In case you hadn’t noticed, Honduras—tiny Honduras!—is currently in a state of full diplomatic rebellion against USG. And the latter, predictably, is not pleased:
Our action today is to send a very clear message to the de facto regime: Their strategy will not work. They have to sign on to the San Jose Accords. There are things that they must do. This is not about what the United States is doing. This is about what they must do if they’re going to get out of the hole that they have put themselves in. […] And our hope is that as they see the seriousness of purpose, and as they also see that, at this point in time, there’s no way out of this—they, we believe, had the judgment that if they just get to an election—to election day, that this would absolve them of the actions they’ve taken. And we’re saying that based on conditions as they currently exist, we cannot recognize the results of this election. So for the de facto regime, they’re now in a box and they will have to sign on to the San Jose Accords to get out of the box that they’re in.
The transcript does not record that Mr. Crowley uttered any of the following phrases:
However, this may be a mere clerical omission. What we are looking at is a rare 21st-century opportunity to hear USG speaking in its Darth Vader voice. As a student of history one becomes quite familiar with this tone, but it is not often seen in the papers these days.
It is too much to expect evil to walk naked in the world. In real life, evil does not wear a skull helmet or speak through a respirator. Why would it? Why not drape itself in silks of good? But this clothing interferes, by its very nature, with the fangs and sting and claws. So the patient watcher is rewarded, every now and then, with a flash of black scales or a yellow demon grin. But most of the time, he sees a kindly, wise and charming pillar of the community. Such is State.
Or if you want to sound like a real insider—DOS. DOS talks to Israel in the Vader voice all the time, of course. Nor are historical examples difficult to identify. However, the case of Honduras is a beautiful, tiny, perfectly-framed picture of USG’s modern imperial style, and it would be a shame not to notice it.
Brief summary of events in Honduras: President Zelaya was attempting to organize an extra-constitutional referendum to make himself president-for-life and join the Chavez bloc. He was removed, more or less legally, by the Honduran Supreme Court and deported by the military. The “San Jose Accords” are State’s plan—endorsed by American tools in 61 nations, 57 states and the District of Columbia—to return President Zelaya to Honduras, and Honduras to its rightful place in USG’s glittering constellation of partners, allies and friends. No doubt Honduras would do the same for its equally good friend, America, were right and disordered mind reversed.
(“Accord” is a typical Orwellism. Diplomacy has a word for an imposed agreement. The design, or at least effect, of this spinology is to subtly suggest to the uninformed mind that the “de facto” (i.e., actual) Honduran government has in some way agreed to said “Accord,” and is now dishonestly trying to weasel out of it. Imagine how much marketing trouble Foggy Bottom would have with the “San Jose Order.” Why, it might almost make us think of some interaction between Brezhnev and Gomulka.)
In any case, Honduras—tiny Honduras!—has not been a good boy and signed its confession, I mean, “Accord.” Therefore, State has now taken away its allowance (about $40 million a year), and grounded it (stopped issuing visas to Hondurans). The Hondurans have scheduled a new presidential election for November, and are attempting to “run out the clock” until this event—which they foolishly believe will give them a “new down.” As I write, Mr. Crowley has just informed them that this belief is incorrect. “Pray I do not alter it further.”
Honduras! This is Washington. We find your lack of faith disturbing. Ha ha! Just kidding. Actually, amigos, we are both of the same faith. We both believe in democracy. While we can’t tell you exactly what democracy is, we can tell you that it involves your guy getting out, and our guy getting in. Oh, BTW, we invented democracy—so you should probably take our word for it.
Now, one could continue indefinitely in this vein. But this is UR, not Mark Steyn. Our goal is not to mock, but understand. What, exactly, is going on here? If Honduras is, as I assert, a clear case of a general pattern, what is that pattern? If it raises unanswerable questions about current history, what are those questions?
Scott at Power Line, which is really the only establishment-conservative blog you need to read, takes a pretty good stab at the pattern:
At first it appeared that Barack Obama and his foreign policy team might be having a hard time distinguishing America’s friends from America’s enemies. With their treatment of Israel and Honduras, however, one can safely infer that they have a pretty good bead on the friend/enemy distinction. The problem is that in many cases they choose to undermine America’s friends and side with America’s enemies.
