Fausta reports that Honduras has caved to Obama’s pressure and agreed to reinstate Chavez’s protege Zelaya in a power-sharing interim government. Apparently, Honduras got more than a taste of the Chicago Way, and it wasn’t very appetizing:
El Heraldo (in Spanish) makes it clear that US State Dept. envoy for Latin America Thomas Shannon went to Honduras to twist arms: his position was that the November 29 elections would not be recognized unless Zelaya was returned to power. I guess nothing ensures democracy like restoring to power the guy who did his outmost to undermine democracy, at least in Shannon’s eyes.
The bad news is that, when our President has finally shown some international cojones, it’s in the wrong venue and for the wrong reasons.
The good news is that Hondurans will be going to the polls in a month, and Zelaya won’t be running. Now that the US and the international community have decided to recognize the results, one can hope that the beleaguered Hondurans will finally be left alone to decide their own destiny according to their own very adequate constitution.
And then there’s Iran. Would that Obama could show just a bit of the courage there that he showed against the wrong people in Honduras. Robert Kagan wonders:
Tehran apparently will not accept the [previously arranged] deal but will propose an alternate plan, agreeing to ship smaller amounts of low-enriched uranium to Russia gradually over a year. Even if Iran carried out this plan as promised — every month would be an adventure to see how much, if anything, Iran shipped — the slow movement of small amounts of low-enriched uranium does not accomplish the original purpose, since Iran can quickly replace these amounts with new low-enriched uranium produced by its centrifuges. Iran’s nuclear clock, which the Obama administration hoped to stop or at least slow, would continue ticking at close to its regular speed.
Tehran is obviously probing to see whether President Obama can play hardball or whether he can be played. If Obama has any hope of getting anywhere with the mullahs, he needs to show them he means business, now, and immediately begin imposing new sanctions.
The test Obama faces in Iran is two-pronged, because it involves Russia as well. Kagan reminds us that Obama undercut the Czech and Polish governments when he reneged on the already-agreed-on missile defense there, but the justification at the time was that he’d won certain promises from the Russians that they would cooperate with sanctions on Iran if they became necessary:
Russia joined France, the United States and ElBaradei in agreeing to the proposal on Iran’s low-enriched uranium. Iran is now rejecting that proposal. If the administration’s engagement strategy is working, then Moscow should come through by joining in sanctions. If, on the other hand, Moscow declares that Iran’s counterproposal is satisfactory, or calls for further weeks or months of negotiations, then we will know that Russia, too, is playing Obama. Here again, Obama will have to show whether he is someone whom other powers have to take seriously, or if he is an easy mark in a geopolitical con game.
Somehow I can’t quite picture Obama making a strong move in this particular game of chess. But we should be finding out soon enough.
[NOTE: Fausta's post also contains many links on the Honduran situation, if you'd like to know more.]
[ADDENDUM: Of possible interest (hat tip: commenter "perfected Democrat").]