JFP News 9/3: US Formally Stops Aid to Coup Regime in Honduras

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September 3, 2009


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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) Secretary of State Clinton, responding to calls to increase pressure on the de facto Honduras government, announced the termination on Thursday of about $22 million in U.S. aid that was suspended immediately after President Zelaya was deposed, the New York Times reports. "Restoration of the terminated assistance will be predicated upon a return to democratic, constitutional governance in Honduras," said the State Department announcement. The announcement came after Clinton's meeting with Zelaya. The State Department announced it was revoking the visas of several people who had been identified as members or supporters of the coup government. Officials said that, as matters stand, the Obama administration would not recognize the upcoming Honduran presidential elections.

2) It's still not clear if the Obama administration is serious about dislodging the coup regime that it continues to support with military and economic aid, said Mark Weisbrot, in a CEPR press release. There is still quite a bit of money that is not food assistance or anything that poor people need that continues to flow to the dictatorship, said Weisbrot. Weisbrot also noted that the IMF decided just a few days ago to give Honduras more than $160 million. Since the U.S. has a veto over IMF decisions, this will be seen by the coup regime as a decision of the U.S. government.

3) As Obama prepares to decide whether to send additional troops to Afghanistan, he is relying increasingly on the Republican Party for support, the New York Times reports. It was the Republican National Committee, and not the Democrats, that was sounding more solidly behind the president on Afghanistan. After George Will's op-ed Tuesday calling for the withdrawal of troops, the Republican National Committee sent out an e-mail message and posted a statement, "Stand Strong, Mr. President," on its Web site to take issue with the conservative columnist. One danger for Obama is that he may be forced to abandon his own party on Afghanistan for the right, which could put him in a perilous position if Republicans at any point decide they do not want to support a Democratic president on the issue, the Times says. A CBS News poll released Tuesday reports that 41 percent of those polled wanted troop levels in Afghanistan decreased. Far fewer people - 25 percent - wanted troop levels increased.

4) Fifty-seven percent of Americans questioned in a CNN survey released Tuesday say they oppose the U.S. war in Afghanistan, CNN reports. The poll indicates that opposition to the war is coming mainly from Democrats and independents. Fifty-seven percent of independents and nearly three-quarters of Democrats oppose the war.

5) A large majority of Americans oppose sending more troops to Afghanistan, according to a new McClatchy/Ipsos poll, McClatchy reports. 56 percent oppose sending any more combat troops to Afghanistan, while 35 percent support sending more troops. Women oppose sending more troops by the lopsided margin of 60-30, men by 52-40. Those who make the least money were the most opposed, with those making less than $25,000 opposed by a margin of 70-27. Hispanics were the most opposed, 86-9, followed by non-Hispanic blacks, 78-15, and non-Hispanic whites, 49-42. Independents were the most opposed, 67-18, followed by Democrats, 66-27. Republicans favored sending more troops by a margin of 52-40. Pentagon officials are expected to request as many as 45,000 additional U.S. troops in a report later this month.

Afghanistan
6) Afghanistan's presidential election process moved closer to violent confrontation Wednesday, the Washington Post reports. The drumbeat of complaints orchestrated by opposition candidate Abdullah's campaign seemed to contain a thinly veiled warning that mass violence would be unpreventable if Karzai is declared a winner on dubious grounds, the Post says.

7) An aide to Britain's defense minister resigned Thursday, criticizing the government's handling of the conflict in Afghanistan and calling on Britain to scale back its commitment there, AP reports. The aide called on Prime Minster Brown to publicly state when Britain would begin removing its forces from Afghanistan. British support for the war is slipping, with lawmakers on Britain's influential Foreign Affairs Committee calling the mission too open-ended and its goals too vague.

Colombia
8) Colombian lawmakers passed a bill on Tuesday aimed at allowing President Alvaro Uribe to seek a third consecutive term, Reuters reports. The bill calls for a referendum on amending the constitution to allow re-election and must still go before Colombia's constitutional court.

9) US Ambassador Brownfield said the US accepted the invitation to discuss the U.S. use of military bases in Colombia with South American leaders, according to Colombia Reports.
Jamaica
10) Trade unionists in Jamaica say the IMF hasn't changed and is still pushing contractionary economic policies in developing countries, the Jamaica Observer reports.

Contents:
U.S./Top News
1) U.S. Terminates $22 Million in Aid to Honduras
Ginger Thompson, New York Times, September 4, 2009
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/04/world/americas/04honduras.html?ref=world

Washington - Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, responding to calls to increase pressure on the de facto Honduras government, announced the termination on Thursday of about $22 million in United States aid that was suspended immediately after President Manuel Zelaya was deposed. "Restoration of the terminated assistance will be predicated upon a return to democratic, constitutional governance in Honduras," said the State Department announcement.