So (as Scott might tell you) State’s approach to Iran—another nation with which America’s relations are strained—is to offer it bags of candy if it will be nice and make up. This is generally described as “engagement,” or even (quite boldly, I should say) as “realism.” Whereas Honduras, which would like nothing better than to kiss and be friends, gets a taste of Lord Vader’s Sith grip.
Honduras, of course, is not Iran. The disparity can be explained in many ways. However, this is certainly not the only case in which it is seen. If you do not have an explanation of your own, I hope you will consider UR’s.
Powerline’s standard conservative narrative, while basically accurate, is a piece of rhetoric rather than an explanation. It raises far more questions than it answers.
For instance: is it Barack Obama personally who is responsible for this odd pattern of kissing up to haters and hating on friends, or “his foreign policy team?” If the latter, could we not better summarize it with one word—“State?” If so, when did this tendency toward inverted foreign policy arise? 2009? 2008? 1908? And how, exactly, can USG be changed in order to correct it? No doubt Scott could answer the first two questions. The last two are out of his pay grade.
Jeane Kirkpatrick, in her famous essay Dictators and Double Standards (1979), explores the general issue in considerably more than a paragraph—with the considerable benefit of a Carter Administration fresh in her mind. Many fine insights are found in this work. Unfortunately, since the Honduran regime in question is not in any sense an “autocracy,” her framework does not quite fit the case. Nor does she answer the above two questions.
Progressives have their own difficult questions, of course. Namely: when, exactly, did Honduras become a colony of the United States? If Honduras is not in fact a colony of the United States, but actually an independent country, why does Washington get to decide who is, or is not, the President of Honduras?
Honduras is not a large country. If you collected all the pages of rhetoric, English or Spanish, ever produced about Yanqui intervention in Latin America, you could surely cover its surface—possibly one or two books deep. Yet here is the government of the United States, speaking in the third person to the government of Honduras:
There are things that they must do.
(Alas, they have not yet done these things. But perhaps Mr. Crowley and friends can find new ways to motivate them. In fact, I rather suspect they will.)
And the noise from Noam Chomsky? Crickets? Not even:
Chomsky pointed out that the ongoing coup in Honduras, which began on June 28th, is the third coup the United States has supported in Latin America so far this century…
Facing criticism, Obama’s defenders say that the United States can’t do any more than it’s already doing, and that a military intervention to restore the constitutional president to power would be absolutely unacceptable. Putting things in these terms, the White House washes its hands and ends up favoring, albeit indirectly, the position of the coup perpetrators. […] If the White House were to […] bureaucratically stifle the remittances of Honduran immigrants to the U.S. without further delay, as well as warn U.S. businesses that they must plan for a rapid withdrawal from Honduras, Micheletti and his gang would last less than the blink of an eye. If the immediate recall of the U.S. Ambassador in Honduras and the instant interruption of all forms of economic or military aid were added, while the White House asked its European friends to abstain from relations with Tegucigalpa, the days of the putschists would be numbered. Does Obama have the necessary courage to impose this alternative? Or is he resigned to being a simple figurehead for a reactionary alliance that experienced its most glorious days during the years of George W. Bush?
You see how Chomsky can be right. Chomsky is always right. By its failure to take truly bold, visionary acts to oppose the Micheletti regime, Washington is in fact supporting that regime. Black is never absolutely black, white is never absolutely white. To make something white look black, simply define white as whiter than whatever white thing you are making look black.
Unsurprisingly—for a man with no shortage of progressive connections—Teh One himself has heard these voices. His answer—surprisingly—is the same as ours:
“It is important to note the irony that the people that were complaining about the U.S. interfering in Latin America are now complaining that we are not interfering enough,” Obama said in early August.
Note that this is a response to a question, not a scripted line—Barack Obama, the actor himself, actually improvised these words. I feel much of his appeal is due to the genuine sense that there is a real human being behind the character, as of course there is. A lightweight, a Gatsby, a man of no courage, principle or purpose. A human soap bubble. But still, capable of noticing irony.
But I digress. Our goal is not to criticize these people. Since you are here, you are already quite safe from the grip of Darth Noam, let alone Teh One. We can laugh at the Jedi mind tricks for a moment, but we are here to understand them.
