War Times on the coup in Honduras and the Obama Administration
But the battle of ideas is not fought only "in general." It pivots around specific policies and issues. And these, besides shaping and reshaping opinion, have outcomes which are crucial in and of themselves.
Right now, three such pivotal battles stand out.
The first concerns the coup in Honduras. Much is at stake not just for that country, but for all Latin America. The entire region is moving leftward, it is the center of gravity of the most diverse and dynamic grassroots-driven radical efforts in the world today. Right wingers and oligarchs - and their backers in Washington - have been on the defensive and trying to figure out a way to reverse the tide. Economic levers for many do not seem to be enough; they want to return to the days of naked military force. The stakes in Honduras thus go even beyond the fate of the Honduran people. If the coup stands, the reactionaries will be emboldened and - as movements and governments throughout Latin America are saying - the question will be where military coup-makers strike next. If on the other hand the coup is reversed, popular movements will be strengthened and the progressive wave will gain even more momentum.
As of this writing the outcome is in doubt. A great deal depends on what pressures can be mounted here in the U.S. So far the Obama administration has played a mixed but principally negative role, and there are signs of division in the highest echelons of D.C. Evidence is overwhelming that the golpistas had the blessing of U.S. operatives carried over from the Bush years (for example, Ambassador to Honduras Hugo Llorens, who was Bush's top Venezuela advisor at the time of the failed 2002 coup). Obama at first denounced the coup, but since then Washington has orchestrated talks in a way that treats the coup-makers as legitimate leaders and supports anti-democratic conditions on any prospective return of ousted President Manuel Zelaya. Washington has refused to cut off military aid to the generals or take other steps that would make it all but impossible for the coup to stand. The right (aided by power-brokers close to Hillary Clinton) have been engaged in an all-out media campaign to legitimize the coup. Counter-pressure from our side is an urgent priority with so much at stake for Honduras, for Latin America, and for the coming years' posture of the Obama administration.