Friday, October 30, 2009

Honduras: sold out

They (the Americans) forced an agreement.

Zelaya is supposedly coming back into power for four months.

Tom Shannon did the dirty work, and then...
Backers hugged Zelaya after hearing the news and one asked him to autograph a white cowboy hat resembling the one the deposed leader always wears.

The hat had already been signed by the top U.S. envoy for the Americas, Thomas Shannon, who led a delegation to Honduras this week to pressure the two sides to resolve the crisis after months of diplomacy failed to break the stalemate.
Hope you like that job you've got, Tom.

You've worked *so* hard to keep it.

Which is good, because you couldn't get another job with your reputation right now, big guy... unless Soros is hiring... or Zelaya... he's got lots of money and friends right now...

More on this, with sources, at Fausta's Blog and La Gringa's Blogicito.


Personal Note: This is the voice of disappointment speaking. What we are witnessing is the death of the concept of "Truth, Justice, and the American Way"... which isn't just Superman's credo, but was a way of seeing what was right in the world. The American government didn't always strive to achieve it, but those of us who saw the universal nature of the ideals behind that saying knew that working toward them was what was right, even if it wasn't ever exclusively "American". Days like today show just how far from those ideals the current American administration has gone.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

New York Times and Reich, part 2

If you read this thread here at CompHyp, then you'll likely be pleased to see that on October 26th, the New York Times did finally print a version of the letter... except that it is actually a second letter written and submitted on the 21st.

They *should* have printed the original, but if Ambassador Reich is content with this publication (and he apparently is), then I shall leave it at that. It was nice to see that Mr. Dan Fisk got in his 2 cents on the original article as well... even though his letter sat since the 12th...

"...been treated in such a manner"

That manner being... detained and expelled.

The party doing the expelling... Mugabe's ZANU-PF run Security Services.

The party getting expelled... Manfred Nowak, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture.

Now this author is no particular fan of Professor Nowak, to say the least, but when he gets used as a pawn in the contest between Mugabe and the Movement for Democratic Change even he gets some sympathy.

Read all about it. It is just another example of how the "Unity Government" and the role of SADC in promoting said accommodation is a sham.

Honduras tries the ICJ route

They've filed a case at the International Court of Justice against Brazil for harboring M. Zelaya in their embassy in Tegucigalpa.

So far, Brazil sneers at the attempt:
Brazil said the case had no basis as the current government, led by Roberto Micheletti, was illegitimate.

"The de facto Honduran government has no legitimacy to lodge a lawsuit at the International Court of Justice," a Foreign Ministry spokesman in Brasilia said.
ICJ ruling are, on matters where both parties are not in concord as to filing the case, pretty much just beautiful words on clean paper. That said, anything that would make it less comfortable to be assisting Zelaya would be a win of some kind for Honduras.

Here's hoping for a quick provisional judgement.

HRes872: an attempt to Terror-List Chavez' Venezuela

It is only an attempt, but if this Resolution finds traction (and maybe even passes), then there is going to be some serious pressure to get a State Sponsor of Terrorism listing for Hugo Chavez' regime in Venezuela... and all the embargoes and financial sanctions that go with that.

About bloody time someone got out the hammer.

As made abundantly clear by Douglas Farah's recent testimony before the American Congress, the Axis-of-Evil has been on a recruiting drive and Venezuela under Chavez is now actually looking like a threat (to people outside Venezuela; they've been a threat to liberty at home for a long time).

What in Sam Hill... ?

One of my former instructors was a great proponent of the "stupid is more likely than malice" analysis of an apparently counterproductive course taken by some actor. The logic was that there are usually enough other signs of vile intent to confirm that as the cause of the action, and in the absence of those pure incompetence was a far more likely explanation for an action.

Yeah, I'll even ascribe to that as a general case.

So, when I find relentless counterproductive conduct by the U.S. State Department (and a certain NSC staffer) and an attempt by certain biased U.S. Senators to revise the truth about events in Honduras, I'd say its is time to make a judgement as to *WHY?* these acts of persistent idiocy are happening.

I'd like to hope that it is all because one political faction in the Obama administration, that one controlling Foreign Policy, is boundlessly incompetent... It would explain why they have misread Iran, mishandled the Bout extradition case in Thailand, stumbled publicly on negotiations with China and Russia, and generally upset most every alliance the U.S.A. is a part of...