What we see is that progressives object to American intervention in Latin American politics, but only to a certain class of American intervention in Latin American politics. They claim to hate eggs, but they actually only hate hardboiled eggs. Scrambled eggs, they can eat all day. It is only if you assume that all eggs are hardboiled that this rhetoric makes sense. But once you see the progressive chowing down on a big plate of scrambled eggs, the following questions arise:
What is the difference between hardboiled and scrambled eggs—bad Lord Vader, and good Lord Vader? What criteria can we use to distinguish hardboiling from scrambling? Why do progressives hate hardboiled eggs, and why then do they spend so much time condemning eggs—rather than the real problem, hardboiling?
Old readers of UR should have little difficulty in answering both progressive and conservative questions, and applying the results to Honduras. But since not everyone here has dredged through the entire archive, let us present a reactionary narrative.
Start with the conservative critique. “The problem is that in many cases they ie, State choose to undermine America’s friends and side with America’s enemies.” Now, why would that be?
Generalizing, we quickly find ourselves staring at the broader question of sadistic government. What we see here—if we agree with Scott at Powerline—is USG, an entity formally constituted to promote the collective interests of Americans, acting against those interests. Is it really? But why? And if so, how can it be stopped?
Recovering the actual meaning and purpose of foreign policy from two centuries of democratic spin is a task only slightly less difficult than recovering Jimmy Hoffa from the foundations of the Meadowlands. Scott at Powerline has his own vision of American interests in foreign policy, as of course does Darth Noam. Neither has much to do with the natural law of nations, which Americans once knew and perhaps can learn again. Indeed there is very little of Vattel in the relationship between Washington and Tegucigalpa.
But even without the great edifice of classical international law, mere common sense is sufficient to describe American interests in foreign policy. A foreign government serves American interests if it supports American security, trades honestly with American businessmen, does not kidnap American tourists and hold them for ransom, etc., etc., etc.
This is (a) more or less what Scott at Powerline would tell you, and (b) more or less identical with the general right-wing tendency in American foreign policy. Toward the right end of this spectrum, what we see is the ultimate self-interested foreign policy: colonialism. (Note that we are intentionally avoiding the question of Honduran interests—to be covered later.)
By this simple analysis, supporting Zelaya over Micheletti in Honduras is indeed a case—if a tiny case—of USG working against American interests. Chomsky no doubt has his own elaborate answer to this question; indeed the beauty of the Honduran example lies in the increasingly baroque suits of nothing in which the progressive tailor must clothe his emperor. The obvious is much more compelling.
Moreover, we see that the general left-wing tendency in American foreign policy, at least in the modern era, is to support at least one class of foreign regimes who oppose these interests—cooperating militarily with powers hostile to America, confiscating American investments, even murdering American diplomats.
Thus, again: undermining friends and siding with enemies. Sadistic government. USG, constituted to act for the collective benefit of Americans, instead acts for their collective harm. Obviously, the phenomenon of a state persecuting its subjects, seemingly without rhyme or reason, is no historical novelty. Since the pattern is neither new nor random, it is not without rhyme or reason, and we must explain it.
The interests of government and governed are never perfectly aligned. A government is the owner of valuable human and geographical capital, and the profits from this capital must go somewhere. Even a government that runs a persistent deficit does so not because its land or population is not valuable, but simply because its accounting is bad and it is paying too many dividends to its proprietors—typically disguised as employees or other beneficiaries.
However, once we realize that every government tries to extract as much revenue as possible from its subjects, we see an alignment of interest on every point beyond the tax rate. The authorities profit by extracting a percentage of their subjects’ prosperity; thus both share an interest in maximizing the pie.
The classic analogy is the relationship between shepherd and sheep. The shepherd shears his sheep. The sheep, presumably, do not like being sheared, but they will not do well without a shepherd. The shepherd, while he could probably get more for a sheepskin than a bale of wool, does not in general skin his sheep. Nor does he carve swastikas into their sides, tie their hind legs together, and surround them by a wall of giant speakers playing Hootie and the Blowfish.
USG is obviously not operated on the shepherd model. It is operated on the democratic model. Rather than preventing sheep-torture by aligning the interests of shepherd and sheep, democratic theory asserts that since sheep will never consent to have swastikas carved into their sides, state sadism is precluded by requiring the shepherd to obtain the consent of the sheep—at least, in some formal sense. Our experience does not suggest that this system is infallible.
