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The trouble with Hamas
Posted by: McQ on Friday, January 27, 2006

I've been doing a lot of watching and reading as concerns the Hamas victory in the Palestinian territories. Frankly I'm a bit surprised that so many are surprised they won. Given the violent history of Palestinians it doesn't at all surprise me that they won.

I've been an outspoken critic of Israel's withdrawl from Gaza, and I think that too was a factor in the Hamas win. Couple that with the death of Arafat, a veritable icon among Palestinians, the ineffective leadership of Abbas and the well-known corruption of Fatah, and, well, who or what is left?

Well what is left is a real dilemma for both the US and Israel.

President Bush has said repeatedly that we don't deal with terrorist organizations, and he has also repeatedly labeled Hamas as a terror organization. So what's a president to do?

Yesterday, Bush tried very hard to put a positive spin on the whole mess:
I remind people, the elections — democracy is — can open up the world's eyes to reality by listening to people. And the elections — the election process is healthy for society, in my judgment. In other words, it's — one way to figure out how to address the needs of the people is to let them express themselves at the ballot box. And that's exactly what happened yesterday. And you'll hear a lot of people saying, well, aren't we surprised at the outcome, or this, that, or the other.

If there is corruption, I'm not surprised that people say, let's get rid of corruption. If government hadn't been responsive, I'm not the least bit surprised that people said, I want government to be responsive.

And so that was an interesting day yesterday in the — as we're watching liberty begin to spread across the Middle East.
The second paragraph, by the way, works here as well as abroad, but I digress.

"We're watching liberty begin to spread across the Middle East"? Are we?

Daniel Pipes reminds us of a little history which might argue against that assertion as it pertains to Hamas:
An increasing number of voices are calling for Hamas to be recognized, arguing that the imperatives of governance would tame it, ending its arch-murderous vocation (it has killed about 600 Israelis) and turning it into a responsible citizen.

Even President Bush made this argument in early 2005: “There's a positive effect when you run for office. Maybe some will run for office and say, ‘Vote for me, I look forward to blowing up America.' … I don't think so. I think people who generally run for office say, ‘Vote for me, I'm looking forward to fixing your potholes, or making sure you got bread on the table.' ”

The historical record, however, refutes this “pothole theory of democracy.” Mussolini made the trains run, Hitler built autobahns, Stalin cleared the snow and Castro reduced infant mortality — without any of these totalitarians giving up their ideological zeal nor their grandiose ambitions. Likewise, Islamists in Afghanistan, Iran and Sudan have governed without becoming tamed. If proof is needed, note the Iranian efforts to build nuclear weapons amid an apocalyptic fervor.
So we're on record saying we won't deal with the now 'legitimate' representatives of the Palestinian people, and, I think, for sound reasons.

I ask you, what should be the approach of the US toward a government run by a terrorist group? Should we stick with our guns and refuse to deal with them until Hamas is out of power? My guess is that is precisely what Israel intends to do?

Good, bad, dumb, cutting-our-nose-off-depsite-our-face?

Your opinion is cordially solicited (and MK, that means talk about this subject, not whether the moon is made of green cheese and it's Rove's fault).
 
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Not quite a similar situation but the UK dealt with the IRA in an effort to bring peace to Northern Ireland. Was it worth it? I’m not sure.

I find it difficult to see how ’we’ can do business with Hamas unless they back down from their position towards Israel. Lets see what lies behind the triumphalistic rhetoric that will now emerge from Hamas and see.

how do we support democracy in the middle east and then refuse to do business with a democratically elected government. I think that is easily justified here in the west where we recognise Hamas for the terrorist organisation it is. We recognise them as legitimate, we just refuse to work with them unless they concede on certain issues. How so much more difficult to persuade the man in the street in the middle east where, outside of Israel, there is less recognition, or at least admitted recognition, of Hamas for what it is.

I have no solutions to this, the problem is, I don’t think anyone else really does either.
 