...because *if it malice*, then some very, very bad things are happening.

So forgive me, Professor, but this time I will hope for stupid but plan as if it is malice. The cost of not assuming malice has become prohibitively high.



two more examples of the course being followed:

SecState Clinton in Pakistan, as observed by John Hannah (link via J. Hinderaker at Powerline).

An assessment of the U.S. role in the current IAEA negotiations with Iran, by Robert Kagan.

Things are *not* looking good, folks.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Angola Arms Case Convictions

Good News: there have finally been some convictions in the French trial of 42 individuals accused of participating in an illegal scheme that delivered French armaments to the government of Angola during the last part of the Angolan Civil War.

Bad News: of the four major convictions handed down, the two most punishing are six years imprisonment... on the two people who were being tried in absensia. Good luck serving those detention orders. Another got a suspended sentence... the one named Mitterrand. Gee, that's a shock, isn't it? Only former Interior Minister Charles Pasqua got hit with a jail term he is expected to serve... one year. That's nothing to sniff at, but not a big penalty either.

Ah well, at least the precedent has been set of being able to get convictions on Arms Trafficking / Bribery charges in modern France. Wonder if that means that the case of the French Frigate Scandal will ever be resolved (on the French side)?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Exporting the SM-3

Oh, that can't be much of a problem; the United States does choose to export a lot of its advanced weapons systems to allies (and occasionally to not-so-allied nations). The only stop sign on that road in recent times has been the F-22A Raptor fighter aircraft... which the Obama administration chose to cease production on rather than to extend manufacturing to allow an export market ...because that aircraft is deemed so highly sensitive that not even America's closest allies like Japan and Australia could be trusted to guard its secrets. (Don't even ask if the Israelis were in line to buy some.)


Japan is the co-producer of the Standard SM-3 Block 2A, the current American and Japanese naval Ballistic Missile Defense interceptor...

And since Japan has had a *no-weapons-export-to-anyone* policy since 1976, with a single exception put in place in 1983: sales to the United States...

...then there can't be a problem when along comes U.S. SecDef Robert Gates to ask Japan to export the SM-3 to third countries in support of the Obama administration's new "plan" for BMD in Europe, can there?

chotto matte (Jp: "wait a moment")

When you need our manufacturing to make part of a system, we're your trusted pal. As we then must trust you as well, of course we'll deliver the system to whomever you think should get it.

When we need the best fighter-interceptor available to replace a whole lot of aging aircraft *which by the way defend your bases here as well*, then we are unworthy of being trusted with the F-22A.

Given that being the current relationship, explain to me please *WHY* we should change our laws for your benefit again.


And they wonder back in Washington D.C. why various Defense negotiations go sideways.

Urgent Fury remembrance

It is Thanksgiving Day on Grenada today.

If you need a reminder as to why, one need only look back to this day last year here at CompHyp.

Operation Urgent Fury. 26 years ago.

As if all the problems were interrelated...

So many of the issues in the world are run together in the media that it almost begs doubt any time more than one of the terrible things happening out there keys into another of the troubles... but sometimes they do. This one shouldn't be a surprise, actually:
Ugandan rebels desperate for supplies attacked a camp for Darfuri displaced persons in south Sudan, killing five people, the region's army said on Saturday.
The reason why it shouldn't be a surprise is that during the years when the Lord's Resistance Army (L.R.A.) was spreading its war into South Sudan, the explanation as to why a "Ugandan rebel force" would be fighting Sudanese was that the North Sudan (Khartoum; the al-Bashir regime) was the primary supply path and patron of the L.R.A. in a ploy to prevent the South from having a secure rear-area.

After this year's less-than-successful campaign by several nations to corner and kill the L.R.A., the rebels have become a dispersed force with some of them in the dense Ituri Forest region of the D. R. Congo and others scattering into the Central African Republic's outlying territory along the Sudanese border.

It may well be that those latter forces are now in motion northward, intent on regaining a line of support (if not supply) in North Sudan-controlled Darfur.

...and that would bring Uganda's nightmare to the doorsteps of the already hard-pressed people of Darfur.


