Iran And Honduras; a shameful double standard

The double-standard applied by most of the world’s leaders, including Canada’s and America’s, responding to political unrest in Iran and Honduras respectively over recent weeks, is dismaying.

After an estimated 40 million hand-marked ballots in last month’s Iranian elections purportedly got counted in the first 120 minutes after the polls closed, before a landslide victory was declared for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, puppet mouthpiece for that country’s clerical thuggocracy, most diplomats, government leaders and the mainstream news media proceeded as if those election “results” were believable fact rather than audacious fiction.

U.S. President Barack Obama tap-danced around the issue for a week while amateur video cyber-smuggled via Twitter and YouTube documented massive popular rioting and brutal crackdowns by Iranian security forces on the streets of Iran, before finally issuing some measured and ineffectual criticism of the goings-on, reportedly only after prodding from his more realistically-grounded Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but it was way too little, too late.

On the other hand, neither Obama nor apparently anyone else held back from piling on to the government of Honduras, after that country’s congress ordered incumbent leftist President Manuel Zelaya deposed and sent into exile, appointing Roberto Micheletti as interim leader until new elections can be held.

Zelaya’s ouster happened June 28, the day he had scheduled a controversial constitutional referendum, over objections from his own party and a Supreme Court ruling that it was illegal, that would have asked voters if they wanted an election in November to be held in conjunction with the next presidential election, on whether to rewrite Honduras’ constitution. Zelaya hoped to remove the limited tenure rule, thus facilitating his retention of the presidency.

That was too much to swallow for Honduran legislators, smacking of the behavior of Zelaya’s boon buddy – Venezuela’s megalomaniac strongman Hugh Chavez, who is, incidentally but not coincidentally, a pal of Iran’s Ahmadinejad and former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro who, having seized power himself in a coup 50 years ago, disingenuously predicted that Latin America would be swept by a wave of military coups if Zelaya is not returned to power .

The Western general media dutifully characterized the actions of Honduran authorities as a – shudder – “military coup,” even though the Honduran military could be assumed to be acting legally and in good faith, sanctioned by the authority of the Honduran Supreme Court and Parliament, in order to pre-empt President Zelaya’s attempt to remove constitutional obstacles to his becoming president for life.

Canada’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Peter Kent issued a statement condemning what he called a “coup d’état,” thus putting Canada uncomfortably on the same side of the fence as Hugo Chavez, who rattled his sabres and threatened to bring the Honduran government down. Splendid company we keep.

Shame on the Harper government. At least Kent later recommended that Zelaya “delay” his planned return to the country. saying the “time is not right.” To his credit, Kent had also previously criticized Zelaya’s proposed referendum, and Ottawa has not, at this writing, announced suspension of aid to Honduras, Canada’s largest development assistance recipient in Central America.

As for Canada’s Official Opposition, Liberal Foreign Affairs Critic Bob Rae unequivocally condemned the Honduran government’s actions, which he also characterized as a “coup d’etat,” sanctimoniously declaring “The ousting and detainment of President Manuel Zelaya this weekend is a serious blow to the democratic process.”

Plenty of shame to go round, it seems.

Meanwhile, in stark contrast to his pussyfooting around the Iranian debacle, President Obama summarily declared Honduran legislators’ decision to banish Zelaya “not legal,” suspended military ties with Honduras and warned that $200 million in U.S. aid could be cut off, prompting President Micheletti to observe that “nobody, not Barack Obama and much less Hugo Chavez, has any right to threaten this country.”

The UN passed a resolution, alarmingly by acclamation (not one country objected), demanding that no government recognize any Honduran administration other than Zeyala’s.

The double-standard is audacious. How can these Western leaders straight-facedly advocate vigorous diplomatic action on the Honduras file but justify doing nothing effectual to support the 80 million Iranians whose votes were abrogated so clumsily and brazenly?’

I’m not sure what they could do in terms of action, but at least they could say something more than parroting hazy platitudes about “democracy.”

Presumably starry-eyed idealist Obama really does imagine that “we can all just get along,” and that some sort of accommodation with Iran’s clerics and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will be attainable, oblivious to the reality that even if he did get something on paper, it would be worthless, since Mahmoud and the mullahs can be counted on to lie and cheat as usual, the stolen “election” being a prima facie exemplar.

Charles W. Moore is a Nova Scotia based freelance writer and editor. He can be reached by e-mail at


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