Contact With Hamas Is The Wrong Solution Posted by: McQ
on Friday, January 09, 2009
Reports are out claiming that the incoming Obama administration will eschew the former policy of isolating terrorist groups and instead seek low level engagement with them. Well, that's not really what the reports say - they don't refer to talks between a terror group and the US government at any level. In fact, other than stating that Hamas has been "designated" as a terrorist organization, and implying that's a mistake, Hamas and terror are barely linked (at least in the report cited). At worst they're referred to as a "radical organization".
The incoming Obama administration is prepared to abandon George Bush's doctrine of isolating Hamas by establishing a channel to the Islamist organisation, sources close to the transition team say.
The move to open contacts with Hamas, which could be initiated through the US intelligence services, would represent a definitive break with the Bush presidency's ostracising of the group. The state department has designated Hamas a terrorist organisation, and in 2006 Congress passed a law banning US financial aid to the group.
The Guardian has spoken to three people with knowledge of the discussions in the Obama camp. There is no talk of Obama approving direct diplomatic negotiations with Hamas early on, but he is being urged by advisers to initiate low-level or clandestine approaches, and there is growing recognition in Washington that the policy of ostracising Hamas is counter-productive. A tested course would be to start contacts through Hamas and the US intelligence services, similar to the secret process through which the US engaged with the PLO in the 1970s. Israel did not become aware of the contacts until much later.
My question, given what we know of Hamas and its refusal to negotiate at all with Israel, how, at any level, the Obama administration believes it can change attitudes like this:
Obviously peace is better than conflict. And I understand the belief that negotiation is always the best first step.
But you have to have two willing partners in negotiations. You have to have a willingness on both sides to work toward a common goal and do the necessary compromising to achieve it.
Hamas has never, ever, shown the first inclination toward any of that.
Anyone - where in Hamas's charter, words or actions has it ever provided even the first inkling it is willing to negotiate? What is it willing to give up or repudiate?
Hamas has specifically said it would negotiate nothing with Israel. Ever. You'd think by now even the most rabid disciple of the Neville Chamberlin school of negotiation first, last and always would realize that dealing with Hamas is a dead-end.
Secondly - given Hamas's intransigence, both past and present, why should Israel negotiate anything with them? Hamas has proved to be an implacable enemy whose stated mission is the destruction Israel. What is negotiable there? Israel unilaterally gave up Gaza to the Palestinians. Instead of that being perceived positively as a move toward peace, Hamas regarded it as a sign of Israeli weakness and stepped up rocket and mortar attacks by 650%.
Is courting a terrorist organization, even at a low level, worth risking our relationship with Israel?
Lastly - if Obama wants to work on peace in the region, why not concentrate the American effort where it might bear some fruit and eventually point to a solution that could help neutralize Hamas's hold on Gaza? Work with the PA and the West Bank Palestinians toward some sort of accommodation with Israel. That, when negotiated and implemented, would starkly point out what organization is the problem in Gaza. And then the PA could become the instrument to take back Gaza from the terrorists instead of either Israel or the US.
But contact with a terror organization, even at a low-level, only accomplishes one thing - it legitimizes them. And that legitimization will only harden their intransigence, not soften it.
Alas, reality doesn’t answer to right wing talking points. Hamas is there. It won’t be defeated, and it can’t be wished away. However, a mix of military pressure (perhaps like Israel is now using) and discussion can potentially lead to a way that Hamas will do like Egypt and the PA did before it — move from being radically anti-Israel to accepting a two state solution. I mean, it’s not like what’s been used until now is working. Once Israel’s effort to wipe Hamas out fails, look for a multiple level strategy: a) continuation of anti-terror and anti-radical incursions (smaller scale); b) efforts to internationalize the conflict to bring in outside forces; c) diplomatic efforts with some in Hamas who may be willing to moderate (our intelligence agencies probably have a sense of who those might be). But while it may not be "politically correct" on the right to ever talk with enemies who are really nasty, it sometimes is prudent and brings a positive result.
Terrorist organizations whose mission is to destroy a state... no.
I am all for dialogue with those that are not engaged in terrorism. To expect anything other than lip service from Hamas is naive. They do not want a Jewish state in the Middle East. No amount of talk will change that. They must be dealt with and moderates (not Hamas) engaged.
Carter talked with Hamas. Look at his success. That’s the template to follow ;)
If talking with Hamas ever makes sense, it is after they are ripped a new one, and they feel the pain and are ready to rethink things. At this point that isn’t the case, and for the next President to open dialoge with Hamas is downright stupid.
Now, it may or may not make sense to ever talk to Hamas, but at this point it clearly doesn’t.
I don’t recall the IRA’s goals being the utter destruction of Britain nor did they ever promise never to negotiate anything with Britain.