Mean-spirted Aside: One has to wonder if this will get al-Bashir another "gold star" from American Special Envoy J. Scott Gration and his negotiators.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The 'Root (26)

It is one of the things that has defined the last year for this author: coming to terms with the fact that there have been more years since some of the events that shaped (my) life and world view than (I) lived before they happened. Even ones I could only watch from afar.

Oct. 23rd, 1983

Beirut, Lebanon.



A previous post on this item here at CompHyp.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

"Negotiations with Russia will not be easy..."

Given the apparent tendency of the Hatoyama naikaku (spec. Cabinet; in usage, Administration) to think that everything ever done by previous administrations is fair game for a re-think... cf. U.S. Base negotiations and the Privatization of Japan Post, just to pick two obvious examples... was a joy to hear Maehara Seiji (S. Maehara), who holds both the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism portfolio and the State Ministry for Okinawa, the Northern Territories and Disaster Management, use the opportunity of a visit to the closest point of approach to the islands to say the truth:
"Historically, the Northern Territories are an integral part of Japan. It is literally an illegal occupation (by Russia) and Japan should keep saying so."
(Note on the linked article: The Islands of the Northern Territories were occupied over the course of August 18th and September 3rd of 1945... after the announcement of surrender. The article leaves that in doubt.)

S. Maehara also spoke about the coming round of negotiations with Russia on the sidelines of the November (see Edit, below) East Asia Meetings as "...will not be easy but we will do our best".

Hm. That sounds all too much like the Italy G8 summit sideline, which resulted in nothing. Why is there a vague sense of worry coming into play about now?


That would be because the guy back in '56 who negotiated the Joint Declaration was also named Hatoyama. Signed the letter under situational duress (over a thousand Japanese "internees" were still in Soviet hands in 1956), but that didn't seem to overmuch influence his role. That Declaration only covered restoring diplomatic activities, although it famously includes a promise by the Soviets to hand over two of the four Northern Territories "after the conclusion of a Peace Treaty".

How swell of them.

They want the Hatoyama of today to be as compliant as the Hatoyama of yesterday, and have said so:
Russia has already begun its approach to Hatoyama and his government, as evidenced by the prompt call on the prime minister by Ambassador Bely. Following their meeting, Andrei Nesterenko, spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, told reporters that Moscow hopes that Hatoyama "will make the right decision like his grandfather."
Did I mention that Hatoyama Kiichirou (K. Hatoyama), the son of Hatoyama Yukio (Y. Hatoyama; the current P.M.), is living in Moscow *now* as a student at University of Moscow?

It is either friendship or one heck of a potential duress item, and either would suit the goals of the Putin-Medvedev administration come negotiations time.

That vague sense of worry just got a whole lot less vague.

S. Maehara is probably going to have to go up against two Prime Ministers to win through on this.

...not easy, indeed.


*Edit: the East Asia meetings began late this week. Oddly, media reports here on Y. Hatoyama's meeting schedule do not mention any scheduled time with Russian representatives. There may be something in November that was conflated with the East Asia meetings in the previous reports.

Monday, October 19, 2009


...elsewhere for another day or so.

In the meantime, here's an open thread for any comments / topic suggetions since y'all didn't get one on Sunday this week.

Be well and safe, All.

Things should be happening again here not later than Wednesday.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The New York Times wrongs Reich

One of the pleasant parts of doing this weblog is the associations one makes, and the associations that then follow. Ambassador Otto J. Reich would be one of those associations-of-the-second-degree.

Now Amb. Reich is a proper gentleman, and that means well able to take care of himself in a dispute, but when he lets on to colleagues that he has been wronged then it is time for us to stand up for him. Now is just such a time.

The New York Times published an article on October 8th of this year that misrepresents an interview with O. Reich, to which he rightfully takes strong exception...

But five days after he wrote a Letter to the Editor, it seems clear that the NYT has no intention of actually answering his letter nor printing it. Fine. That is their choice. This is mine.

