01 July 2009

Honduras: Countdown to Showdown?

Ousted President Zelaya vows that he will return to Honduras tomorrow to reclaim his office as President, after promising before the United Nations yesterday that he would no longer seek either another term or the elimination of term limits from his country's constitution. International bodies have unanimously deemed Zelaya's ouster illegal while demanding his reinstatement. His strong sympathizers like President Chavez of Venezuela have gone so far as to demand that the UN intervene with military force against the Micheletti regime. Micheletti himself blusters that nothing short of an armed invasion will make him yield his place back to Zelaya, and that Zelaya will be arrested should he attempt to return. Here are more details.

A few days ago Crhymethinc raised the valid question of whether it was anyone's business outside Honduras how this crisis resolved itself. How we answer depends on our notion of national sovereignty. For some people, comparing the coup against Zelaya to a mugging in front of witnesses might be an appealing analogy. Other nations, one might assume, have just as much right to intervene in defense of a legitimate government as witnesses would to stop the mugging. Leaving aside for the moment the Micheletti claim that Zelaya was removed legally in a punitive action, you could still argue against intervention if you accept the idea that sovereignty is vested not in the government of the moment but in the nation itself. That would mean that the nation has a right to sort out its own affairs without outside interference, no matter what the world thinks of the outcome. Think of it as the ultimate expression of the right to privacy among nations. This idea might well appeal to many of the members of the United Nations if they recall their own revolutionary origins. If the international community has a right to intervene on behalf of governments, then they could invade any country that undergoes a revolution, like Cuba in 1959. I doubt that people like Chavez would endorse that idea. The fact is that his attitude is essentially partisan; he sees Zelaya as on his side and wants to protect him. Had it been Zelaya perpetrating a coup against Micheletti, Chavez would probably applaud the revolutionary result. He definitely wouldn't sign on to any doctrine denying nations the right of revolution. But the right of revolution contains the right of coup d'etat unless you have an ideologically strict definition of revolution itself. If a nation retains the right to have a revolution without interference, than it retains the same immunity from interference when a coup takes place. The world can deplore it and sanction the new regime as it pleases, but if each nation values its own sovereignty, all must draw a line limiting the extent to which they can interfere in each other's history. For that reason, I oppose the idea of military intervention against the Honduran coup on the pretense of international war. If some nut wants to just declare war on the country, however, -- that's another story.

Here are some of the latest exchanges on the La Gringa blog. Left and right are fighting it out online, and it's pretty fun to read.


Anonymous said...

The last and greatest example I can think of is the current American occupation of Iraq. We decided that Saddam was a "bad guy", so we removed him from power. The result has been 7 years of non-stop war, thousands of American casualties, tens of thousands of Iraqi casualities, deteriorating relationships with the Muslim world and billions of dollars wasted. The one very important lesson we should have learned from this is: It's none of our business.

hobbyfan said...

We got involved in Iraq because Georgie-Porgie felt he had unfinished business from his father's term, and no one who told him different could get him to listen.

When it comes to W and Iraq, I can't help but think of Elwood Blues' famous mission statement, "We're on a mission from God!". W took it to heart a wee bit too much.

Anonymous said...

The truth is, Cheney and his cadré of neo-cons were pushing for a war with Iraq before W was even the Republican nominee. If you can find it, read his document regarding the "New American Century", in which he states that we must take out Saddam before he uses the "oil weapon" against us.

Ask yourself why Haliburton (the corporation Cheney was once CEO of) and it's subsidiaries were so quickly and firmly entrenched in Iraq. Why they were considered the "only" corporation who could "do the job" (whatever that job was). Seems to me the Army Corp of Engineers and the Navy Construction Battalion (SeaBees) could have done all the work at a fraction of the cost.