say that Iran is more democratic today than it was under either the Shah or Khomeni-- that Khomeni had an image that protected him from public scrutiny whie Khamenei does not (Khamenei is primarily a politician first, and a fairly deft one, but having him as Supreme Leader is a bit like promoting a bishop directly to the role of Pope-- there is no question that he did not fill the qualifications of the office aside from political skills and was appointed because the Assembly wanted a more accountable leader).
7.3.2009 1:22pm
Desiderius:
Eagar,

"A long time ago, I used to march with SCLC. I heard the stories about how King was chummy with Commies. Ya know what? I lived with the people he was against, and I preferred American Commies to them, too."

Yep, me too (at least I've known, and loved, many of the marchers, so share their sympathies to a large extent).

But its not a long time ago any more.
7.3.2009 3:11pm
Mark Buehner (mail):

The Shah had very little democratic accountability. Even Khamenei is accountable to a democratically elected body (the "Assembly of Experts").


Well... the government provides the list of pre-approved candidates, which pretty much turns democracy on its head. If you had to choose between Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson would you consider that democracy?

Furthermore its an open question whether the assembly of experts holds any real power to unseat Khamenei in reality, considering the great leaders control of the revolutionary guards.
7.3.2009 4:41pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Mark Beuhler:

Well... the government provides the list of pre-approved candidates, which pretty much turns democracy on its head. If you had to choose between Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson would you consider that democracy?


This is more true of the Parliament and the Presidency than of the Assembly of Experts. And I would note that Reformists have been gaining steady ground there.

The AoE is largely responsible for appointing members of the Council of Guardians and the Supreme Leader. The can also recall these positions if necessary.

On a scale of democracy, none of these are very democratic, but there is a slow progression towards democracy. While the Parliamentary and Presidential elections have been tightly controlled, there has been a lot more leeway in the Assembly of Experts elections, which is good.

Note that the Assembly of Experts is a fairly minor organization, but it is able to dismiss the Supreme Leader and appoint a new one, so it suggests that there IS a respect for democratic processes even among the Council of Guardians and it also suggests that a lot of the tight control over elections in the other areas has a lot to do with operational considerations between government branches. Although the AoE is fairly deferential, I think the key issue here is that steady reformist gains in this body place pressure on Khamenei and also strongly affect likely replacements.

The Iranian system of government is based on ideals of leadership and justice. However, we are seeing a "decay" (as Plato would have thought) from the idea of an ideally just state lead by the most-wise jurist (Khomeni's vision) to a more democratically sensitive state and I would expect that under the next Supreme Leader, we will see strong and striking democratic reforms. That may take a while, however.
7.4.2009 4:46pm
ReaderY:
There are numerous modern variants of this claim, for example that if one opposes abortion one is objectively anti-women, if one is religious one is objectively anti-reason, etc.

There's a big difference between saing that one thinks ones way is the best way or the correct way, and saying that people who choose a different way are objectively evil or (the one I most cringe at) objectively intolerant.
7.6.2009 1:29am

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