Here is the Letter to the Editor:
To The Editor,
The New York Times
Dear Sir:

The October 8 article by Ginger Thompson “Leader Ousted, Honduras Hires U.S. Lobbyists” is erroneous, misleading, and thoroughly misrepresents the lengthy interview I gave her. Through innuendo, it implies that I am one of the aforementioned “lobbyists” hired by the Government of Honduras, and that I am behind the Congressional “hold” on two Obama Administration officials. Those allegations are false, as I repeatedly told her.

Though she says that I claim to not have lobbied, Thompson cleverly implies otherwise by associating my name with some who have lobbied. In fact, my name is the first that appears to document the article’s hypothesis. Ms. Thompson is so determined to “prove” that I communicated my views to the US Congress, apparently in what she thinks is some nefarious manner, that she misreports. For example, she states “For his part, Mr. Reich sent his thoughts to members of Congress by e-mail” and cites the following: “We should rejoice that one of the self-proclaimed “21st-century socialist” allies of Chávez has been legally deposed by his own countrymen.”

This quote is an excerpt from an article I published in National Review Online on September 28, with Thompson’s selection in italics, as follows: “The U.S. had nothing to do with Zelaya’s removal, and it should do nothing to force his return. Rather, we should rejoice that one of the self-proclaimed “21st-century socialist” allies of Chávez has been legally deposed by his own countrymen.” I did not send this “thought” to any member of Congress, as she states; instead it was published and freely available online.

Thompson further states that “… Reich said he had used his connections to push the agenda of the de facto government, led by Roberto Micheletti.” I said no such thing! I did say I believe the Obama Administration policy is wrong and I explained my opinion. I have not supported the “Micheletti agenda;” I have only criticized my own government’s misguided policies.

All my testimony, op-eds, articles and media interviews are my own doing. No one directs me, no one pays me (in fact, these efforts cost me money, as they take considerable time from my consulting practice) and no one else reviews my statements before they are published. I told Thompson that I do this because I see it as the duty of a citizen in a free society to dissent from his government’s policies when his conscience so dictates.

Finally, I told Thompson repeatedly that I oppose Congressional “holds" on nominees since as a several-times Presidential appointee I have been the subject of three such delays - one by Chris Dodd and two by Jesse Helms. None of this was mentioned by her. Indeed, there is another false implication that I am behind the holds of State Department nominees Arturo Valenzuela and Tom Shannon. Fortunately, both of the nominees are personal friends are *and know these allegations are false.

All the above is on the record and I urge you to print it in the interest of journalistic objectivity.


Otto J. Reich
reproduced here by the expressed permission of Otto Reich Associates LLC, 16.Oct 2009. Editorial correction made at the * mark for clarity.

MDC Boycotts "Unity" Government.

This is good news in two parts for the future of Zimbabwe (Rhodesia), but it is going to be tough in the short run.

First came word that Roy Bennett has been allowed bail again... which at least keeps him out of Mugabe's ZANU-PF -run jails...

and then came word of the boycott:
Zimbabwe's opposition MDC said it would boycott the country's power-sharing government until sticking points have been resolved and a political deal is reached, sparking the biggest crisis since the administration was formed nine months ago.
Prime Minister (in name) and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai used some choice words in his announcement about the treatment that the "Unity" government has gotten from the Mugabe regime, too.

This also puts the pressure on South Africa's President J. Zuma and the SADC regional bloc to put some effective pressure on Robert Mugabe... which would be a first... because things like *this* are already being said:
Tsvangirai said if the new constitutional crisis escalated further, it would only be resolved by holding fresh elections under supervision of the United Nations and SADC.
Actually, that would be a very fine outcome in the long run.

The rub is that in the short run, there are too many ZANU-PF thugs hauling in too much money and power for them to go quietly into the night. Indeed, the chance that a new government with a new constitution behind it would take the entirely reasonable opportunity to run the thieves down and settle scores is real enough that the Kleptocrats won't go down without a fight.

Best be planning for that fight now. The day will come.

Gee... Maybe it *was* politicized...

From the "Gee... Maybe it *was* politicized..." Department comes this moment of clarity on the 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate on Iran:
U.S. spy agencies are considering whether to rewrite a controversial 2007 intelligence report that asserted Tehran halted its efforts to build nuclear weapons in 2003, current and former U.S. intelligence officials say.