In fact, I believe they created a political arm so they’d have the ability to do just that if the opportunity arose. And while the Troubles certainly had a religious flavor to them, it was nothing like the depth of fundamentalism the Islamic terrorist groups display. The antagonists in No. Ireland were at least of the same faith.
Hamas, btw, just got through kneecapping everyone in it’s former political arm (which, I believe, they’d previously disavowed anyway). Not a good indicator of ’like’ circumstance.
Any buffoon who agrees with negotiation with Hamas should read this interview by Terry Milewski of the Canadian Broadcastign Corporation (aka the Communist Broadcasting Corporation by right wing bloggers in Canada), definitely no friend of Israel.
But Mahmoud Zahar isn’t going to evolve. For the ideologist of Hamas, whose son died in an Israeli air raid, the goal is the extinction of Israel. And he is unmoved by the world’s rejection.
So there you go ... extinction .... hard to negotiate from that.
Personally I don’t think talking to Erb makes sense, and not because it isn’t "politically correct."
Like Hamas, Erb is here and he can’t be wished away, but it’s basically a waste of time, since all he does is regurgitate left-wing talking points, flog his blog, ignore history, context, and substantive debate, do grievous harm to strawmen, and cackle "LOL."
There was a time when Erb at least went through the motions of debate, but ever since he threatened to leave for good, he now only show up to drop a uni-paragraph bomb or two, then swoop back to his blog lair to revel in his imagined superiority.
No, I’m suggesting that since Erb is basically trolling Q&O, we stop paying attention. No real debate is taking place. IMO, Erb stopped interacting in good faith long ago, if he ever did.
We get riled up and expend far more effort refuting his posts than he puts into lobbing them over the transom. Erb gets to feel important and superior to have all this attention expended upon him, then he goes back to his blog to talk about how foolish cons and neocons are.
Actually, Don and others, your responses tend to be predictable — ridicule me, don’t deal with the arguments, and talk tough about beating hamas, or something, as if talk could produce reality.
Yet there is no evidence that Hamas can be defeated in a clear military style. And there is no evidence (indeed a lot of contrary evidence) that the Palestinian problem can be solved militarily. Yours is a position based on emotion, and your style of refutation is emotional — insult, ridicule, but don’t engage. That’s because your argument and position is weak.
Also, note that I did not say just "talk to Hamas," but focus on finding moderates that our intelligence services know about, mix opening with continued military operations (not as intense as those now underway), and create a multi-leveled approach to changing conditions. Now, I know you think that my meager qualifications of having an MA in International Studies from Johns Hopkins and a Ph.D. in International Relations from Minnesota means that I’m utterly clueless on world affairs — I obviously bribed my way to my degrees, and have faked my way to a tenured teaching position. I know you think I’m simply an effective con-man, an academic Madoff. At least, that’s how you act like you think — but your style of response: avoid the argument and then hide behind insult — suggests you KNOW that I have quite extensive knowledge of these issues, my perspective is different than yours, and I am pretty good at defending it. So, rather than try to engage, you hide behind ridicule and emotion. That’s fine. But I see through you.
Also remember that according to Erb, a person’s degrees don’t confer legitimacy to the argument (unless we’re talking about Erb I guess), and that insults bounce off him because he is rubber and you are glue.
And he was so on target about what would happen in Iraq. I almost forgot about that nugget.
No, I’m suggesting that since Erb is basically trolling Q&O, we stop paying attention. No real debate is taking place. IMO, Erb stopped interacting in good faith long ago, if he ever did.
I reply in a tit for tat fashion. You show respect and I’ll show respect. You focus on the argument, and I will. I think we have very different perspectives; I find that interesting, you apparently don’t like that. C’est la vie — different perspectives exist. I mean, I remember here reading that Palin would bring McCain a victory, Rev. Wright would destroy Obama’s chances, and a whole bunch of stuff which I thought really absurd. When I posted that, I was attacked for trolling or being over the top. But I was right.
Actually, Don and others, your responses tend to be predictable. You always make fun of me. I don’t understand why. I’m so good and pure and smart and honest. You dense righties could learn so much from me, if you would just give up your Enlightenment ways and embrace the holy writ of post-modernism. Instead you ridicule me, don’t deal with the arguments, and talk tough about beating hamas, or something, as if talk could produce reality. The only people for whom talk can produce reality are we wise leftists who are trained in the magical ways of post-modernism and how to produce a narrative.
There is no evidence that Hamas can be defeated in a clear military style. Just like there was no evidence that the resistance in Iraq could be defeated in a clear military style, and don’t start up with that success of the surge stuff, just don’t start. Especially you, JWG.
