By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Left, right and center

In my latest for the Guardian, I round up day-after commentary on President Obama’s speech about the war in Afghanistan. And I find that no one — not his liberal base, not those farther out on the left and certainly not conservatives — is entirely happy with his decision.

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  1. Dunque

    Dan – The change in power in Honduras was not a coup. It was, in fact, a defense of the Honduran Constitution. Please stop repeating what is a terrible lie.

    • Dan Kennedy

      Dunque: You’re really too much. Here’s a description of what happened, published in the New York Times on June 28:

      “President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras was ousted by the army on Sunday, capping months of tensions over his efforts to lift presidential term limits.

      “In the first military [C-word] in Central America since the end of the cold war, soldiers stormed the presidential palace in the capital, Tegucigalpa, early in the morning, disarming the presidential guard, waking Mr. Zelaya and putting him on a plane to Costa Rica.”

      Here’s how the American Heritage Dictionary defines “coup d’etat”: “The sudden overthrow of a government by a usually small group of persons in or previously in positions of authority.”

      What took place in Honduras was a coup. I leave it to others to decide whether it was a good coup or a bad coup.

  2. BillH

    Although I’m disappointed with the decision, I have confidence that it was made thoughtfully and included full discussion with advocates of all sides. I’m sure that intelligence wasn’t “cherry picked” to suit a domestic political purpose. But it’s still disappointing.

  3. Newshound

    Perhaps President Obama is just as unhappy about it as the rest of us.

    Maybe if we knew what he knows, we, too, with the greatest regret, would make the same decision. Many on the left may have been as spooked as Cheney if we had received the same top secret briefing.

  4. Dunque

    Now we at least see what your misunderstanding is, Dan. Although I thought you knew better than to single source your stories.

    When Zelaya sought to re-write the Honduran constitution to insure his continuance in power he violated the Honduran constitution. The country’s Supreme Court agreed.

    Zelaya sought to fire the military and legal officials who agreed w/him.

    In fact, the mere request to alter the Constitution by Zelaya was enough to trigger his removal under that Constitution. I am told it is Article 239 of that document if it helps you.

    You wouldn’t call impeachment and a subsequent Presidential trial a coup because they are embedded in the Constitution.

    This process was embedded in the Honduran constitution. Only Zelaya’s insistence on defying it ultimately required his military removal.

    And, by the way, contested elections were held last week in which the opposition party won.

    The U.S. State Department has now reversed its initial course and has approved of the elections. Hugo Chavez has not.

    • Dan Kennedy

      So it was a good coup, in your view. Even a constitutional coup. AHD does not make value judgments in defining “coup.”

  5. Dunque

    Dan – You must be kidding. You are defending an absurd position.

    The common understanding (and modern definition – at the link you provided) is this – “a sudden and decisive action in politics, esp. one resulting in a change of government illegally or by force.”

    There was no illegality here. There was force but only that triggered by the constitutionally-based processes.

    You are invoking a loaded term historically and incorrectly conflating a constitutionally based process with reprobates such as Pinochet, Somoza and Duarte.

    I am not making value judgements. I am pointing out to you that by any objective measure this was not a coup.

    • Dan Kennedy

      Dunque: I don’t have time for this, but you are being ridiculous. Here are some headlines, all from news sources you may be in sympathy with:

      – “Coup Rocks Honduras” — Wall Street Journal, June 29

      – “Honduras Hopes to Move Past Coup with Election” —, Nov. 30

      – “U.S., Venezuela Condemn Honduran Coup” — Washington Times, June 29

      And those are just conservative sources. Enter “honduras coup d’etat” in Google News and you get 1,300 results.

      I assume you have complained to all of them as well as to me. If not, well, get started.

  6. Local Editor

    (Why am I getting into this?)

    Looking at what information is available online, it’s quite possible that Manuel Zelaya’s actions, in seeking to hold a referendum regarding presidential term limits, were illegal.
    Dunque’s cluelessness rises from the fact that Zelaya wasn’t arrested or impeached. The army just threw him on a plane.
    Sounds like a coup to me.

  7. Dan Kennedy

    OK, old story at this point. But I just thought I’d point out that Marty Peretz has a blog post at The New Republic taking exactly the same position as @Dunque — Zalaya was trashing the constitution, the military did the right thing by removing him, etc., etc.

    And Peretz also writes this: “From the start, the Obama administration condemned the coup.”

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