The intelligence agencies' rethink comes as pressure is mounting on Capitol Hill, and among U.S. allies, for the Obama administration to redo the 2007 assessment, after a string of recent revelations about Tehran's nuclear program.
When data arrives that disproves a hypothesis in the competition matrix, that item is struck from the array. Basic Analysis 101.

The sad part is that from Day 1 the flaws in (at least the presentation of) the NIE on Iran were so glaring that it probably should never have survived pre-release. But there were people, and goals, aligned against continuing to allow the Bush 43 administration freedom of action against Iran at the time, and those actors won the day.

Knowing what I know about some of the people who were in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence office at that time, I was surprised they let that NIE out back then. Given that Thomas Fingar is now a professor at Stanford and Adm. J. M. "Mike" McConnell is a Senior Vice President at Booz Allen Hamilton, they are both out where some questions can be asked... and they should be... about whether they would be willing to "take a mulligan" on the previous assessment.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Cameroon Intervention Force... intervenes

...and did a very fine job this time, too.
Cameroon's military killed four pirates who had attacked a fishing vessel off the Bakassi peninsula, destroying their speedboat and seizing a stash of weapons, the Ministry of Defence said on Thursday.

Three other gunmen injured in the attack by Cameroon's rapid intervention force were taken prisoner and two others went missing, the ministry said in a release read over state radio.
This is a vast improvement over previous efforts by the Rapid Intervention Force against piracy and cross-border raiders. What a difference a year (and training, and regional cooperation) makes.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Something happening in Iran

What is not exactly clear, right now.

The rumor of the day ("Supreme Leader" Khamenei in a coma or dead) is one guess.


Whatever is happening is starting to be seen by its effect on the public in Iran. The bazaars are said to be closed today (Thursday) and that they will remain closed Friday (that is itself not too surprising; the day of the public prayer meetings).

There may be a succession crisis brewing. There may also be a move by the Ahmadinejad government to lock in its place in power. It could just be a moment of instability that will bring the "Greens" (the "Where is my vote?" Opposition) back out into the streets.

Keep an eye on this. Something is happening.


Update 15.Oct, early

Nothing official out yet... but no retractions from the unofficial sources either.


Update2 15.Oct

Okay... we have reports of a denial. The Iranian Embassy in Armenia gave a news site there a vigorous denial and made accusations of "slander".

Not exactly convincing, but it is a first.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mugabe's prosecutors move to indict Roy Bennett

The title almost says it all, as of today.

In Zimbabwe (Rhodesia), Roy Bennett of the Movement for Democratic Change party of Morgan Tsvangirai faces a motion to indict Wednesday on charges of "Terrorism".

As this comes to a head, expect there to be some serious doubts raised about the MDC participation in the "Unity Government"... which *still* hasn't stopped the land seizures and thuggery by Mugabe's ZANU-PF gangsters... and still trumps up charges against members of the opposition.

There is the small chance of a display of judicial independence putting the boot to these accusations. If so, bravo for the magistrate... but it could be a fatal act of independence...


This topic has been covered previously, at the time of the arrest, here at CompHyp.


Update 14.Oct

The indictment stands. Roy Bennett has had his bail cancelled and is remanded into custody pending trial. New bail is legally possible, but given the charges not likely anytime soon.

It is, after all, a political prosecution.


Oct 12th memorials

Two GWOT memorials came on the 12th, and both are worthy of your attention:

9 years ago, it was the U.S.S. Cole bombing. *Here* is last year's thread on that, with the roll call and links to photographs.

7 years ago, it was the Bali bombings in the Kuta tourist district. 202 dead, 240 injured in a triple bomb attack. They have been avenged, but the danger of J.I. (Jemaah Islamiyah) is still out there. The recent demise of Noordin Top is just the latest stage of the battle in Indonesia.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Weekly N&C -- Special Edition

He only was Koh-operating

There has been a little bit of a stir in the media since Saturday’s Op-Ed piece in the Wall Street Journal by U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R, South Carolina) regarding his fact-finding trip to Honduras last week… while most of what he tells of is simply the situation as it stands politically between the United States government and the Government of Honduras, one part has gathered attention:
In a day packed with meetings, we met only one person in Honduras who opposed Mr. Zelaya's ouster, who wishes his return, and who mystifyingly rejects the legitimacy of the November elections: U.S. Ambassador Hugo Llorens.