Written By: Kav
URL: http://livingrealworld.blogspot.com
I ask you, what should be the approach of the US toward a government run by a terrorist group? Should we stick with our guns and refuse to deal with them until Hamas is out of power? My guess is that is precisely what Israel intends to do

Israel is going to take a wait and see approach. Strangely, I think this can actually be a net positive for Israel. Hamas really stepped in it this time. If they launch attacks, or even sponsor attacks, or even be THOUGHT to be sponsoring attacks, that’s not terrorism- that’s WAR. And in a situation like that, even Jacques and Kofi couldn’t find a way to make Israel look bad (let alone stay their hand) when they struck back with crushing force. The whole cause of Hamas’s existence is to destroy Israel, and now they can’t do anything about it!

Now lets add to that Hamas various woes....a potential civil war with Fatah supporters (cue me laughing hysterically), a world that won’t be so eager to deal with them and a populace that actually expects them to GOVERN- heh. Very rarely does the winning party find itself so neutered.

As for the US, regardless of what Bush says, we’ll deal with Hamas provided that Hamas makes all the right noises about disarming, letting Israel exist, etc etc. But it should be a zero tolerance policy, and I’d be miserly with the purse strings for foreign aid.

 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
PS, I’d just like to add that finally, the Palestinians have nothing to lay blame on. They have Gaza. They have a "legitimate", elected government of their own choosing. And Israel no longer has Sharon leading them.

Wherever this goes from here, the consequences are laid at their feet.
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
We should not deal at all with a government which is dominated by terrorists unless they give up terrorism, and state clearly that they want to live in peaceful coexistence with Israel. We’ve already given billions of dollars in aid to the PA, even though Fatah themselves have refused to change their charter stating that their goal is to wipe Israel off of the map. Remember that Fatah is the party of Arafat, and the "Palestinian Authority" is just the old PLO in drag. All those billions have accomplished nothing, and things have gone from bad to worse.

Hamas is an Islamist group. They’ll not give up their goal of annhilating Israel any more than Al Qaeda will give up their goals. So, I don’t really see what’s going to change the calculus here unless Hamas gets voted out of power, and real democratic leaders take their place. If that ever occurs, it’ll take decades, because the Palestinian people are being perpetually radicalized.
 
Written By: Eye Doc
URL: http://aceoftrumpblog.blogspot.com
Try this perspective. From the Pali standpoint the intransigence and violent approach of Hamas works. It was violent uprising that gave birth to Madrid, Oslo and the PA. That process then bogged down over conditions, agreed conditions, implicit conditions, conceded conditions, etc. That stalemate was ultimately broken by more violent uprising culminating in Israel running away from Gaza and, potentially, more of the West Bank.

We can posture all we want about "not recognizing" Hamas but that is basically moot. They do not seek victory through recognition but recognition through victory. Their violent strategy has worked wonders in this regard and the voters have just rewarded them handily for it. Expect more of the same. It is up to Israel whether or not they will continue to try playing the same futile game
 
Written By: D
URL: http://
Freedom is on the march.
Or Hamas...
Whatever.

Perhaps instead of talking to them, we should invade and depose the brutal regime that is Hamas.
Then we could set up the democracy that we want.

Is Chalabi still available???
Guess not.
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
Hamas really stepped in it this time. If they launch attacks, or even sponsor attacks, or even be THOUGHT to be sponsoring attacks, that’s not terrorism- that’s WAR.
I had not though t it through enough to get to that point Shark, but I believe you are right. That should be interesting to watch play out. If they assume the proper role of government, they could lose support of the extreme wing of their party. What then?
 
Written By: meagain
URL: http://
Here is what will happen.


1. Hamas will cave in to international pressure and say they will renounce terrorism and recognize Israel. Behind the scenes, they will continue plotting and scheming.


2. Hamas will work out some sweetheart deal with Israel. Israel will honor their part of the deal, but Hamas won’t.


3. Israel will start to back out of the deal, or change the terms of the deal. This is when Hamas will return to their old ways of terrorism.


