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October 30, 2009

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My first reaction was "idiot" is probably a little strong, and then I saw the author. This was not a good issue for conservative ideologues.

What do you think of the all-but-inevitable charge that Obama and Hillary and co. could have brought the whole episode to a close sooner? If he'd sent envoys in August, do you think that the situation would have worked out the same, or were the last several months a necessary period for both sides to worked their way up to an agreement?

Good question. I honestly don't know. It is possible (maybe even probable) that greater U.S. pressure would have resolved things earlier.

But even if that's true, why would Washington have wanted to put more pressure on? Internationally, we would have run the risk of seeming like a bully. Domestically, conservatives would have screamed just as much. More importantly, there was nothing wrong with simply letting the clock run out with the election, given the ambiguity of the situation and the fact that Micheletti, for all his stupidity, was not looking to set himself up as dictator.

Until the rest of the hemisphere both responded strongly and made it clear that it would not accept letting the clock run out, there was no reason for Washington to act.

Once those two things changed, Washington did act, and strongly.

Won't change the optics, as you point out, but who would bring such an accusation against the United States? Latin American governments seem unlikely to do so, and U.S. conservatives almost certainly won't. No?

D'oh! Chavistas will accuse the United States of acting too late.

I'm not sure what the proper political response to that should be. The honest one, though, is that there was no reason (even from a Honduran POV) to actively oppose Micheletti until the rest of the hemisphere independently lined up behind that position.

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