When I asked Ambassador Llorens why the U.S. government insists on labeling what appears to the entire country to be the constitutional removal of Mr. Zelaya a "coup," he urged me to read the legal opinion drafted by the State Department's top lawyer, Harold Koh. As it happens, I have asked to see Mr. Koh's report before and since my trip, but all requests to publicly disclose it have been denied.
Hm. That’s new.

Were there to be a legal opinion guiding the U.S. DeptState actions in this crisis, it would certainly be of note. Moreover, given well-presented legal arguments by such scholars as Miguel Estrada that the Government of Honduras acted fully within its Constitution in removing former-President Manuel Zelaya from office (although his then forcible exile was not), the opportunity to compare and contrast, if not contest the DeptState opinion would be exceptionally insightful as to why the Obama administration has taken the otherwise-difficult-to-explain course of action that it has to date.

Senator DeMint has not been able to see the “Koh legal analysis and Honduras Constitutional Report” as referenced by Ambassador Llorens, or even confirm its existence, he states. Well, this author has never let such little things as difficulty get in the way of doing his research… and out went the calls to some friends and old associates to see if a copy could be found.


Current lists of the nuclear permission codes are less closely held secrets than the Koh opinion, apparently.

But, in a wonderful moment of someone thinking through what it all meant *and telling me*, the entire matter became almost moot: It is a red herring. It may in fact be a ploy by Amb. Llorens perpetrated to deflect the Law Library of Congress Report on the Honduran Constitutional Law Issues regarding the removal of M. Zelaya from office.

Here’s what we do know:

The U.S. government response to the Honduran arrest of M. Zelaya was keyed off of a telephone call by the Zelaya regime’s Foreign Minister Patricia Rodas to the American Ambassador in Honduras, Hugo Llorens, claiming a violent overthrow of the government and all manner of abuses upon her person (none substantiated to date, by the by).

Within one hour of that telephone call, Dan Restrepo (Western Hemisphere advisor to the Obama National Security Council) was in action, directing the response. Within hours, he also had the Organization of American States queuing up an emergency meeting, which was then held scant hours later. This was followed by a media round up call by Restrepo to pre-selected favorable media to whom he laid down statements. (Notably, neither have those statements of June 28th held up to what evidence is out there, nor have subsequent statements by D. Restrepo and P. Rodas’ to the OAS and the media, been verified by any U.S. DeptState source. Many are simply unverifiable.)

Anyone notice time in there to get Harold Koh on the job to issue a legal opinion to guide DeptState’s course?

I didn’t think so.

This has been D. Restrepo’s show from the get-go; one that he went to a fair amount of trouble to keep out of the public eye for the first weeks of the situation, going so far as to insist on being “Administration Official #1” in those media briefings on background. It has only been since the Zelaya re-appearance and sequestration in the Embassy of Brazil in Tegucigalpa that D. Restrepo’s name has come out much at all… He showed up at the Americas Conference in Miami the first of this month and was tapped for an intererview by Andres Oppenheimer of the Miami Herald (the Herald was a co-sponsor of the conference, by the way). In that, the line taken was that “the President” calls it a coup.

That may be true now, but it very likely wasn’t so on day one.

It is also exceedingly likely that there was *no* legal opinion by H. Koh in hand on day one either.

Again, from one of those willing to talk to me:
Besides, Koh was asked for a legal analysis in June and again in July and released nothing to the Hill- ever. State Dept promised reports and 6 xxx said they were "too busy" and would get to it one day...
I’ll wager there is one now… but seeing the date it was issued is almost as important as the position it enumerates.

So why did Ambassador H. Llorens say such a thing to Senator DeMint?


It may well be that he thought he could sandbag a freshman Senator with a grand total of 10 years on Capitol Hill (Congress, 3 goes, before being elected to the Senate). His Foreign Affairs Committee staff is still pretty new at things, for example.