The announcement came after Mrs. Clinton's meeting with Zelaya, who had called on the United States to match its tough words on his ouster with action. United States trade and assistance are the lifeblood of the Honduran economy.

The State Department also announced that it was revoking the visas of several people who had been identified as members or supporters of the current Honduran government. And officials said that, as matters stand, the Obama administration would not recognize the upcoming Honduran presidential elections.

Mrs. Clinton took these actions "recognizing the need for strong measures in light of the continued resistance to the adoption of the San Jose Accord by the de facto regime and continuing failure to restore democratic, constitutional rule to Honduras," Charles Luoma-Overstreet, a spokesman, said in a statement. The accord, brokered by the Costa Rican president, Oscar Arias, provided for Zelaya to resume his presidency in advance of the elections, to be held in November.

In addition to the terminated $22 million in aid, officials said as much as $200 million in Millennium Challenge funds was at stake. The board of the fund, whose chairwoman is Mrs. Clinton, will discuss its grants to Honduras in a meeting next week.

Zelaya said Wednesday, after a speech at George Washington University, that he appreciated the numerous statements President Obama had made in his defense since June 28 when Honduran soldiers rousted him from bed and loaded him, dressed in his pajamas, onto a plane leaving the country.

Yet without tougher actions, he said, Obama's statements had begun to ring hollow, hardening the intransigence of those who deposed him, and signaling to Latin America that the United States put politics above democratic principles.

"He's risking his prestige in Latin America," Zelaya said. "We are not asking him to intervene. We are asking him to be consistent with democratic principles. And if he does that, Latin America will applaud."
[...]
A clash also appears to be brewing between the administration and some Latin American countries over whether to recognize the Honduran election scheduled to take place this autumn. Several countries, including Brazil, Mexico and Chile, have said they would not recognize an election overseen by the de facto government.

The United States, Canada and Caribbean countries have so far not taken a formal position, saying that an election may be the only peaceful way to end the conflict that has polarized Honduras.
[...]

2) State Department Steps Against Honduran Coup Don't Go Far Enough
http://www.cepr.net/index.php/press-releases/press-releases/state-department-steps-coup/

Washington, D.C.- The U.S. State Department issued a release today announcing "the termination of a broad range of assistance to the government of Honduras as a result of the coup d'etat that took place on June 28."

"The State Department is responding to pressure, but it's still not clear if the Obama administration is serious about dislodging the coup regime that it continues to support with military and economic aid," said Mark Weisbrot, Co-Director of CEPR.

State Department spokesman Fred Lash told CEPR that total U.S. assistance to Honduras was $100 million and today's decision affected $30 million: this included $8.96 million from the State Department, $9.4 million from USAID, and $11 million from the Millenium Challenge Corporation (MCC) (which will not be officially cancelled until its Board meets next week).

"There is still quite a bit of money that is not food assistance or anything that poor people need that continues to flow to the dictatorship," said Weisbrot. "Also, the State Department still hasn't officially determined that a military coup took place in Honduras," he added.

Weisbrot also noted that the International Monetary Fund decided just a few days ago to give Honduras more than $160 million. Since the United States has a veto over IMF decisions, this will be seen by the coup regime as a decision of the U.S. government. "The IMF money, which is a huge amount of money for Honduras, will more than compensate for any cuts in U.S. official aid."
[...]

3) G.O.P. Support May Be Vital to Obama on Afghan War
Helene Cooper, New York Times, September 3, 2009
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/03/world/asia/03policy.html

Washington - As President Obama prepares to decide whether to send additional troops to Afghanistan, the political climate appears increasingly challenging for him, leaving him in the awkward position of relying on the Republican Party, and not his own, for support.

The simple political narrative of the Afghanistan war - that this was the good war, in which the United States would hunt down the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks - has faded over time, with popular support ebbing, American casualties rising and confidence in the Afghan government declining. In addition, Afghanistan's disputed election, and the attendant fraud charges that have been lodged against President Hamid Karzai, are contributing further to the erosion of public support.

A CBS News poll released on Tuesday reports that 41 percent of those polled wanted troop levels in Afghanistan decreased, compared with 33 percent in April. Far fewer people - 25 percent - wanted troop levels increased, compared with 39 percent in April. And Obama's approval rating for his handling of Afghanistan has dropped eight points since April, to 48 percent.

