(Bumped up from Wednesday.)

US HondurasAfter Barack Obama’s team of White House amateurs overreacted to the expulsion of Honduran President Zelaya two weeks ago by lining up with Fidel Castro and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, Hillary Clinton’s State Department has brought some adult leadership to the process. What Barack Obama should have done at the outset was coordinate with his Secretary of State. But apparently Barack likes to listen to the likes of Dennis McDonough, who is a political hack on par with Karl Rove. McDonough is clueless on policy but always eager to play a political angle.

Rather than check with the intelligence community, who could have briefed President Obama on the fact that intelligent agents of Cuba and Venezuela were plotting with Honduran President Zelaya to circumvent the Honduran Constitution, Obama quickly denounced the Hondurans and failed to do anything behind the scenes to prevent the blow up or reassure the Hondurans that the United States would not abandon them to Chavez. Although the Honduran military had the full support of the Honduran Supreme Court and the Honduran Congress when it moved against Zelaya, the action exposed Honduras to charges that it was reverting to the bad old days of military governance.

Enter Hillary the Savior.

Secretary of State Clinton, while condemning the action of the Honduran military, mounted a behind the scenes diplomatic effort to counter the meddling of Cuba and Venezuela. Her efforts paid dividends yesterday with the news that Nobel laureate and former Costa Rican President, Oscar Arias, would mediate the conflict. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Mrs. Clinton said both sides had agreed to work with Mr. Arias, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 for brokering an end to civil wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua. She called him “the natural person to assume this role.”

Talks will begin Thursday in Costa Rica, Mr. Zelaya told Honduran radio. It was the Obama administration’s idea to bring Mr. Arias in as a mediator, said a senior U.S. official briefed on the diplomacy.

Mr. Arias could help the U.S. try to find a solution in which Mr. Zelaya returns to his post temporarily. Political parties here also have discussed moving up presidential elections already scheduled for November.

But a solution could prove tricky, with Honduras’s political establishment opposed to Mr. Zelaya resuming his post for any period.

Honduras’s acting president, Roberto Micheletti, applauded the designation of Mr. Arias and said, “We are ready for dialogue,” but added, “Only if it’s about President Zelaya’s surrendering himself to the tribunals of justice, and not about his return.” He told reporters, “No way.”

Washington has sought to make clear it prizes democratic principles by quickly condemning the coup and throwing its weight behind Mr. Zelaya, though he is a leftist ally of Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez and a frequent critic of the U.S.

The Wall Street Journal is a tad hysterical here. The reality is that a deal is likely in place that will let Zelaya finish his term after a public commitment to forego his effort to circumvent the Honduran Constitution and seek a new four year term for himself.

The Honduran press sees it differently. The lead article in today’s La Prensa states:
EEUU parece abandonar a Manuel Zelaya (The United States Appears to Abandon Manuel Zelaya).

La Prensa also reported on the testimony of proposed Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs, Arturo Valenzuela who told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday that this was not just a matter of resolving Zelaya’s expulsion from Honduras but that there also is a need to look at Zelaya’s effort to circumvent the Honduran Constitution and the efforts of Venezuela to interfere in Honduran internal affairs.

This is the message that the United States should have delivered on day one but Barack Obama circumvented the State Department. It has been Hillary’s leadership over the last two weeks that has moonwalked the Hondurans back from the precipice of crisis and set them on the road to a peaceful, legal resolution of the matter that will protect Honduras from the subversion of Cuba and Venezuela. Well done Madam Secretary.

From the State Dept. Web site:

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Larry C. Johnson is a former analyst at the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, who moved subsequently in 1989 to the U.S. Department of State, where he served four years as the deputy director for transportation security, antiterrorism assistance training, and special operations in the State Department's Office of Counterterrorism. He left government service in October 1993 and set up a consulting business. He currently is the co-owner and CEO of BERG Associates, LLC (Business Exposure Reduction Group) and is an expert in the fields of terrorism, aviation security, and crisis and risk management, and money laundering investigations. Johnson is the founder and main author of No Quarter, a weblog that addresses issues of terrorism and intelligence and politics. NoQuarterUSA was nominated as Best Political Blog of 2008.
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  • good analysis.Putin had bo for lunch.lol.