It may be that H. Llorens is desperately searching for any cover that will help him keep his job. He’s a hold-over, not an Obama appointee. One indication of this is that he’s been seen trolling around Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R, FL-18) begging support during the Congressional Delegation to Honduras… playing the fellow-Cuban-American card… and his being reminded in reply (paraphrase) “Fidel Castro also claims to be Cuban”…

The determined effort of those pleading the “I need to keep my job” argument also applies to any number of the regulars from DeptState involved in this Honduras matter. A surprising number of excuses are being made, privately. But there are others…

Senator John Kerry made it abundantly clear in his efforts to block the DeMint delegation from going to Honduras that any cooperation by DeptState for that trip was simply not going to happen. That DeMint managed to elude the blocking effort and get approval by other means actually does the first-term Senator credit, by the way. The entire pro-Obama faction in the Senate was lined up against his going.

So… to sum this all up:

Yes, there is reportedly –as stated by a sitting U.S. ambassador- a legal opinion out in DeptState land somewhere written by H. Koh regarding the removal of M. Zelaya from office by the Government of Honduras.

What it says, if its existence is ever confirmed, is of little importance. *When* he said it matters.

Because only by nailing down as a clear fact that an Advisor on the National Security Council with a history of undermining and playing for the other team was winging matters of state, playing on his own highly-placed status, for his own political constituent purposes (and those of his friends in far-away places), with neither deference to all the information readily available nor a constitutional role in setting policy for the State Department (that authority rests in the Presidency, via the Secretary of State), can the entire story of how the Obama administration ended up on the wrong side of the Crisis in Honduras begin to be told.

…and that is a story that needs to be told.


End Notes:

All footnotes are embedded as links in the text.

Private sources are known to this author, but choose to remain anonymous (for good reason).

The assertion as to Dan Restrepo’s “history of undermining and playing for the other team” specifically refers to his partisan acts rendering himself unsuitable for employment on the House Committee on International Relations by acting against the interests of then-Chairman Benjamin A. Gilman and the Committee at the behest of Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott. Citation: Letter of February 20th, 1996, from Congressman Gilman to Congressman Hamilton (D. Restrepo’s employer) detailing the malfeasance and requiring his removal from Committee activity. Result: Quiet exile for Mr. Restrepo.

Fair Disclosure: This author is no fan of Parliamentary Diplomacy… the act of a representative of the legislature running off to engage in their own diplomatic efforts. I am against it when it happens in the U.K., in the U.S., and even here in Japan. The business of diplomacy is that of the Executive. I am only willing to cut Senator J. DeMint some slack this time because (a) He proposed no diplomatic initiatives of his own on his trip, it really was “fact-finding”; and (b) He is on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, including a place on the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on International Operations and Organizations, Human Rights, Democracy and Global Women's Issues. Both the Democracy matters and the role of the OAS in this Crisis are within his purview.

Sunday Afternoon Push

It is Sunday Afternoon somewhere, after all...

Here's your place to start something of your own interest. This thread is left open to comments for folks to make their own fun or leave messages for me about breaking news events. The usual rules still apply: play nice.

This isn't all for today, though. I have something big enough to be The Weekly N&C, but rather time-sensitive (relates to a matter from Saturday's news cycle), so you'll be getting a Special N&C in just a little while.

Thank you as always for coming here!

Friday, October 9, 2009

For *Doing* What?

The Nobel committee passed over Morgan Tsvangirai and the other 203 also-rans...

...but *this* almost qualifies as "You have got to be kidding me":
The Nobel Committee said he was awarded it for "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples".

The committee highlighted Mr Obama's efforts to strengthen international bodies and promote nuclear disarmament.
Then again, they also gave the award to J. Carter in 2002...

(yes, there were 205 nominations this year, a record, and as always most were politically motivated placements.)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Our Turn

Looks like it is going to be a wet and miserable week around here...

Japan gets its turn at typhoon season, and it is another big one.

Here in Tochigi we are rather far inland, and well screened by mountains along the approach, but we'll get buckets of rain as the storm breaks up.

Folks out in the middle-country, Nagoya and points just southwest of there, are going to get hammered. Here's hoping all that disaster preparedness practice pays off.

Nizeyimana arrested, sent to the ICTR

This has been a long time coming...

A Government of Uganda spokesman says Rwanda's former intelligence chief Idelphonse Nizeyimana was arrested Sunday in Uganda.


Here's his profile (WikiP citation; please note links there to sources); a look at that might give you an idea why this is important.

