- The Washington Times - Monday, September 7, 2009

IRRATIONAL WORDS

“There is an obvious compromise available to end the Honduras crisis - or there was, anyway, until Secretary [of State Hillary Rodham] Clinton rejected it on Thursday,” Elliott Abrams writes at www.weeklystandard.com.

“Honduras’s ejected president [Manuel] Zelaya saw the secretary and apparently persuaded her that the outcome of Honduras’ next elections must be rejected. On what basis? None was stated, and no logical basis exists,” Mr. Abrams said.

“The next elections will be entirely constitutional and held on time; and the term of office of the ousted Zelaya would end naturally and constitutionally when a new president is sworn in, in January. The candidates were selected before the current crisis began, and all the parties - including Zelaya’s Liberal Party, one half of Honduras’s essentially two-party system - are participating.

“There is no reason whatsoever to doubt that the election can be monitored by international observers (and we could have demanded more of them than usual) and fairly conducted. Honduras’s vote for a new president on November 29 was the obvious way for everyone to dig out of the current mess without hurting the Honduran people and without damaging Honduras’s democratic institutions.



“But it was rejected [Thursday] by Clinton and the Obama administration. The State Department’s spokesman said that ‘Based on conditions as they currently exist, we cannot recognize the results of this election.’ The irrationality of the words is striking: based on conditions today, we can’t recognize the results of a free election more than two months from now on November 29, even if everyone thinks it’s free and even if Zelaya’s party participates, and even if his term would constitutionally be over anyway.”

MOMENT OF TRUTH

“During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama called Afghanistan a ‘war of necessity.’ Now we’ll see if he means it,” Kansas City Star columnist E. Thomas McClanahan writes.

“He faces a pivotal decision. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, has turned in a report calling for a shift in strategy, one that implicitly requires significantly more troops. The mission, says McChrystal, is protecting the population; the war can’t be won solely by offensive operations against the enemy.

“McChrystal is expected to request up to 40,000 more troops later this month,” the columnist said.

“For Obama, the political environment is becoming more treacherous by the week. His job approval ratings are dropping. His health care initiative is in deep trouble. The cap-and-trade energy-tax bill is stalled in the Senate. Voters are fed up with bailouts and reckless federal spending. The $787 billion stimulus package passed in February is highly unpopular.

“Meanwhile, support for the war in Afghanistan is falling fast. A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll found that for the first time, a majority of voters don’t think it’s worth fighting.

“The anti-war left is planning a fall campaign against the war. Some members of Obama’s own party are wavering. Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin says it’s time for a ‘flexible timetable’ for pulling out U.S. troops.”

JOE AND HUGO

“As Joseph P. Kennedy II contemplates a race to reclaim the Senate seat held by his family for nearly half a century, his most formidable obstacle may not be a Massachusetts politician, but a political leader some 2,000 miles away: President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela,” Boston Globe reporters Michael Rezendes and Noah Bierman write.

“Over the past four years, Citizens Energy Corp., the signature nonprofit founded by Kennedy in 1979 as a political launching pad, has grown from a local charity serving 10,000 Massachusetts homes a year into a national effort delivering free fuel to 200,000 households in 23 states,” the reporters said.

“And Kennedy, a former U.S. representative, has relied almost exclusively on Chavez, a vociferous critic of the U.S. government, for that growth.

“Since 2005, Citizens’ 877-JOE-4-OIL campaign has been sustained by the oil fields of Venezuela. Chavez, who controls the industry there, has delivered crude oil at no charge to a Citizens affiliate, which has resold it and used the money to pay for oil deliveries to America’s poor. In the past two years, Citizens has been given 83 million gallons of crude by Chavez and sold it for $164 million - money used to fund almost its entire philanthropic mission.

“Now, as Kennedy considers stepping into what is certain to be a contentious contest for the state’s first U.S. Senate vacancy in more than 25 years, he will also almost certainly have to consider how his stewardship at Citizens would play in a campaign. In addition to forging increasingly close ties with Chavez and Citgo Petroleum Corp., an oil company controlled by the Venezuelan government, Kennedy has used the proceeds of Chavez’s donated oil to fund millions in advertising for the heating-oil charity - $16 million over the last two winters alone. Those ads, in turn, prominently feature Kennedy, often personally delivering Chavez-funded oil to needy recipients.”

‘MERE RHETORIC’?

“Quick question: How far does Hugo Chavez‘s rhetoric have to go before Western leaders, above all those of the United States, stop dismissing it as ‘mere rhetoric’?” David Hazony writes in a blog at www.commentarymagazine.

“I’m just curious because, well, he sure sounds like a real, serious enemy in league with the West’s most dangerous foes. In a telephone interview with Venezuelan TV from Tehran on Friday, he declared that Iran is ‘a true strategic ally, a staunch ally’ of Venezuela. Whom is this alliance directed against? In Chavez’s view, Tehran and Caracas are ‘facing the same enemy, which is the U.S. empire and its lackeys. And we will defeat the empire and its lackeys.’

“And lest anyone think there’s no Israel angle in all this - there always is - Chavez has not hesitated in the past few days to brand Israel as a ‘genocidal’ regime. ‘The state of Israel has become a murderous lackey at the service of imperialism,’ he said. ‘It’s a genocidal government. I condemn that Zionist government that persecutes the heroic Palestinian people.’

“Convinced yet?”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes .com.

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