(Notice the simple mental steps we have taken to separate our minds from democratic cant. By talking about “USG” rather than “America,” we not only use the normal language of Washington, but emphasize that USG is a corporate entity whose actions and interests cannot be axiomatically identified with those of its subjects. Whereas when we use the conventional language of politics, the proposition that America is acting against American interests seems inherently nonsensical, almost impossible to express or discuss.)
So we see two general ways in which a sadistic government can appear. One, it can be run on the pure shepherd model, with perfect central authority, and said shepherd can be insane or otherwise irresponsible. If your shepherd is Marcus Aurelius or Lord Cromer, you are doing well. If he is a sadistic, Hootie-loving Nazi, you will have to grin and bear it. But again—since USG is obviously not run on the shepherd model, this option does not apply.
Two, sadistic government can arise in a state of scattered authority. This class of defective political structure, which is about halfway done destroying European civilization, is generally held at educated circles at present to be the philosopher’s stone of government. Indeed: the more people who have input into a decision, the better that decision is likely to be. As so often, the fallacy is the simple polar opposite of the truth. The Romans knew this error as imperium in imperio—the ass’s bridge or fool’s mate of political engineering.
The ideological parent of modern scattered authority is Montesquieu’s doctrine of separation of powers—originating in a very misguided view of the 18th-century British constitution. Since one may search the modern power structure of Britain, inasmuch as any such thing remains, in vain for any relic of the Crown or Lords—or even much of the Commons—Montesquieu is easily seen as refuted. No separated authority structure is stable. (Note that in all private administrative structures, corporations and nonprofits alike, executive authority is often delegated, seldom shared or divided, never scattered.)
Scattered authority is the principle of Montesquieu taken to an extreme. Formally, every man or woman has a vote—although the 20th-century separation (utterly factitious) of “politics” from “public policy”, the latter far predominating in actual decision control, the former fast sinking into the mere ceremonial, makes this nanoslice of authority still more counterfeit, primarily a tool of emotional manipulation for the permanent civil-service state. But even within the real world of public policy, the general principle is that the more people who are cut into the loop, the better their collective decisions will be. This is contrary to every principle of human nature.
Most important: any such division of authority is rivalrous. All humans crave and enjoy power. It is an evolutionary drive only slightly less ancient than sex. Our ancestors have lived in complex hierarchical societies since before they were baboons. In these societies, the only stable division of authority was a complete geographic division, i.e., territorial sovereignty.
The common cause of modern state sadism is rivalry between divided authorities. Just as it is a fundamental mistake to confuse USG with America, it is an equal mistake to consider USG itself as a single actor—to say that Washington wants this, or thinks that. (It is not a mistake to confuse USG with Washington. One day, the Potomac will again flow unvexed to the sea.) In the case of Honduras, we must speak not of USG, but DOS—State.
And nor is DOS a unitary actor. It is not actually an empire within an empire, like Hoover’s FBI. We should be so lucky. State is almost entirely immune to any interference from that archaic political absurdity, the White House, and of course in a Democratic administration power flows more in the other direction. (The whole point of electing Democrats is to allow the permanent government to do its thing. When you vote for a Democrat, you are saying: I am tired of politics. I am loyal to the permanent government and trust in its prudent guidance.) The organization has no leader—internal or external. Not the President, not the Secretary.
No: State is a corporate culture, a set of employees that gradually turns over (the last corps within USG selected by that true dinosaur of American history—civil-service examinations), and of course a set of power networks that are utterly and completely invisible. There is one thing you can say for scattered-authority systems: they are impossible to decapitate. Critical individuals are not to be found. Thus, these systems (commonly known as “bureaucracies”) are not only very ineffective, but also very stable.
Thus, the determining causal factor in American foreign policy is the corporate culture of State. To explain why USG does X or Y or Z in its foreign relations, our simplest answer is that X or Y or Z is consistent with the corporate culture—the shared opinions and perspectives, the professional consensus—of the State Department. Since State is responsible to no one, if this consensus leads State toward actions whose effect is sadistic toward Americans (or others), USG acts sadistically.
It is easy to explain why State—or other scattered-authority institutions, i.e., bureaucracies—tends toward a fundamentally sadistic corporate culture. Moreover, we can answer one of our questions right now: the problem is completely unfixable. Your vehicle is totaled.