Nope, there is no evidence (indeed a lot of contrary evidence) that the Palestinian problem can be solved militarily. Those Israelis might as well give it up. They can bomb and kill and assassinate all they want, but Hamas fighters will just keep materializing out of a magic funnel in Gaza, much like the magic funnel in Iraq that continually spawns resistance fighters there. And, just as I can state categorically that Iraq was a complete, irredeemable failure, any effort by Israel will also be a failure. I don’t know why those Jews insist on defending themselves, seeing at how hopeless their situation is.
Yours is a position based on emotion. And mine never is. Stop laughing! I just feel that the Palestinian situation is intractable, and that’s not an emotional response, so stop laughing, I said! And my reaction to Iraq wasn’t emotional either, so, darn it, stop saying that. And your style of refutation is emotional — insult, ridicule, but don’t engage. That’s because your argument and position is weak, and has nothing to do with the fact that engaging me in argument is like trying to shovel fog. No, I told you that I’m good and smart and honest, and you dense righties just can’t deal with my brilliance. Won’t you please engage me? If you do, I’ll come back and refute you in an infinite loop that we can both enjoy. You can continue to bring up your so-called facts (which we know don’t really exist because of post-modernist philosophy) and I can keep repeating my talking points. continuously rephrasing them in new ways and occasionally bringing in new talking points from brilliant, moderate, objective analysts like Juan Cole. I would really, really like that, because if you take me seriously that way, it validates that all my training to attain godlike powers of political science was useful. And it’s not because I have some weird obsession about trying to prove my self-worth by lecturing you dense righties! I told you, stop saying that!
Also, note that I did not say just "talk to Hamas," but focus on finding moderates that our intelligence services know about. I’m sure those moderates are there. I mean, sure, most of the moderates are in Fatah, and they’re getting slaughtered by Hamas right now, but still. Moderates are always the solution to everything. That’s why I’m a moderate. Really. All we wise leftists are really moderate.
We can mix opening with continued military operations (not as intense as those now underway), and create a multi-leveled approach to changing conditions. Yes, and Israel must take the first step by scaling back their attacks. And Hamas has no responsibility to scale back anything until an agreement is reached because they are poor victimized brown people. And that whole statement about multi-level operations is not a fatuous, trite observation that doesn’t really mean anything, so stop saying that!
Now, I know you think that my meager qualifications of having an MA in International Studies from Johns Hopkins and a Ph.D. in International Relations from Minnesota means that I’m utterly clueless on world affairs. The fact that I continuously get things wrong about military history probably makes you think that, but you;re wrong. And I know you think I obviously bribed my way to my degrees, and have faked my way to a tenured teaching position. Well, I didn’t. I kissed ass for years to get where I am. It’s not necessary to bribe other academics to get degrees. You just have to kiss a lot of ass and produce reams and reams of soporific prose that doesn’t really say anything. But going through that process is what gives we wise leftists godlike powers of political science because we have credentials and you don’t, and I know you dense righties are jealous of people like me.
I know you think I’m simply an effective con-man, an academic Madoff. Well, I’m not. I’m a completely ineffective con-man, at least judging by how little I am able to convince you people.
At least, that’s how you act like you think — but your style of response: avoid the argument and then hide behind insult — suggests you KNOW that I have quite extensive knowledge of these issues. See how brilliantly I turned your own ridicule against you? Your own actions have proven that you think I’m brilliant. I decree it. And you really have no excuse for not allowing me to continuously regurgitate trite talking points and then responding as if they were meaningful, because if you don’t and choose to insult me instead, it just proves that you’re the one who is inadequate. And not me. I’m not inadequate. I’m not, I’m not, I’m not!
My perspective is different than yours, and I am pretty good at defending it. Why, no one in the faculty lounge would ever doubt my godlike powers of political science and capability to defend my viewpoints, so obviously you dense righties are delusional. So, rather than try to engage, you hide behind ridicule and emotion. That’s fine. But I see through you. It’s all your problem, not mine. I tell you, there’s nothing wrong with me! I don’t need to do any self-examination to see through my own obsessive motivations and the multitude of times I’ve made a complete ass of myself. Nope. You guys are the problem! You are, you are, you are! I decree it, and you have no godlike powers of political science to say otherwise.
So I’m going to keep coming here and trying to engage you. And it doesn’t mean that I have some kind of weird narcissism that makes me obsessed with this place, so STOP SAYING THAT!!!!!
I reply in a tit for tat fashion. And I define that to mean, that if you give any response that attempts to actually engage my arguments, I’ll come back an infinite number of times to explain why you’re wrong. And I’ll never, ever admit that I ever got anything wrong. See how reasonable I am?
You show respect and I’ll show respect. And you really should respect me, even though I’m too clueless to even get my blog URL right when I post a comment. My degrees mean you should automatically respect me. That’s the way it works in the faculty lounge, and it should work everywhere else too. Otherwise, why did I kiss all that ass to get my degrees?