4. The international community will condemn Hamas.


5. Return to step 1.


How many times do we have to see this storyline before we figure it out?

 
Written By: EdMcGon
URL: http://politicsandpigskins.blogspot.com/
Not quite a similar situation but the UK dealt with the IRA in an effort to bring peace to Northern Ireland. Was it worth it? I’m not sure.
Indeed different, negotiations were ongoing with Sinn Fein. The IRA was specifically NOT included until they had proven they would follow through on their armistice. While we all know the IRA ran Sinn Fein (witness recent news stories of Sinn Fein leaders quitting the IRA "command council"), officially they were separate groups. One working politically, one via terrorism.

I seem to have the same crystal ball as EdMcGon. Witness a "deal," witness Hamas reneging and Israel saying "FU" then watch Hamas blow up some civilians and then see Europe condemn Israel for not following the agreement while ignoring Hamas’ part in the debacle.
 
Written By: Ken
URL: http://
3. Israel will start to back out of the deal, or change the terms of the deal. This is when Hamas will return to their old ways of terrorism.


4. The international community will condemn Hamas.


5. Return to step 1.


Not this time....this time:

4. Israel declares a war of self-defense and attacks Hamas and destroys them.

 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
A general problem with democracy promotion in highly corrupt areas is that people inevitably turn to religious extremist parties in an attempt to get rid of corruption. The same trend is showing up throughout the world — indeed, it is one of the big waves that fundamentalist Islam is riding right now. I assume that it works this way because when moderate parties are corrupt, the corruption is seen as part of their very moderate, compromise-inclined nature — something that vigorous, principled, extremist leadership would not tolerate.


Seen from this point of view, a victory for Hamas or someone like them was more or less inevitable. It is part and parcel with the success of religious parties in the recent Iraqi elections. Corruption plus democracy equals religious-extremist rule.


Hamas is in a bit of a bind, though. Having won on the corruption issue, they are stuck in a position where they lack majority support for their (to them) more major agenda of blowing up Israelis. What mattered to the voters (who, if polls are a guide, by a majority favor negotiation with Israel, but who voted on the corruption issue) is not what matters to the electoral core of Hamas (who, judging by their speeches, reject negotiation with Israel, and regard corruption as a secondary issue).


Political parties in these circumstances typically undergo a certain amount of confusion and chaos; we can expect the same from Hamas. If they manage to hold together as a party at all over the next couple of years, the next election is likely to be a disaster for them (unless, of course, Israel does something silly to unify the Palestinians behind them...).


So even if Hamas’s victory is a setback, it is a very temporary one. Even if Hamas follows a hard-line pro-terrorism approach, it is only likely to remain in government for a couple of years. Patience is indicated.

 
Written By: Grant Gould
URL: http://
yeah im hoping shark is right. At least (for right now) Hamas is honest about their goals and aims. I think it boils down to, will they stay militantly true to their goal of wipping israel off the map, or will they become the Fatah and PLO, talking diplomacy while supporting terrorists?
 
Written By: Chris
URL: http://
Political parties in these circumstances typically undergo a certain amount of confusion and chaos; we can expect the same from Hamas. If they manage to hold together as a party at all over the next couple of years, the next election is likely to be a disaster for them (unless, of course, Israel does something silly to unify the Palestinians behind them...).
This is an important point. Essentially standing on the sidelines and following their own agenda is completely different than being the main focus and governing.

I have a feeling, Grant, that you may be right about how it will look for Hamas a couple years down the road. My guess is they’re in over their head.


 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
While Hamas has been fighting for a one state solution for ages, they have the problem today that they have a proto-state that they are now responsible for. They can either make peace with Israel, let Israel impose a settlement or choose war. On their own, of course, they will lose a war.