An invariant property of scattered-authority institutions is that real power within these institutions, since it does not flow top-down as in a healthy corporation, always exists in informal social networks. (Being informal, these networks can never be precisely traced. A little prosopography is never uncalled for, but Satan’s invisible world cannot be displayed.)
Being old hands at the chimpanzee coalition game, humans are also very good at adjusting their ideas to those of their peers. Our question, when we inquire into the corporate culture of State or any other permanent scattered-authority institution, is what ideas will prevail within State. Again, if these ideas tend toward sadistic foreign policy, sadism is a certain result.
It seems clear that two kinds of ideas are popular in all bureaucracies. One form of idea is that either the entire bureaucracy, or some part of it, should grow larger or more important. The other is that more people should be involved in the decision-making process. Obviously, the opposite ideas (smaller bureaucracy, more authoritarian management) are equally disfavored.
These are popular ideas because they produce results that attract individuals. More precisely, they tend to empower the clerks of the enterprise—to give them more personal impact on its decision process, either by creating more decisions or cutting more people into each decision.
In an institution run by coherent authority without imperium in imperio—i.e., on the shepherd model—all authority is at the center. Employees are just employees. In a scattered-authority institution, however, the matter is quite different. The power of the institution is truly distributed around its employee network. The clerks are servants, but also masters.
Especially when the institution is USG—the planet’s only true sovereign—this attracts a rather different type of employee. Power, again, is universally desirable. So those who work in Washington are paid in two currencies: dollars, and power. The conventional word is impact. Impact implies social status: it determines how often you get laid, and with whom. Of course, in a scattered-authority institution, no one’s impact is very high—but everyone’s can be compared.
To have impact, you must have an effect, and that effect must not have happened without you. The analogy to work in physics is irresistible. Work is force times distance moved. Similarly, there is no impact unless you (a) produce some change, and (b) do so against some resistance.
Thus everyone at State can be expected to strive for impact—both personally and institutionally. Each individual wants to leave some mark, no matter how tiny; all, or at least most, can be expected to favor maximum impact for State, as a whole.
(It is important to note that this process is not conscious. Rather, it is Darwinian. The giraffe, contra certain fanciful early evolutionists, did not intend to grow a long neck. Rather, long-necked okapis browsed gleefully as their short-necked siblings curled up and died.
The corporate culture of State can be expected to favor perspective X, if perspective X maximizes the impact of State. Networks of colleagues who favor Y, which minimizes impact, will not prosper. But the individuals who believe in perspective X do not motivate this by their desire to aggrandize State. No, they always have some other explanation—generally perfectly sincere.)
All this may be simplified into the commonly-known fact that bureaucracies love to expand, and hate to shrink. Remembering that State is not a single coherent actor, we can fold it into this generalization and continue.
Now, we notice something right away about official sadism. It fits this profile perfectly. The formal purpose of the organization, which is never of course sadistic, may provide limited scope for impact. American interests are of course quite limited—especially with respect to Honduras. However, when we get into sadism, a whole new door opens.
The varieties of sadism are effectively unlimited. Tired of carving swastikas on your sheep? It’s a delicious, fresh, brand-new Sunday morning—why not turn over a new leaf? Why not Mace them instead? What happens when you Mace a sheep? There’s only one way to find out.
But best of all, sadism always creates resistance. If you hurt the sheep, they will resist—so much as they can, in their sheeplike way—and you will have impact. You can have someone make a film of you, courageously overcoming an entire flock of sheep—large ruminants, let’s not forget—with only a small can of Mace to defend yourself. Cut properly, the film will show you as a hero, standing up against the vicious sheep.
This is the broad historical pattern of US foreign policy: in one word, sadism. It is a very different pattern of sadism than the likes of Darth Noam suppose. Far more damning, in fact. But the basic moral judgment is the same. The fundamental drive is the libido dominandi—the lust to dominate. Another word for impact is victory; and there is no victory without victim. (The victim may, of course, deserve it.)
What is new, in the last century, is the direction of this sadism against American interests. Until the post-1945 era, USG had been content with dominating the benighted subjects of its unlucky neighbors. In the Cold War, however, it learned a new trick: rewarding its foreign puppets for abusing America and Americans. History will record this design as one of our great masterpieces of high baroque sadism—comparable even to Pasolini’s 120 Days of Sodom.