And I’ll show you respect by telling you why you’re always wrong. It’s simple really. I don’t understand why even you thick righties don’t get it.
I was absolutely on target about Iraq, JWG, thanks for acknowledging that. The result is a major shift in American politics, almost universal acknowledgment that the war was a mistake and cost us dearly — almost every prediction I made was accurate.
I also went to my mail box today and found TIME "Why Israel Can’t Win This War." Yeah, most people realize that. A few hard core right wingers who don’t seem to get that the only way to be pro-Israel is to be pro-Palestinian, and left-wingers who don’t understand that the only way to be pro-Palestinian is to be pro-Israel, seem to think their side can "win."
After 60 years, they still think that. Delusions have power!
I was absolutely on target about Iraq, JWG, thanks for acknowledging that. Just like I was on target about all those Swift Boat liars and how Jimmy Carter is one of the smartest, greatest men in history. And all that stuff I said over and over and over again about how the violence in Iraq was going to increase in 2008 doesn’t count, because I can just slide it forward and blather a few times about how Iran is going to come out the ultimate winner, and voila, my godlike powers of political science absolve me of the need to admit even the slightest error.
The result is a major shift in American politics, almost universal acknowledgment that the war was a mistake and cost us dearly — almost every prediction I made was accurate. If you define "accurate" the way we post-modern leftists define it, of course, because there are multiple truths and we stick to ours no matter what so-called evidence you dense righties try to pull out.
I also went to my mail box today and found TIME "Why Israel Can’t Win This War." Yeah, most leftist people realize that, and since Time caters to our prejudices, I expected to see just such an article, because my godlike powers of political science allow me to predict how our leftist media will lap up talking points from Juan Cole and spit them right back out, the same way I do. And the fact that TIME gets their position from the same leftist experts I do validates how smart I am and how I’m always right.
A few hard core right wingers who don’t seem to get that the only way to be pro-Israel is to be pro-Palestinian. That’s right, you have to be pro-Palestinian to have a reasonable position on this, no matter how intractable they are or how many innocent Israelis they blow up in pizza parlors and rocket attacks. Those poor brown noble savage Palestinians are victims, and the victim always deserves infinite chances to change and should never have to pay a significant price for their actions, no matter how reprehensible.
And left-wingers should understand that the only way to be pro-Palestinian is to be pro-Israel, though offhand I can’t think of a single person who actually thinks that. Even I don’t, though I have to pretend to in order to keep up my facade of objectivity.
Anyway, neither side can "win." After 60 years, we on the left still think that. Delusions have power! Especially delusions having to do with noble savage brown people.
1) Surge will fail. 2) Troops reduced "by 2008" 3) Bush will manufacture a "peace with honor" withdrawal and blame Iraq for any violence afterward 4) increased violence 5) Iraqi PM Maliki loses base of power to Sadr’s influence
I could go on and on...
Delusions have power!
On this we can agree. Your delusions have power over your naive young students and your own ego.
A few hard core right wingers who don’t seem to get that the only way to be pro-Israel is to be pro-Palestinian
No, you’re wrong there Erb. We here are all pro-Palestinian. We would all like for them to achieve their own nation and God knows they have blown their chances at such a dream time after time. It is just that it is so difficult to try and reason with someone who is pro-death and that is such a bummer to overcome. Seems you can’t talk to someone who is h*ll bent on killing you and dying in the process, no matter what you do.
When you treat people like animals, controlling and preventing their every move in life, how do you expect them to act? And then you go and brand them terrorists and present videos like these in claims that it represents majority beliefs because people are too ignorant to question you..
When you kill over a thousand defenseless people in Gaza, when you impose a blockade depriving a population of food and necessities, when you dehumanize a people, EXPECT a few men to rise from amidst the rubble in their stubborn REFUSAL TO BE HUMILIATED. You know, I believe and always have believed that Hamas acts foolishly and not to mention unislamically at times, like when rockets hit unarmed settlers. How foolish to think their little homemade rockets are any match for the world’s fourth largest army. Hamas can do nothing, it cannot lift the siege on Gaza, end the occupation, or save innocent children from their premature deaths..It is only a tiny militia with aims to instill hope in their people that someone is fighting for them while the world does nothing...does everyone agree with Hamas, hell no, is Hamas a THREAT??? DOUBLE-HELL-NO lol and the world knows that. But Israel continues to exaggerate their threat in order to justify the mass murder and collective punishment of Palestinians..But ask Zionists for the number of people Hamas has killed over the past decades, it is in the tens..Then ask how many Palestinians Israel has killed in the past few months...weeks, days!! Thousands. Thousands.
The only threat we face is living in an ignorant world deceived by Zionist lies.