just whose side is he on?

The Week, NRO - Abandoning longstanding U.S. policy, the administration has not only negotiated with a network of secret jihadist cells operating in Iraq (instruments of Iran, which is duplicating the Hezbollah model it has used in Lebanon); it has now released outright one of the terrorists responsible for the murder of five American soldiers in Karbala back in 2007. The release was a transparent effort to trade the terrorist for five British civilians abducted by the same network. But in exchange, the network (which had suggested the hostages were alive) released only the corpses of two, and threatened to kill the rest unless more of its detained operatives were freed. The administration has thus signaled to terrorists that they stand to win valuable concessions by abducting Americans and their allies — even if they kill them.

At first blush, the news from Honduras sounds like a sad return to Latin America’s past: A democratically elected president has been exiled by the military. But the Honduran soldiers who escorted Pres. Manuel Zelaya from his home were acting to protect their country’s democracy, not to trample it. Moreover, they had the full support of the Honduran Supreme Court, which had rejected Zelaya’s bid to hold a referendum on constitutional reform. The proposed referendum, illegal without an act of Congress, aimed to launch a “constituent assembly” that would draft a new constitution. Zelaya’s ultimate goal was to extend or abolish presidential term limits, mimicking the example of Hugo Chávez and other Latin American populists. Hondurans rightly feared that such a maneuver would set their country on the path to Chávez-style authoritarianism. When the Supreme Court rebuffed him, Zelaya defied its ruling. Along with a large group of followers, he ransacked a military post and seized millions of referendum ballots. While it is always unnerving to see gun-toting officers arrest a president, the move against Zelaya was not a conventional “military coup,” but an affirmation of democracy and the rule of law, both of which Zelaya had flouted.

It sure is nice to have missile defenses when you need them: In anticipation of North Korea’s test of a long-range rocket over the Pacific Ocean, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates ordered interceptors to Hawaii. This allowed President Obama to go on television and tell Harry Smith of CBS News that Americans in Honolulu and elsewhere are safe from North Korean mischief: “Well, first of all, let’s be clear. This administration — and our military — is fully prepared for any contingencies.” Obama nonetheless plans to slash missile-defense funding by about $1.4 billion in the 2010 budget. Ground-based interceptors in Alaska, the Airborne Laser program, and the prospective basing of a small system in Eastern Europe — all developed with an eye toward countering Iran and North Korea — could suffer. The next time the United States needs missile defenses, it may not have them.

Every year, the National Endowment for Democracy gives an award, and every year the winner or winners get some presidential attention. This year was somewhat different. NED honored five Cuban democracy activists. Three of them are in prison; two of them are out, for now. Needless to say, no one was able to travel to Washington. But the honorees had a representative in Washington, the sister of one of them — and NED’s requests that President Obama meet with her went unanswered. It was the first time in five years that the U.S. president did not grant such a meeting. Only when the Washington Post pestered the White House was a presidential statement written and released — just as the NED ceremony was starting. In an editorial, the Post asked, “Why doesn’t President Obama have time for Cuba’s pro-democracy opposition?” Answer: The administration is determined to warm up to the Cuban regime. Barack Obama’s election was supposed to cheer people around the world, and it has. Too bad so many of them are dictators.

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