Congressional Democrats, particularly those on the left, report increasing disenchantment among constituents with the idea of a long and possibly escalating conflict in Afghanistan, especially as the American strategy comes to resemble a long-term nation-building approach rather than a counterterrorism operation.

"I and the American people cannot tolerate more troops without some commitment about when this perceived occupation will end," Senator Russ Feingold, Democrat of Wisconsin, said Wednesday in an interview. He said he had been to 60 town hall meetings in his state so far this year. During the first half of the year, he said, there were no comments about Afghanistan or Iraq. But in the past two months, that has changed, with more people focused on troop losses in Afghanistan.
[...]
Even one strain of conservative thinking has turned negative on the war. The syndicated columnist George F. Will wrote in a column published Tuesday that the United States should substantially reduce its presence in Afghanistan.

But despite Will's argument, national security hawks in the Republican Party - not Obama's most natural support base - still back the president on Afghanistan.
[...]
But it was the Republican National Committee, and not the Democrats, that was sounding more solidly behind the president on Afghanistan. After Will's abdication on Tuesday, the Republican National Committee quickly sent out an e-mail message and posted a statement, "Stand Strong, Mr. President," on its Web site to take issue with the conservative columnist.
[...]
The debate over Afghanistan will play out in the coming weeks, as the military decides whether to ask for more troops; commanders in Afghanistan have already said their forces are insufficient to get the job done. Obama himself must decide whether to make a more public push for a deeper United States commitment. Administration officials say privately that they believe that they have 12 months to show significant progress in Afghanistan before they totally lose public support.

One danger for Obama is that he may be forced to abandon his own party on Afghanistan for the right, which could put him in a perilous position if Republicans at any point decide they do not want to support a Democratic president on the issue. "Some people on the right think Afghanistan is hopeless, some people think this is Obama's war and want to do to Obama the same thing the left did to Bush with Iraq," [Senator] Graham said.

4) CNN Poll: Afghanistan War opposition at all-time high
Paul Steinhauser, CNN, September 1, 2009
http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2009/09/01/cnn-poll-afghanistan-war-opposition-at-all-time-high/

Washington - Opposition to the war in Afghanistan is at an all-time high in a new national poll. Fifty-seven percent of Americans questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Tuesday say they oppose the U.S. war in Afghanistan, with 42 percent supporting the military mission. The percentage of those in opposition to the war is up 11 points since April, and is the highest ever in CNN polling since the launch of the U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan soon after the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001.

The poll indicates that opposition to the war is coming mainly from Democrats and independents. "Fifty-seven percent of independents and nearly three-quarters of Democrats oppose the war. Seven in 10 Republicans support what the U.S. is doing in Afghanistan," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Democrats mildly opposed the war in April while independents and Republicans favored it. But opposition has grown 18 points among Democrats and 10 points among independents."
[...]

5) Poll: Most Americans oppose more troops for Afghanistan
Steven Thomma, McClatchy Newspapers, Wed, Sep. 02, 2009
http://www.mcclatchydc.com/homepage/story/74730.html

Washington - A majority of Americans think the country isn't winning the war in Afghanistan, and an even larger majority opposes sending more troops in an effort to turn things around, according to a new McClatchy/Ipsos poll.

The survey found that 54 percent of Americans think the U.S. isn't winning the war, while 29 percent think it is winning. Another 17 percent weren't sure or had no opinion.

At the same time, 56 percent oppose sending any more combat troops to Afghanistan, while 35 percent support sending more troops. Another 9 percent had no opinion or weren't sure.

The skepticism about the war and the opposition to sending more troops underscore the political dilemma that President Barack Obama faces as he heads to a Camp David retreat Wednesday with a copy of a new report on Afghanistan that urges a new strategy for the war there. Senior Pentagon officials are expected to request as many as 45,000 additional American troops in a separate report later this month.
[...]
Opposition to sending more troops also cuts across almost all lines, with the deepest opposition coming from women, young people, those making less money, people with less than a high school education, Hispanics and independents, followed closely by Democrats.

Only one group, Republicans, had a majority supporting the dispatch of more troops.

Women oppose sending more troops by the lopsided margin of 60-30, men by 52-40.

The biggest opposition to sending more combat troops comes from people who're 18-34 - those most likely to fight - and drops with age. Young adults oppose additional troops by a margin of 61-32; those who're 35-54 oppose it by 54-37; and those who're 55 and older were against it 53-36.