Again, sadism always generates resistance. If you attack the corporations, the churches, the military, or any other institution of an undemocratic reactionary bourgeois kulak nature, said institution is unlikely to roll over and turn the other cheek. It will fight back, or at least complain. Presto: you are being oppressed. It is you who must resist. A luta continua. Moreover, sheep are remarkably resilient and have thick skin under their thick wool. Don’t cut the swastikas too deep, and you can keep the game going almost indefinitely.
Now, again, those who support a sadistic foreign policy do not see it as a sadistic foreign policy. To be more precise, they do not believe in it because they believe in sadism. Quite the opposite, usually. They believe in it anyway, however, and sadistic it remains. Let’s see how this works out, in practice and in history.
The history of USG’s interventions in Latin American politics can be separated into two classes: self-interested, and sadistic. Self-interested interventions tend to favor right-wing parties, for the reasons described above. Sadistic interventions tend to favor left-wing parties. Earlier in history, as in the Spanish-American War, the two are intertwined and very hard to separate. (The British Empire, of course, was the master of interventions both sadistic and profitable.) Later in history, as in Honduras, self-interest disappears and all we see is sadism. This is the dominant pattern, so we discuss it first.
The state of mind involved in a sadistic intervention is almost always humanitarian. The sadist reasons: A is, in some way, abusing B. Therefore I must attack A, for the good of B. Again, A may or may not be genuinely abusing B, and the result of defeating A may or may not genuinely benefit B. Usually, my impression is—not. But either way, this is a very easy path to sadism. There are other excuses, of course.
Thus, in the 19th century, the thrust of US policy in Latin America is the Monroe Doctrine. The US is the land of revolutionary democracy. It exports revolutionary democracy to Mexico and parts south—replacing the stable Spanish government that had kept the peace for so long. After its own little internal conflict over the Rights of Man, it terminates the French attempt to restore European government in Mexico. Result: chaos, murder, destruction. No country except the US achieves a democracy that is stable by American standards.
In the 20th century, our brown brothers discover a form of government that provides more or less the same services as the Spanish: kleptocratic military dictatorship. It is not perfect, for sure. The fabric of social and political authority is considerably decayed since colonial times. But the dictators keeps order, pays the bills, cuts the sugarcane and hangs the thieves. The classic example: the Porfiriato of Diaz.
Rather, these countries—whose so-called independence is more dubious every year—must adopt either socialism or social democracy. American Puritanism has mutated again, finding a new, more virulent, nominally atheist form. It must spread south, by persuasion or force—or better yet, a bit of both. “I am going to teach the South American Republics to elect good men!” Result: chaos, murder, destruction.
It is especially critical to note the relationship between conversion and coercion in this process. Americans, Yankee and Latin, take the most fashionable ideas of the North and bring them South. The tough moral fiber of Yankee society is almost impervious to radical democracy—it has taken two centuries to break down, and much still remains. The delicate Catholic succumbs at once. Overnight, he is an atheist, a Communist or both—probably both.
And why are these ideas, so obviously destructive, so popular in the South? Because they are the ideas of power, and they come attached to American strings. With the blessings of the Alliance for Progress and the Ford Foundation. It was even better to have the Soviet Union, itself the product of ideological colonization, competing furiously in the puppet-state count. This was the best possible excuse for impact—it gave State a pretext to develop its own socialist empire in the Third World, under the guise of anti-Communism.
Hostile socialist states—i.e., regimes even more socialist than USG—are great material for impact. Many jobs are created in soothing them, apologizing for them, apologizing to them, and otherwise trying to coax them back into being friends rather than enemies. This never happens without a collapse of government, because being America’s enemies is their business—just as nurturing America’s enemies is Foggy Bottom’s business.
One of the many fascinating details in Waugh’s Robbery Under Law, essential for anyone interested in this destructive process, is the popularity of Fascist ideology in Mexico in the late 1930s, such as the Falange and their concept of Hispanidad. This was of course nothing but the same intellectual attraction of power—taking a very different direction. Alas, this fabulous alternate reality of Mexican Nazis received its fatal blow at Stalingrad.
And speaking of Nazis, we need to consider the other half of the equation: the “pro-American” forces. Such as these people in Honduras.
