Thursday, July 02, 2009

The mind boggles

Despite my deep-seated skepticism and cynicism regarding the international law apparatus and its ability and willingness to protect human rights and improve the lot of the world's downtrodden, I am simply amazed at the double standard that the world's governments and international organisations are applying to two current crises: the uprising in Iran and the removal of Honduran president Mel Zelaya. Obviously I am most disappointed in the attitude of the Western democracies (and their supposedly impartial media organisations), because after all what can one expect of the tinpot dictators who hold court at the UN General Assembly.
In the case of the popular uprising in Iran which followed the sham presidential election, the caution with which the West, particularly the pitifully Carteresque US administration, reacted was truly emabrassing. Of course (despite my ongoing support for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan) I am not saying that the West should have threatened immediate military action. However there are plenty of policies that fall short of breaching a country's sovereignty and at the same time could effectively defang one of the more despicable regimes we have to contend with nowadays. Instead the US has only been able to muster this:
Protesters take to the streets in Iran in opposition to election fraud, and against a regime which is openly hostile to the U.S., and Obama treads with the greatest of care. First silence, then mixed messages assuring the regime we want to negotiate with it regardless of election fraud. Only after almost two weeks are there strong statements against regime violence.
It is heartbreaking to say so, but one had hoped that after all that has happened the Western pundits who have been endlessly going on about the "demonisation" of Iran by the ghastly Bush regime and who have gone on for years insisting that Iran is really quite a progressive democracy, would have finally come to their senses (and maybe felt a bit shamefull and penitent. Instead we have the blind leading the blind.
Meanwhile there has been a constitutional crisis in Honduras.
That Mr. Zelaya acted as if he were above the law, there is no doubt. While Honduran law allows for a constitutional rewrite, the power to open that door does not lie with the president. A constituent assembly can only be called through a national referendum approved by its Congress.
But Mr. Zelaya declared the vote on his own and had Mr. Chávez ship him the necessary ballots from Venezuela. The Supreme Court ruled his referendum unconstitutional, and it instructed the military not to carry out the logistics of the vote as it normally would do.
The top military commander, Gen. Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, told the president that he would have to comply. Mr. Zelaya promptly fired him. The Supreme Court ordered him reinstated. Mr. Zelaya refused.
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.
This time, unlike with Iran, the international community reacted with fury, firmness and unity:
The United Nations General Assembly has approved a resolution calling for the reinstatement of ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya.
[...]
It was co-sponsored by a group of Latin American and Caribbean nations and was supported by the United States.
[...]
Our correspondent notes that even US President Barack Obama and his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez have found themselves in rare agreement over the issue - with both declaring that his expulsion was illegal.
A number of countries in the region have withdrawn ambassadors from Honduras.
[...]
Meanwhile, World Bank president Robert Zoellick said the institution had "put a pause" on its lending to Honduras.
Mr Zoellick said the bank was "working closely with the OAS and looking to the OAS to deal with its handling of the crisis under its democratic charter".
And the US particularly has been incredibly harsh and outspoken compared to their muted reaction in the Iranian case.
Have they all taken leave of their senses? If, for argument's sake, the Italian prime minister tried to push through some extra-constitutional referendum after being repeatedly told by the other branches of government that this was illegal and he was, as a consequence, stopped by the military which was following Supreme Court orders, nobody in their right mind would call that a coup. They would thank their lucky stars that a megalomaniac anti-democratic bully was prevented from perverting the democratic process. Why is this any different? And what is the Obama administration thinking?!

1 comment:

Nancy said...

I sometimes feel politics is all about double standards.
I liked your post!

Keep posting!

This is Nancy from Israeli Uncensored News