Help me out here. President Obama immediately "meddles" in the affairs of Honduras, denouncing a military coup, the intent of which is to preserve the country's constitution, but when it comes to Iran's fraudulent election and the violent repression of demonstrators who wanted their votes counted, the president initially vacillates and equivocates.
Are we expected to accept this as a consistent foreign policy? Even Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was reluctant to call the removal of President Manuel Zelaya a coup, if for no other reason than it would stop U.S. aid flowing to the impoverished Central American nation.
The fingerprints (or in this case the boot prints) of the Castro brothers, Venezuela's dictator Hugo Chavez and Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua are all over this. If one is known by the company one keeps, the specter of the Castros and their protege dictators joining Mr. Obama in denouncing the Honduran military coup is not reassuring.
Clearly Mr. Zelaya was the choice of the dictators to help spread "revolution" to America's back door. The coup is a setback for them, although perhaps temporary, depending on how much pressure "world opinion," which can be as fickle as some politicians' marriage vows, can assert.
One of the flaws in U.S. policy in this and in the Bush administration has been our commitment to elections as an end and not a means. Elections can put scoundrels in power and the election that elevates them is often the last one a country sees until the miscreants are overthrown. That has been true of Hamas in the Palestinian legislative elections of 2006, Germany under Adolf Hitler, as well as Mr. Ortega and Mr. Chavez in their countries, among others.
The United States should be supporting electoral processes that put people in office who are committed to the rule of law and representative government.
The threat by Mr. Chavez to send his troops into Honduras should be another signal to the Obama administration that thugs can't be made nice by talking to them. So far, the world's tyrants have been unresponsive to Mr. Obama's offer of a new start and a pushing of the "reset" button, which Mrs. Clinton famously offered Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. The word on the device she gave Mr. Lavrov was meant to say "reset" in Russian; instead, roughly translated, the word meant "overcharge." Overly optimistic might be a better word to describe this nascent administration's approach to bad guys. They are getting the message, but it's a different one than Mr. Obama hoped to send. The message is that Mr. Obama is weak and can be had.
It is one thing for a president to be liked, but in a dangerous world with dictators who have, or wish to acquire, nuclear weapons and by these and other means destroy the United States, it is better that an American president be feared.
Does this administration have a Plan B for dealing with thugs and dictators should their rules of social and diplomatic etiquette fail to produce their announced objectives? Suppose Kim Jong-il follows through on his threat to launch a missile at Hawaii on July Fourth? If he does and America shoots it down, what happens then? If missile defense fails (the administration and Congress are cutting the budget for a missile shield) and the missile hits Hawaii and kills a lot of people, what then?