Similarly, those who make the least money were the most opposed, with those making less than $25,000 opposed by a margin of 70-27; those making $25,000-$50,000 opposed by a margin of 58-35; and those making more than $50,000 split, 45-45.

Geographically, the West was the most opposed to sending more troops, followed by the Northeast, South and Midwest.

Opposition to more troops was strongest among the least educated: 67-28 among those with less than a high school education and 49-38 among those with some college. The tide turned among the college educated, with 46 percent favoring more troops and 44 percent opposed.

Hispanics were the most opposed, 86-9, followed by non-Hispanic blacks, 78-15, and non-Hispanic whites, 49-42.

Politically, independents were the most opposed, 67-18, followed by Democrats, 66-27. Republicans favored sending more troops by a margin of 52-40.

Afghanistan
6) Afghan Vote Results Likely To Be Delayed
As Tension Mounts, Blast Kills Top Official
Pamela Constable and Joshua Partlow, Washington Post, Thursday, September 3, 2009
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/02/AR2009090200329.html

Kabul, Sept. 2 - Afghanistan's volatile presidential election process moved closer to violent confrontation Wednesday, even as officials said releasing the final results from the Aug. 20 polls would be further delayed because of slow vote counting and an even slower effort to investigate hundreds of fraud complaints.

The tension was exacerbated by a suicide bombing outside a mosque in the capital of northeastern Laghman province Wednesday morning. A senior official of the national intelligence service and 23 others were killed; scores were wounded.

Election officials announced Wednesday that President Hamid Karzai, who is seeking reelection, had widened his lead over the main challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, an ophthalmologist and former foreign minister. With about 3.7 million valid votes from 60 percent of polling stations tallied, they said, Karzai leads Abdullah 47.2 to 32.5 percent.

But an election commission spokesman said the date for announcing the final results was likely to slip, while the Canadian chairman of the Electoral Complaints Commission, which is examining more than 2,100 formal allegations of fraud, said it would take weeks for its investigators to finish their work and make a final judgment on the validity of the hotly contested race.

The chairman also said that until his office is able to issue a final judgment on the election, it would be legally impossible for the country to undertake a runoff - even though that is supposed to take place within two weeks after the final results are announced if no candidate wins 50 percent plus one vote.
[...]
Abdullah, who has charged that the government engineered large-scale fraud at the polls and during the local vote-counting process, continued to level fresh accusations while rallying support from hundreds across the country. His supporters have said that they would not accept a flawed Karzai victory as legitimate and have vowed to defend Abdullah in the streets.

For the second day in a row, Abdullah gathered religious and tribal leaders at a hotel in the capital, Kabul. Speaker after speaker accused the government of stealing votes and called Abdullah, a former aide to the late anti-Soviet militia leader Ahmed Shah Massoud, the rightful new leader of Afghanistan.

"The Afghan people will never accept a new government by fraud and intimidation," said Sobghatullah Adapyar, a leader from northern Takhar province. "The youth of Takhar are just waiting for a signal from our leader, Dr. Abdullah. If we cannot win with our heads, we will win with our feet."

Abdullah reiterated his call for supporters to be patient and wait for the vote count and fraud investigations to be completed. He insisted that by calling supporters to the capital, he was not putting pressure on the government, but rather giving it a forum to "relieve the pressure" and thus prevent street violence.

Nevertheless, the drumbeat of complaints orchestrated by Abdullah's campaign seemed to contain a thinly veiled warning that mass violence would be unpreventable if Karzai is declared a winner on dubious grounds.

"We are speaking softly, and we will follow the law, but the process had better be serious and honest," Abdullah said after listening to a slew of emotional denunciations of alleged fraud. "The stones and the trees of this country know how much fraud there was. If it is covered up, there will be no future elections and no democracy."
[...]

7) UK defense aide resigns over Afghanistan policy
Raphael G. Satter, Associated Press, Thursday, September 3, 2009 3:40 PM
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/03/AR2009090302645.html

London - An aide to Britain's defense minister resigned Thursday, criticizing the government's handling of the conflict in Afghanistan and calling on Britain to scale back its commitment there.
[...]
In a resignation letter addressed to Prime Minister Gordon Brown and published by Channel 4 News, Joyce called on Brown to publicly state when Britain would begin removing its forces from Afghanistan and to do a better job of justifying the war to voters. "I do not think the public will accept for much longer that our losses can be justified by simply referring to the risk of greater terrorism on our streets," the letter said. "We also need to make it clear that our commitment in Afghanistan is high but time limited."
[...]
Support for the war is slipping, with critics - including lawmakers on Britain's influential Foreign Affairs Committee - calling the mission too open-ended and its goals too vague. At various times British officials have emphasized the need to make Afghanistan a stable democracy, to curb the opium trade and to stop al-Qaida and related groups basing themselves there.

