A Diplomatic Coup for the Obama Team.

Pun intended. Remember when President Manuel Zelaya (above, in the hat) was ousted in Honduras? The Supreme Court and the military combined to eject Zelaya when he proposed a controversial referendum designed to extend his power, leading to chaos, violent street protests, and waves of concern across Latin America. While Zelaya himself was no mean shakes -- and later indulged in some weird anti-Semitic comments -- the Obama administration joined with the rest of the international community to condemn the coup and work for a diplomatic solution. Now they've succeeded after dispatching a team of diplomats to the country, and Zelaya will return to office and finish out the remainder of his term, which ends in January.

It's a symbolic gesture, but it's an important one. If the election in Honduras goes smoothly -- doesn't every foreign-policy article these days include the sentence, "If the election in ________ goes smoothly"? -- then Honduras' democratic system will have been reinforced without harsh sanctions, which would mainly affect the people of the state, or military conflict. Affirming democracy in Latin America is a positive step, especially coming from the United States, which does not have a particularly good history in that department. While the White House's domestic opposition will no doubt call this deal a sham or attack the president for helping restore a controversial leader to power, this outcome will likely improve inter-American relations, and that is a win for a relatively green foreign-policy team.

-- Tim Fernholz

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