  • wbboei

    Back on Russia for a second. Lest we forget. He came, he saw, he screwed up badly in my opinion. Just ignore the hype and look at the facts.

    I have been a student and practioner of the art and science of negotiation for over three decades. Also, I have supervised subordinates in the exercise in that activity. I know what a good negotiation looks like, and yes, I know what a bad one looks like as well. As a general rule of thumb, you try to avoid bad result when the negotitiation is an important one. And, there are few negotiations which are more important than the one Bambi had last week with Putin. So how did the Messiah do in that meeting with Putin?

    Not worth a shit. On a scale of 0-10 from worst to best, I would give him no more than a 2. Putin handed bambi his head. What exactly did Putin do. He was all 10s: i) he controlled the agenda, ii) he lectured bambi on his improvident remark about having one foot in the cold war, iii) he gave Bambi the history lesson he does not have, iv) he convinced bambi that America needs Russia, but Russia does not need America, ergo bambi will have to deal on Putins terms, v) he put Bambi in a box by linking offensive and defensive weapon systems, vi) he used bambis weakness to signal to Ukranians that they cannot count on America, vii) he used bambis weakness to make Poland wish they had Bush back, and viii) when the short meeting was over, he walked out–no sitting around schmoozing. The clear subtext was this: Obama, I have more important things to tend to than sit here and rap further with you.

    Bambis best moment came when he told Putin he wanted Russia to be strong. His worst moment came when he set us up for a bad bargain whereby Russia would divest itself of cold war nukes which are degrading anyway, and in exchange he singalled a willingness to limit our offensive capacity (submarines, long range bombers, etc.) as well as the defensive shield eastern Europe wants. Worst of all he has no idea just how badly he got had.

    The bottom line is this: whether you like Putin or not you have to admire what he did here. He is a tough disciplined bargainer. He knows a rube when he sees one. He picked up on Bambis little ploy to separate Putin from the president he handpicked. And he kept bambi on the defensive. Oh bambi will go back to his entourage and paper over his mistakes. Big media will print that lie to the American People. But believe me none of what occurred is lost on Putin. He will continue to roll over bambi insofar as it suits his purposes. He smells weakness and all his old KGB instincts will compel him to capitalize on it. Wouldn’t you?

    • jbjd

      Agreed (except for the name calling).

    • jbjd

      wbboei, there’s a new post about Putin; you might want to re-post your comment up there.

  • NomNomNom

    Micheletti tried to amend the Honduran Constitution to allow Cordova more terms in 1985: only he wasn’t calling for a referendum (legal when Zelaya proposed it) he was calling for a change to the Constitution (treason).

  • Retired

    SoS Clinton is looking pretty counterrevolutionary with her Honduras actions. If Obama intends to keep his leftist revolutionary credentials with the Castros and Chavez, he will need to get rid of her.

  • Hillary is awesome – Obama should spend more time in Russia!

    I watched her Town Hall at the State Dept. today – it gives you an idea what kind of White House she will have after she

    1. cleans up the personnel problems at State;
    2. coordinates State and USAID;
    3. completes the qddr provisions and gets new laws made to protect the revisions;
    4. finishes devouring every brief she can find;
    5. trains her replacement whom she will name;
    6. finally turns on her kitten heel and walks out on him after a policy dispute in 2011;
    7. runs against him and WINS because everybody will have seen through him and because WE WILL BE RUNNING HER CAMPAIGN – AND WE NOW KNOW THE DIRTY TRICKS TO BLOCK!

    Thanks for the post, Larry.

  • morris1030

    Thanks again Larry for this post re: Hillary and Honduras. Edifying.