The recent Honduran coup allowed the Obama administration to send an incredibly clear message to American ideological colonies in the Western hemisphere (and beyond).
The message is simple:
"we will allow you to develop organically and gradually towards oligarchic capitalism where the state plays a much larger role in economic/social management. If you choose to follow the gradual legalistic path of Hugo Chavez, then we will not side with reactionary oligarchic forces within your borders nor internationally isolate you nor try to economically destabilize your country. This is of course because we are also now forced by economic necessity and strategy to use the powers of the state for economic and societal growth. Siding with like minded reformist leadership in Latin America allows us to co-opt Chavez's allies and preserve American leadership in the region. We hope to once again become the model society for South America. Only now we encourage a system where the state is at least co-equal to the power of the rich. If you want to develop in that direction, it's now alright without fearing violence and mass suffering."
It was telling that Manuel Zelaya waited barely a week since Obama's election to begin to push the process of constitutional modification of term limits. Zelaya, a playboy oligarch overseeing the third poorest country in the Western hemisphere, couldn't count on John McCain to side with him in case of a coup. If anything, the replay of the attempted coup on Chavez (that we're seeing now in Honduras) might have happened even sooner had McCain gotten into office. It would have been unimaginable for McCain to publicly side with Hugo Chavez in international condemnation of oligarchic use of force against Zelaya. Obama on the other hand, does not need to pander as much to the nationalist, poorly educated, and militarist Palin block during his first term. He can thus support Zelaya (like most of the world does), be on the side of international opinion, and present himself at home as being on the side of rule of law.
What we see happening now is the confusing situation of a lapdog's master sending it mixed messages. As we've seen with international ripple effects from Gorbachev's reforms (from the imperial center outwards to the governments of rabid lapdogs like East Germany), it is enormously destabilizing to satellite nations to have such mixed signals. Whether the coup fails or succeeds, it'll embolden social movements that want to mimic Chavez or derive economic advantage from his economic block.
The only hope of the anti-Zelaya interim government is to convince high ranking generals in US defense department to put pressure on Obama so he doesn't economically penalize the coup plotters. They likely have plenty of high level supporters within American establishment. If the political crisis in Honduras drags on, we should see plenty of conflicting disinformation thrown at the American public by government elites. We already see that happening with some media using data from Mitofsky International (same organization that drew suspicion from John Kerry exit polls and its blatant bias towards Yeltsin in his close victory over communist Zyuganov in 1996) showing that Manuel Zeyala had pre-coup approval of 25%.
Of course ideally, Obama would want the South American reformers to join up with him rather than Chavez to create a more people friendly oligarchic Latin capitalism under American supervision. Obama cannot afford to wait too long in starting the process. Dollar slipping as a reverse currency and threat of regional currencies presses for urgent changes in America's backyard. It's a dangerous business than McCain/Brezhnev style preservation of regional status quo. Gorbachev has shown that such efforts (by an ideological empire with many dependencies and protectorates) are inherently risky and potentially very destabilizing.