THE BLOG

Obama's Magical Surrealism in Honduras

"I've heard many in this room say that they will not recognize the elections in Honduras. I'm not trying to be a wiseguy, but what does that mean? What does that mean in the real world, not in the world of magical realism?"
- W. Lewis Amselem, Obama administration's representative to the Organization of American States

W-w-w-w-hat?!?! An American diplomat actually said that?!? In a meeting of the Organization of American States? Who is president now? Didn't Ronald Reagan die?

A little context: this was said at the OAS during a discussion of upcoming elections in Honduras. All the Latin American countries were announcing that they will not recognize the elections as valid because the current government, the one that will organize the elections, came to power through a military coup. The United States was isolated as the only government in the Americas ready to recognize the election. And Obama's representative decided that might be a good time to ridicule all the Latin American democracies for thinking that their refusal to recognize a government which come to power through military coups mattered.

Well gee, Mr. Amselem, why would it matter whether elections are recognized by the international community? As I recall, there were just elections in Iran and Afghanistan. What does it really matter whether other countries in the region recognize the regime of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which is widely believed to have won the elections through massive electoral fraud? Does it matter who does and doesn't recognize the elections of the American-backed regime in Afghanistan, which was accused of electoral fraud on a similar scale? How about Zimbabwe, which has been teetering on the edge of catastrophe since similarly questionable elections? What exactly was your point, Mr. Amselem? Was it that democracy doesn't mean anything? Or was it that it doesn't matter what Latin American governments do? Or was it that small countries that have neither oil, nukes or terrorists don't matter? We could use a little clarification here.

Just what in the heck is going on in the Obama-Clinton State Department? As the New York Times reported today, the Obama administration's announcement of its policy regarding the upcoming Honduran elections "was celebrated by Republicans as a "reversal" of the administration's policy [and] ignited a storm of criticism from Mr. Obama's allies at home and across Latin America." Just like Hillary's reversal on the administration's position concerning Jewish settlements in Palestinian territories is being celebrated by the Israeli right wing and may trigger the collapse of the Palestinian Authority.

Mr. President, you have some very urgent work to do. First, you need to demand W. Lewis Amselem's head on a pike, now. Just to show that you are at least paying attention.

Beyond that, it is going to be tough. You have dithered on the Honduras coup for half a year, and the elections are just weeks away. Here's an idea: start over. Announce that you are very sorry, but as a way of preparing your State Department for work in Latin America, you asked your diplomatic corps to take some time off to immerse themselves in magical realist literature, and they became so engrossed they simply lost track of time. No one noticed that a year had gone by since your election. But now everyone is ready to put down their novels and return to the real world, in which no one would ever imagine that a government led by Barack Obama would stand as the only government in the western hemisphere supporting coups in Latin America.