Viewed from a distance, the streets of Honduras look, smell and sound like those of Iran: expressions of popular anger - burning vehicles, large marches and calls for justice in a non-English language - aimed at a constitutional violation of the people's will (the coup took place on the eve of a poll of voters asking if the President's term should be extended); protests repressed by a small, but powerful elite backed by military force; those holding power trying to cut off communications in and out of the country.
These and other similarities between the political situation in Iran and the situation in Honduras, where military and economic and political elites ousted democratically-elected President Manuel Zelaya in a military coup condemned around the world, are obvious.
Meanwhile, conservatives have called the coup totally legal and necessary. They have taken defending most of the actions of the new government. The fact is this. Military stormed the quarters of the leader of the nation and arrested him at gun point in the early morning. To not see that this is wrong is to be willfully blind. Furthermore, these same folks are now cutting off television signals, detaining journalists, and imposing martial law. These are not necessarily nice folks.
Of course, Maneul Zelaya is far from a good guy himself. This all started when attempted to move forward with an election the Supreme Court had ruled illegal. He has alligned himself with Hugo Chavez and he was clearly on the road to a leftist dictatorship.
So, what does President Obama do? He had three options. The first was to declare this an internal issue and distance himself. This was a long term untennable stance. At some point, he would either have to recognize the new government, and inherently support the coup, or to cut diplomatic ties, and inherently make it illegal. The other two options were to support the coup or Zelaya.
Obama, of course, chose the third option. The first problem with Obama's decision is that he made an absolute moral stance. This situation has no absolute morals. In Obama's view, coups are inherently evil and thus, we must oppose this coup. What about the rise of leftist dictators? Aren't those equally as evil?Why wouldn't we oppose the rise of another leftist dictator?
Furthermore, he has condemned the coup without condemning the actions of Zelaya that lead to the coup. If the coup is "illegal", how does President Obama view a leader that ignores the ruling of the highest judiciary?
The second problem is that he has alligned himself with someone that gives America no strategic value. In fact, all this does is strengthen the hand of our enemy, Hugo Chavez. In El Salvador, the U.S. wound up supporting the military government not because they were beacons of goodness, but because they were the enemy of our enemies, the leftists. We have the same situation here. The new government is not a beacon of goodness, but they are opposing a leftist alligned with Hugo Chavez. There are no good options, but ultimately, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. President Obama chose the wrong side.