Predictably, the Washington Post and New York Times the have given op-ed space in recent days to people seeking to justify the military coup in Honduras, and blaming the coup on President Zelaya (the same writer in the latter case. )
Meanwhile, the Honduran military’s top legal adviser was talking to the Miami Herald. Army attorney Col. Herberth Bayardo Inestroza was, shall we say, a little off-message.
In the interview, Col. Inestroza made two admissions that were remarkable in light of the efforts by pundits and Republicans in the United States to justify the coup.
First: he admitted that the coup was initiated by the military, and that it broke the law:
"We know there was a crime there," said Inestroza, the top legal advisor for the Honduran armed forces. "In the moment that we took him out of the country, in the way that he was taken out, there is a crime."
This much, of course, was obvious. But much more remarkable was Inestroza’s admission of what the core issue for the Honduran military was: taking orders from a leftist.
"We fought the subversive movements here and we were the only country that did not have a fratricidal war like the others," he said. "It would be difficult for us, with our training, to have a relationship with a leftist government. That’s impossible."
So, this is democracy, according to the Honduran military: we won’t take orders from a leftist, because of our "training."
You might hope that these statements would cause some heated questions in Washington. After all, where did that "training" come from? Much of it came from the United States.
U.S. military assistance to Honduras – and other countries – is frequently justified on the grounds that it gives us "influence" over the militaries of these countries – the implication being that the influence so purchased is a positive force.
Now, the Obama Administration suggests it is doing all it can to reverse the coup and restore President Zelaya to office – as called for unanimously by the UN General Assembly and the Organization of American States.
So far, whatever the Obama Administration has done has not caused the coup government to budge in its unwillingness to allow the democratically elected President of Honduras to resume his office.
So, at least one of the following things must be true: either the Obama Administration is not doing all it can, or the "influence" we purchased with our military aid isn’t worth very much, or the influence that we purchased was not a positive force. Far from influencing the Honduran military in the direction in which most Americans would characterize as "American values," the Honduran military has been "trained," apparently, to regard itself as a power above the law, whose mission is to protect the interests of a narrow elite.
If you don’t think Col. Inestroza’s statements reflect "American values" in the commonsense use of the term, why not give Secretary of State Clinton a call, and urge her to do everything in her power to restore the democratically elected president of Honduras to office, as called for by the UN and the OAS. You can reach the State Department at 202-647-4000.