Something's Rotten at the State Department

George Joyce
Last week on Thursday the Miami Herald carried a story with the following headline from AP: “US cuts aid to Honduras in support of ex-leader.”  The story described the outcome of meeting last week between ousted Honduran leader Manuel Zelaya and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  

In the article Zelaya expresses his relief at learning of millions of dollars in rigid new U.S. aid cuts designed to punish the current Micheletti government in Honduras.  State Department spokesman Ian Kelly defended what he called the “strong” new measures against Honduras, which included revoking the U.S. visas of various Honduran officials and terminating most visas issued at the U.S. embassy in Honduras:
“The secretary of state has made the decision, consistent with U.S. legislation, 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.”
The overjoyed Zelaya was quoted as saying: “It is gratifying that the United States has taken a strong position against the coup.”

Just yesterday morning however the Miami Herald carried a story from McClatchy News Service with the following headline: “U.S. cools its support for reinstating Honduras' Manuel Zelaya.” The gist of the story revolves around a letter the “State Department” has recently sent to Senator Richard Lugar, R-Ind., indicating the administration’s desire to ease off on earlier calls for Zelaya’s return to power and to single out Zelaya as a main culprit in the ensuing polarization within Honduras!

The letter, signed by Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs Richard Verma, contained the following remarkable admission:
“We also recognize that President Zelaya's insistence on undertaking provocative actions contributed to the polarization of Honduran society and led to a confrontation that unleashed the events that led to his removal.”
The article also describes Senate Republican resistance to several of Obama’s State Department appointments - a resistance that’s been a product of Republican anger over Obama’s punitive Honduran policy.  The conclusion seems to be that in order to get these appointments confirmed, the State Department needed to back off on its earlier support for Zelaya, even while continuing with the economic sanctions.

The article concludes with the following observation: “The letter comes at a time when Zelaya is expressing his unhappiness with the Obama administration.”

Poor Manuel Zelaya is being taken for a roller coaster ride by a U.S. State Department that can’t seem to figure out whether he’s a good guy or a bad guy.  What’s worse, the State Department’s most recent letter effectively blames Zelaya for the “provocative actions” that led to the resulting “confrontation” in Honduras, but so far the Obama Administration has not revoked its most recent punitive measures against the tiny democracy.

Why is the U.S. punishing tiny Honduras for legally ousting a power obsessed autocrat when the State Department holds the same man responsible for provoking the crisis that caused his ouster?

It takes a special kind of mindset to entertain two contradictory ideas at the same time – I think George Orwell called this strange ability “doublethink.”


Last week on Thursday the Miami Herald carried a story with the following headline from AP: “US cuts aid to Honduras in support of ex-leader.”  The story described the outcome of meeting last week between ousted Honduran leader Manuel Zelaya and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  

In the article Zelaya expresses his relief at learning of millions of dollars in rigid new U.S. aid cuts designed to punish the current Micheletti government in Honduras.  State Department spokesman Ian Kelly defended what he called the “strong” new measures against Honduras, which included revoking the U.S. visas of various Honduran officials and terminating most visas issued at the U.S. embassy in Honduras:
“The secretary of state has made the decision, consistent with U.S. legislation, 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.”
The overjoyed Zelaya was quoted as saying: “It is gratifying that the United States has taken a strong position against the coup.”

Just yesterday morning however the Miami Herald carried a story from McClatchy News Service with the following headline: “U.S. cools its support for reinstating Honduras' Manuel Zelaya.” The gist of the story revolves around a letter the “State Department” has recently sent to Senator Richard Lugar, R-Ind., indicating the administration’s desire to ease off on earlier calls for Zelaya’s return to power and to single out Zelaya as a main culprit in the ensuing polarization within Honduras!

The letter, signed by Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs Richard Verma, contained the following remarkable admission:
“We also recognize that President Zelaya's insistence on undertaking provocative actions contributed to the polarization of Honduran society and led to a confrontation that unleashed the events that led to his removal.”
The article also describes Senate Republican resistance to several of Obama’s State Department appointments - a resistance that’s been a product of Republican anger over Obama’s punitive Honduran policy.  The conclusion seems to be that in order to get these appointments confirmed, the State Department needed to back off on its earlier support for Zelaya, even while continuing with the economic sanctions.

The article concludes with the following observation: “The letter comes at a time when Zelaya is expressing his unhappiness with the Obama administration.”

Poor Manuel Zelaya is being taken for a roller coaster ride by a U.S. State Department that can’t seem to figure out whether he’s a good guy or a bad guy.  What’s worse, the State Department’s most recent letter effectively blames Zelaya for the “provocative actions” that led to the resulting “confrontation” in Honduras, but so far the Obama Administration has not revoked its most recent punitive measures against the tiny democracy.

Why is the U.S. punishing tiny Honduras for legally ousting a power obsessed autocrat when the State Department holds the same man responsible for provoking the crisis that caused his ouster?

It takes a special kind of mindset to entertain two contradictory ideas at the same time – I think George Orwell called this strange ability “doublethink.”