Alas, the Honduran oligarchy appears to be just about exactly what the left claims it is. Featuring such charming individuals as Billy Joya. Personally, if I were given a choice between Che and Billy Joya, let alone Chavez and Billy Joya, I would pick Billy Joya. I feel it’s unfortunate that Steven Soderbergh has not done a Billy Joya biopic, especially considering Sr. Joya’s remarkable resemblance to the young Robert Redford. There is certainly no denying that the man knows a thing or two about sadism, and Communists. Perhaps he should start a blog of his own.
On the other hand, there are a lot more people than Billy Joya in this march. What we are looking at here is more or less the entire Honduran upper class—i.e., except for a few Communist professors and other professional malcontents, anyone that you or I could possibly find socially compatible in Honduras.
This is the general support base of “pro-American” regimes. They are “pro-American” because they generally produce the best possible semblance of orderly government, which is good for both Americans who interact with Honduras, and Hondurans. Duh.
Here is the real beauty of leftist foreign policy. Any anti-American policy, i.e., any foreign policy sadistic toward Americans, is likely to be sadistic in its effect on the foreigners as well. It thus generates resistance, and impact, from both. Since it does so, the two will appear to be in cahoots—in fact, they may even actually be in cahoots. Thus we see not only foreign resistance, but resistance from foreigners and Americans working together. Can you say “sinister,” boys and girls? I knew you could.
Honduras, alas, is not known for its high patrician-to-plebeian ratio. These people fear real democracy for a reason. Honduran politics appears to be stuck in the classic Liberal-Conservative dichotomy of old-school Latin American politics, familiar to anyone who was ever forced to read Gabriel Garcia Marquez. In other words: two century-old parties, more or less indistinguishable, both representing the social elite. Honduras was blessed with a military dictatorship that lasted into the ’80s, and has never had a really democratic or socialist government. Mr. Joya and his friends certainly knew how to deal with the Communists in the ’60s through ’80s. It is not quite clear to me with what tricks the Honduran constitution suppresses the mob, but it appears to do a relatively decent job of it.
Because Honduras is not known for its high patrician-to-plebeian ratio, it was obvious that someone—especially a rogue like Zelaya—would eventually try the game of full-scale, Chavez-style vote-buying and the rest of the democratic apparatus. And, although the force of USG, that good old Wind of Change, is definitely fading, I am really not sure these Honduran clowns can resist it. All it takes is one election. One Chavista president, and the oligarchy is toast. If Zelaya returns, he will return victorious—the oligarchy is toast.
Consider, for instance, these protests raised in the name of “democracy.” Scott at Powerline will tell you: USG has been promoting democracy for 200 years, and now it is winking at tyrants in Iran and squashing freedom fighters, such as Billy Joya, in Honduras. Obviously, it has suddenly changed its mind, and needs to be set back on the right track. This is the approved conservative line, which is so attractive to everyone.
Whereas in fact, the neoconservative attempts to promote democracy are nothing like their liberal ancestors. Neoconservative foreign policy is right-wing foreign policy. Whether in Honduras or Iran or Iraq, it aims not to destabilize an existing pre-democratic or reactionary regime, but to avert or remove a post-democratic or revolutionary regime. Thus it is not destructive, but constructive. It may in fact involve some impact, as in Iraq, but this impact is of precisely the kind most hated by the progressive—it is, in a word, colonialism.
Destructive? Am I that over the top—to describe progressive foreign policy as sadistic and destructive? Well, for an answer, head over to Al Giordano’s (Mr. Giordano is widely published in the little progressive tabloids so popular among the young and enlightened), and watch him fantasize about starting a civil war in Honduras. Alas, he concludes, the time is not quite ripe:
That correlation, if objectively analyzed, does not at present contain the successful ingredients that would be necessary to overturn the coup through the barrel of a gun.
Let us, and Honduras, be thankful for small mercies. Of course, others may disagree. And is Billy Joya constructive? Well, if he wins. I, myself, would be happy to leave Billy Joya to Honduras, but I would certainly not be so bold as to preclude the possibility that Honduras needs a Billy Joya. It certainly does not need a Manuel Zelaya, although it will almost certainly get one.
Honduras is just a living fossil, as Rhodesia and South Africa once were, as Israel also is—an independent country, sort of, not quite assimilated and destroyed. A strange relic of the past. Someday there will be a country that successfully stands up to USG, but probably not soon, and probably not Honduras. Alas. It’ll take a lot more work and a lot more thought.