Will any of the countries that will sacrifice to the last ream of paper, as they talk about how awful Israel is, actually put troops in the field against Israel? I’m not certain but I doubt it, Egypt and Jordan are out of the game today and have no apparent desire to return. Lebanon doesn’t really have anything to offer. Syria barely manages to repress its own people, though it might be willing to fight if someone else, say Saudi Arabia, pays all the bills. The front line states aren’t much of a risk for Israel today unless Israel obliterates the Palestinians in war. Iran would probably be willing to do something, but they have neither the right place nor the right time for it.

I think that leaves Hamas in the position of going with peace, whether they much want it or not. The PA is broke, their military cannot win, their rhetoric is hollow. If they are just Fatah, Part Two, they lose. They can make peace with Israel because no one is in the position to undermine them today. They must because the alternative is unilateral peace, imposed by Israel, which will leave the Palestinians in even worse shape than they are today.

I’m not guaranteeing that Hamas will be rational, but both domestic and international pressures drive Hamas into the unexpected role of peacemakers and there is no apparent reward to them for continuing to fight the existence of Israel. I’m not nearly as pessimistic as the first crop of government and media comentators, though that doesn’t mean things must work well or that Hamas will do what is in their best interest.
 
Written By: freelunch
URL: http://
I’ve been doing a lot of watching and reading as concerns the Hamas victory in the Palestinian territories. Frankly I’m a bit surprised that so many are surprised they won. Given the violent history of Palestinians it doesn’t at all surprise me that they won.

I’ve been an outspoken critic of Israel’s withdrawl from Gaza, and I think that too was a factor in the Hamas win. Couple that with the death of Arafat, a veritable icon among Palestinians, the ineffective leadership of Abbas and the well-known corruption of Fatah, and, well, who or what is left?
Once again you have adopted the simplistic right wing narrative regarding a subject that is far more complex. Probably the most important reason Hamas won was that it has a long history of efficiently providing social services, including medical clinics, schools, day care centers and other welfare services. All politics is local, after all. Of course it’s not surprising you would fail to mention this factor, as it does not fit the typical winger good guy/bad guy narrative. This is something the mainstream press repeatedly fails to mention as well, and one would never expect to hear it from the Bush administraiton. It’s much easier to characterize the Palestians as violent and leave it at that.

Indeed, it is precisely because of the winger narrative that it came as a shock to many people that Hamas won. See, to mention the good that Hamas does good would be to humanize Palestians, and god forbid anyone should do that.

As for not negotiating with Hamas, Bush sounded like a complete idiot yesterday. One of the things he said is that we don’t negotiate with political parties that have armed wings. This has to be one of the most dishonest things he has ever said, and that is saying something. Right at this very moment, Americans are dying in the streets of Iraq to keep numerous parties in power that have armed wings. So we won’t negotiate with parties with armed wings, but we will sacrfice American lives for them? Can Bush get more hypocritical?

And remember the cold war? It was the stated goal of the Soviet Union to destroy American society as we know it. And did we negotiate with the Soviets? Of course. Indeed, over the last several years we have been negotiating with the North Koreans. So is Bush’s point that North Korean regime - dictatorial in the extreme - is worthy of negotiating with, but that Hamas - democratically elected into power - is not? If so, Bush simply has no moral compass whatsoever.

But then we knew that a long time ago, didn’t we.
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
Probably the most important reason Hamas won was that it has a long history of efficiently providing social services, including medical clinics, schools, day care centers and other welfare services.
Yeah, and the mafia was known for doing some good deeds and helping the needy in various neighborhoods it essentially controlled. That didn’t mean they wouldn’t break your legs. It also didn’t mean they could govern in an international setting with entirely different demands, responsiblities and pressures.

Building a clinic or two and providing a few social services for those who support you doesn’t equal the responsiblity for governance of the whole (to include those who don’t support you) and there is absolutely nothing about those activities which necessarily protends success in that regard.

This is a whole new ballgame for Hamas, completely different. Now they have to try and contol Fatah factions, and if you’ve been paying attention to the news today, we have Fatah riots in the Gaza strip.

