Something else to worry me.

January 26, 2006

In the Jerusalem Post today, Binyamin Netanyahu described the Hamas win in the Palestinian elections the establishment of a Hamastan. I don’t think that the disaster here is that a terrorist organization has achieved a majority position in the Palestinian government; Arafat’s PLO had its roots in Black September and Arafat advocated the destruction of Israel through 1988… and a new intifada in 2000.  The real disaster here is that a terrorist group was democratically elected. Bush has maintained the position that free people will elect leaders friendly to the Western world that don’t like blowing things up. Unfortunately, that assumption is incorrect in this situation. In fact, some of the news reports that I have heard today suggest that even Hamas did not expect to win a majority. My gut feeling is that a say in government will cause Hamas to be somewhat more pragmatic, but it’s going to be a real-time experiment. It may be harder for Hamas to be rebellious now that they are an authority figure with responsibility for real people who elected them. If they kill Israelis, they can expect a full scale war from the neighboring Israeli government. I’m still suspicious that the Gaza withdrawal was a huge concession to allow an excuse for a crushing, definitive strike on Palestine if bombings resume. But I’m more worried about a potential nuclear exchange between Israel and Iran. Unlike Iran, I don’t think we will have to worry about Hamas seeking WMDs to let loose in their own backyard. After all, Hamastan is at stake now. I’ll be in Jerusalem in March, so I’ll let y’all know what I hear from the folks there. 

This post is now linked to Mudville Gazette via their Open Post.


5 Responses to “Something else to worry me.”

  1. Jayne Says:

    I’ve never been comfortable with the assertion that, given a democratic process, all peoples will elect leaders friendly to other democratic powers – you’ve seen the irony in that as well. 🙂 People vote their values, whatever those are; one reason Democrats don’t have a majority in this country is their insistence on sheltering issues, rather than developing a full-fledged and consistent worldview. Given that assumption, the Palestinian elections are simply a voice of people tired of feeling powerless. They’ve chosen a leadership that takes action, and while that may be an unwise choice, it is not without precedent.

    Hamas has the ability now to legitimatize their policies, but they also have much more to lose should things go wrong.

  2. TF6S Says:

    I agree with Jayne. The central tenant regarding regime change does not automatically assume that democracy mellows the radicals. It is true that in most cases that does tend to occur, but democracy is not an end, freedom is. The Palestinian people are hostage to an ideology of death, self-denial and delusion. They think they can find Islamic Utopia by wiping the Jews off of the earth. In the past, we didn’t know if this was how the people felt, or if it was just the bullies with the guns. Now we know.

    I don’t find this to be the disaster, in the sense that it deligitimizes our efforts in the Middle East, that it seems, but is certainly is bad news. It is bad, because the only way this “conflict” is going to be resolved is through violence. Now, if and when Hamas let’s the suicide bombers fly, it is an act of war that can result in full retaliation, versus an illegitimate rogue militant group with a few axes to grind.

    I’ve had a sense of dread, which my blind-hope for “peace” outweighed for a long time, that “peace” will only be found after a lot of bodies are littered across the Holy Land. There is a storm brewing, and it isn’t a question of “if,” it is a question of “how bad.” We’ll never see peace in the Middle East until the Islamic Fundamentalist delusion is confronted headon with reality. They think they want a fight, but in the end it is going to be something they will deeply regret.

    I have a few more thoughts here, but I don’t want to hijack your comments section. Good discussion.

  3. The Colossus Says:

    Well, the difference is now that when Hamas attacks Israel, the Palestinian government can’t play dumb about it. I think the situation has moved to one of transparency rather than hypocrisy. Than, in itself, is probably a good thing, for now it becomes a lot harder for the U.S., Europe, the U.N., etc. to subsidize the Palestinian state. Hamas will have to knuckle under in a hurry or see their welfare check go away.

    I’m inclined to think they will make the wrong decision, attack Israel, and face war. War of the “gloves off” variety.

    After they are destroyed, Fatah or someone like Fatah can try to pick up what is left of the rubble. A shame. Barak was willing to give them virtually everything at Oslo; Arafat should’ve taken the deal and asked for help in breaking Hamas. He may have suffered the same fate as Michael Collins in Ireland, but hell, he only had a few years left to live anyway — seems like history would’ve remembered him more fondly as the founder of the Palestinian state than as the man who squandered the chance.

    Democracies choose wisely, but only over the long term — multiple elections act to correct the excesses of past mistakes. That is the genius of democracy — wrongs can usually be righted in the next election. But done once, it is never a 100% guarantee of wisdom or prudence.

    Like the line in the last Indiana Jones movie, “They chose poorly.” I hope that they live to choose more wisely in the future. I regret though, that they may not.

  4. Jayne Says:

    Unfortunately (or cynically), I don’t think that having Hamas in government is going to provide the unequivocal justification for war that Israel could take advantage of. Hamas will very likely maintain their “cease-fire” in public, and there’s no way to tell whether their private sentiments echo their public ones. If they disavow any knowledge of an attack, the Israelis may choose not to believe them, but they will not receive support for any actions they take in retaliation to attacks which “may-or-may-not” be Hamas-sanctioned.

  5. JK Says:

    Sharansky in “The Case For Democracy” said,

    “Freedom’s skeptics must understand that the democracy that hates you is less dangerous than the dictator who loves you. Indeed, it is the absence of democracy that represents the real threat to peace.”

    I might tend to agree. It seems that the elections were fair and that the people were represented. If this assumption is true, isn’t this situation far better than a Fatah that hid its true intentions (while receiving our aid) and a dictatorship that can exploit a minority extremism rather than a majority extremism? Doesn’t extremism water itself down with a requirement of consensus?


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