Colombia
8) Colombian lawmakers pass Uribe re-election bill
Patrick Markey, Reuters, Wednesday, September 2, 2009 2:06 AM
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/02/AR2009090200050.html

Bogota - Colombian lawmakers passed a bill on Tuesday aimed at allowing President Alvaro Uribe to seek a third consecutive term if the conservative U.S. ally chooses to run for re-election next May.

Uribe, popular for his U.S.-backed campaign against leftist rebels, has been evasive about whether he wants to run and he still faces hurdles to a possible re-election bid.

But he has high approval ratings and his allies drove the bill through the legislature despite opposition fears another term for Uribe would undermine Colombia's democracy.

Uribe's supporters say he is the only leader who can tackle the FARC guerrillas who once roamed the countryside kidnapping and bombing almost at will until he sent troops to reclaim swaths of the country under control of armed groups.

After a vote of 85 in favor of the proposal to five opposed, lawmakers applauded and hugged each other on the legislature floor. The bill calls for a referendum on amending the constitution to allow re-election and must still go before Colombia's constitutional court.
[...]

9) US to explain Colombia military base deal to UNASUR
Katharina Wecker, Colombia Reports, Wednesday, 02 SEPTEMBER 2009 09:01
http://colombiareports.com/colombia-news/news/5696-united-states-to-attend-unasur-meeting.html

The United States accepts the invitation to meet South American leaders to discuss the U.S. use of military bases in Colombia, the U.S. ambassador to Bogota said Wednesday.

Even though the United States are no member of the United Nations of South America (UNASUR), it will attend the next summit to discuss the South American countries' concern that the U.S. military would attack neighboring countries of Colombia with the excuse of fighting drugs and terrorism, ambassador William Brownfield told local media.
[...]

Jamaica
10) Unions Propose Stimulus Plan
Gov't presented with strategy going into IMF talks
Patrick Foster, Jamaica Observer, Tuesday, September 01, 2009
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/html/20090831T200000-0500_158659_OBS_UNIONS_PROPOSE_STIMULUS_PLAN.asp

Trade unions have urged the Government to seek financial assistance from multilateral agencies, including the World Bank, to create jobs and prompt spending as a parallel strategy to the country's return to a borrowing relationship with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

According to trade unionist Danny Roberts, the unions have also suggested that the Bruce Golding Administration engage the International Labour Organisation (ILO) as part of a programme to secure protection for workers under the new arrangements with the IMF.
[...]
According to Roberts, the IMF believes in privatisation and pursues a "contractionary policy" where provision for Government expenditure to stimulate an economy is absent.
"The IMF is not encouraging countries to adopt a stimulus package," said Roberts, deputy island supervisor of the National Workers Union and vice president of the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions. "The World Bank and other multilateral agencies provide funding for this type of activity, they can help us with that."

Roberts argued that all developed countries currently emerging from the global financial crisis applied an expansionary policy, pumping funds into projects to create jobs and slow the economic downturn. "No private sector company will invest in a country where aggregate demand is contracting," said Roberts. "Why am I going to produce anything if there is nobody to buy?"
[...]
"Every developed country is into an expansionary policy. Governments are spending to stimulate the economy," Roberts said. "How do we close the budget gap and pay back the IMF loan?" he questioned.

At the same time, Roberts contended that the philosophy of the IMF had not changed since Jamaica received assistance in the 1970s and 80s and used the experience of countries receiving help since September 2008 as proof. "The fundamental IMF philosophy has not changed," Roberts emphasised. "The effects of the policies are likely to be the same, even it may be administered differently," he added.

According to Roberts, two countries - Latvia and Iceland - which recently obtained IMF loans, were having difficulties in drawing down their second tranche because the conditionalities of the fund have "become harsher".

"Iceland can't get their next draw down because the screws are tightening," Roberts remarked, adding that 10 countries received assistance from the IMF since last September. "In all of them, the fiscal and monetary policies are geared towards restraint on government expenditure, either through freezing wages for public sector workers, cutting of subsidies. or foreign exchange liberalisation."
[...]

Robert Naiman
Just Foreign Policy
www.justforeignpolicy.org

Just Foreign Policy is a membership organization devoted to reforming US foreign policy so it reflects the values and interests of the majority of Americans.
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It is also important for them to fully be aware of what is going on. This is not an easy task for everybody.

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