Talk about role reversal.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
yeah im hoping shark is right. At least (for right now) Hamas is honest about their goals and aims. I think it boils down to, will they stay militantly true to their goal of wipping israel off the map, or will they become the Fatah and PLO, talking diplomacy while supporting terrorists?
I think you may not be connecting a few dots
1. Iran and Syria have signed a mutual protection pact
2. Iran’s nuclear ambitions are advancing virtually unchecked.

Try this scenario on for size. Hamas gets caught sponsoring a series of bombings in Israeli territories. Israel retaliates by retaking the gaza and the west bank. Iran and Syria jump in and help their Palestinian friends, Iraq becomes substantially less stable and suddenly the US Military is in the middle of shooting war they didn’t want.


I think we need to consider potential unintended consequences before we wish for Shark’s scenario to come true.
 
Written By: Curt
URL: http://
What will probably happen is Kadima will be even more likely to win the upcoming Israeli election, and the process of unilateral disengagement will continue. The West Bank security fence will be completed, and there will essentially be a "Palestinian" state with borders that Israel has drawn.

Any terrorist activity will continue to be met with a military reaction. If the Palestinians ever become serious about peace, the borders of the Palestinian state can be manipulated. But, since the fence will probably wind up giving about 95% of the West Bank to the Palestinians, there’s not much more that could be done land-wise except giving East Jerusalem to the PA.

And, the Palestinians will continue to stew in a pot of their own making, suffering economically etc., while blaming the evil Jews for the tribulations they face. Except that fewer people will be suckered into believing that falsehood since they freely elected a terrorist group as the majority party in the PA.
 
Written By: Eye Doc
URL: http://aceoftrumpblog.blogspot.com
Once again you have adopted the simplistic right wing narrative regarding a subject that is far more complex. Probably the most important reason Hamas won was that it has a long history of efficiently providing social services, including medical clinics, schools, day care centers and other welfare services. All politics is local, after all.
Once again you have adopted the simplistic left wing narrative regarding a subject that is far more complex.

Money quote, IMHO, from Khaled Mashal:
"We don?t have to make concessions to satisfy Israel," Mashal said this week, "Our position now is not to negotiate with Israel. We will not kowtow."
And, regarding the "medical clinics, schools, day care centers and other welfare services" argument that has to be reckoned against this face:
With infinitely more support, personnel, Sitzfleisch, than the Jihad, with more ideological independence, and a network of free medical clinics and free schools, it almost makes you wonder about the "Death to Israel" and "Death to America" and the second graders they dress up and parade around in fatigues and miniature M-16?s and garlands of plastic grenades.
The terrorist sentimets and tendencies are not even hidden from view. It is only through willful ignorance that they are dismissed.

And, McQ. Let’s see if Fatah and the Democrats can teach each other a thing or two about being the "loyal opposition". :-D
 
Written By: D
URL: http://
I think we need to consider potential unintended consequences before we wish for Shark’s scenario to come true

Just to clarify, my preferred scenario isn’t for a war, it’s for Hamas to realize that the next attack they carry out isn’t terrorism, it’s an act of war.

And I really can’t see Iran or Syria "helping out" their palestinian friends in a fight. The last thing either of them needs is to get into a shooting war with us. Iran especially, needs to bide time, and Syria needs to stay off our shit list.

I agree, Iran is always a wildcard but they won’t attack anyone for benefit of the palestinians.

 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
I ask you, what should be the approach of the US toward a government run by a terrorist group?
The US government is no more legitimate than the new Hamas government; there is no legitimate approach to take.
 
Written By: John T. Kennedy
URL: http://no-treason.com
McQ,
Yeah, and the mafia was known for doing some good deeds and helping the needy in various neighborhoods it essentially controlled. That didn’t mean they wouldn’t break your legs.
In that, how is the mafia different in principle from your government? While leg breaking may not be the current fashion, your government does threaten those who don’t keep up with their payments with lethal force, does it not?
 
Written By: John T. Kennedy
URL: http://no-treason.com

 
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