Report Out on Russian Dam Accident

It is one heck of an indictment, too.
Outlining a report on the causes of the Aug. 17 accident at the Sayano-Shushenskaya plant in southern Siberia, Rostekhnadzor director Nikolai Kutin described it in chilling detail. Part of an overstrained turbine unit weighing 1,500 tons snapped off its restraining bolts and sailed into the air, he said, unleashing flooding, short circuits and wreckage that crippled the plant and doomed dozens of workers in seconds.

While the direct causes were essentially technical, he said, bad decisions stretching years back set the stage for a catastrophe that could probably have been avoided.
A 140 page report goes into most every detail of the disaster that caused the deaths of 75 workers. Here's the media summary report.


...the finger-pointing at Anatoly Chubais should be taken with at least a cautionary pause. The Putin-Medvedev-run Kremlin machine has hung a number of things on Chubais to deflect public criticism of the government from back in the "privatization" time in Russia. The question is not "did he get rich by playing the system back then?"; the question is "was his leadership party to the negligence and mismanagement that led to this disaster?", and that remains to be proven.


This item was first posted here in August, with the news of a massive accident at RusHydro's Sayano-Shushenskaya power station.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Philippines Typhoon adds to disaster

Thankfully, it seems to have avoided a direct hit on the Manila metro area, instead brushing by to the north, but given the sheer size of the storm it is likely that secondary flooding will add to the disaster already present.
Officials had feared rain would spark fresh floods in Manila since reservoirs and dams around the capital are full and the sewage system is inundated with mud and rubbish brought by last week's deluge.

"Our relief work slowed down because we placed our troops on standby for possible rescue operations in case of floods," said Lieutenant Colonel Ernesto Torres, spokesman of the national disaster agency.

"But the typhoon was hardly felt here."
If that is all, then wonderful. Rescue/Recovery efforts in the Manila area can go on, and new resources as they arrive can be tasked to the north of Luzon where the latest damage is pretty severe.

*Rumor* has it that the Reagan Carrier Strike Group of the U.S. Navy is likely to be diverted to provide aid now that this storm has swept through. That would be a good thing.

...because this is shaping up to be a bad autumn in Southeast Asia and Oceania.

Nigerian Amnesty

It is on, but will it hold?

Here's hoping. As of today's reports,
Militant commanders Ateke Tom and Farah Dagogo, whose fighters have mounted many of the attacks on the oil industry in the eastern Niger Delta, led gunmen from their camps in the mangrove creeks of the Niger Delta to the oil hub of Port Harcourt.

President Umaru Yar'Adua has offered all gunmen in the Niger Delta an unconditional pardon if they surrender their weapons by Sunday.
One more leader and his men should come in shortly. The numbers said to have disarmed are in the hundreds. However:
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) said on Thursday it had encouraged Tom, Dagogo and other commanders to step aside for the safety of their families.

Government Tompolo, who commands thousands of fighters in the Niger Delta, is the last known militant commander with links to MEND that has yet to surrender.
That's the kicker. If the main force doesn't abide by the amnesty, then this is mostly for show. The militant followers are not being detained or in any way prevented from going back into the bush under other leaders, either.

I'd like to believe that this is a first step toward a regional peace. I will believe it when I see it happen.

Gothic Serpent anniversary.

Yes, I know I missed some very important ones back in August/September while I was obliged elsewhere... but be that as it may, here is the first of October's days of memorial:

Gothic Serpent, as memorialized here last year.

16 years, now.

...and the job still isn't done.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Will "No" stand?

It is voting day in Ireland for the second try by the E.U. to pass the Lisbon Treaty. Ireland remains the only E.U. member state to put this version of the centralization-of-power-in-Brussels to a referendum, and the last time, it went "No" by a margin of ~7%... in European politics, that kind of margin made it "Hell No".

But never let such little matters interfere with the dreams of the Eurocrats. If it wouldn't pass on the first go, make them vote again.

The BBC has it that "Yes" will win this time.

Time for the Irish to save civilization, again, and make the Beeb look bad in the process.

Vote No on the Lisbon Treaty.


Update 3. Oct

Aw... RATS.

The final numbers are not yet in, but Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Brian Cowen's government is claiming victory for "Yes".