Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Misguided Ideals

(Hat tips: Edit Copy & InterGalacticJester)

Before I begin, I must confess: I was really riled up when I first read about this, particularly at the New York Times; but reading it over again, the Times' article really isn't all that bad. It presents the story without any discernible bias - it's just a despicable story to begin with.

What really bothered me was Great Brendino's surprising comment over at the IGJ, which I originally thought was a quote (they don't really use blockquotes at IGJ, and the lower case 'O' threw me off). A little background first: The United States and Israel are accused of plotting to undermine Hamas' ability to govern by cutting off aid and keeping the borders between Israel and the Palestinian territories closed - unless Hamas does carries out three demands, according to the Times:
But the officials and diplomats say Hamas will be given a choice: recognize Israel's right to exist, forswear violence and accept previous Palestinian-Israeli agreements — as called for by the United Nations and the West — or face isolation and collapse.
Pretty reasonable requests, if you ask me. But this is what the Grand Brendino had to say:
our trumping of democracy as a solution to the problems in the Middle East will never be legitimate in the eyes of the world if we openly undermine democratically-elected governments less than a month after they're elected. This sends one message: we support democracy so long as it works in our favor. It doesn't take a giant leap in reasoning to decide that we support ANY form of government, so long as it works in our favor.
This is absolutely wrong. Democracy is the best approach, because it gives the voice to the people to show who and what they desire to lead them. In this case, the Palestinians made their choice: They chose terror. In free and fair elections, they stated their desires - and Israel and the United States have no obligation whatsoever to deal with them. This is not "undermining democracy"; this is simply telling the Palestinians, "You made your choice, these are the consequences. Next time, think about that as you are making your choice."

Telling Hamas that they must stop terror, denounce terror, and recognize Israel's right to exist are good requests. They're not at all unreasonable, and it's extremely difficult to imagine living near an elected government that does not agree to those simple demands. There is no requirement of any government to supply any another government with aid, with supplies, or with open borders. This is especially true when the latter will not even acknowledge the right of the former to exist and is sworn to its destruction. Isn't this obvious?!

We crave democracy because it gives power to the people, rather than the whims of a despotic ruler, dictator, or selfish ruling class. Therefore, we encourage and support democracies in every part of the world. By the same token, the people in a democracy should be acting to further that which is right and humanitarian, not that which is misguided and murderous. We are not only not obligated to support governments of terror, we are obligated to do anything which is in our power to properly teach those who have voted for terror to rethink their decision. They must recognize that it is not in the best interests of anyone to do so: Not the world's; not their neighbors'; not their allies'; and certainly not their own.

The Palestinians finally had the opportunity to make their own bed, and they did. Now let them lie in it, and learn. Hopefully, they will, quickly - for their sake and for ours.


  1. I don't know why, but politics just doesn't "do it" for me.

    However, keep it up. You're a good writer. -Zoe

  2. Thank you. Long time no see... I think you were of the first to ever comment here.

  3. Amen! Democracy is not perfect but what's the alternative: socialism? Dictatorship?

  4. Hey Ezzie, strolled on over from the IGJ,

    I think one of the key differences between where we stand on this issue can be summed up like this - you, apparently, would measure Hammas' legitimacy in their recognizing Israel's right to exist, I would measure it in their not actively working to make Israel cease to exist. You want them to forswear violence, I want them to not use violence. We both want them to abide by best agreements - or at least seek to ammend them in a fair, diplomatic manner.

  5. Ezzie, very well put.

    Democracy is the best method of governance from the internal perspective of a state- it best represents its people in a just manner. But that doesnt mean that a democracy then has carte blanche in dealing with other states. Other states are free to impose punishment and sanction on a democracy in an effort to get them to conform with their demands. That isn't antidemocratic any more than trade agreements among democracies.

    A democratic pariah state is still a pariah state.

    If the United States or Israel were to support a strong man who would crush democratic rule, that would be undermining democracy. Cutting off relations with a Hamas-run PA is what the diplomacy is all about. Any Hamas collapse as a result of diplomatic isolation will be the result of a democratic process- the Palestinian people waking up to the realities of the world.

  6. Yes, but you're not really holding them to anything. That there's a lull in deadly attacks can more likely be attributed to the wall around Gaza and the closed borders Israel has instituted than to anything Hamas has done. You don't make agreements and concessions to anybody who promises that their objective is to wipe you from the face of the earth - that's just stupid.

    They have never yet honored an agreement to stop violence, and have continued to swear that they will force all the Jews into the sea. There are daily rocket attacks into populated and commercial areas. Why would you assume that they will not use violence?

  7. R2JB - Thanks, well said yourself.

    JBM - Exactly.

    The comment above was to Devo.

  8. Ezzie,

    I'm not assuming anything. Like I said from the get go, I mostly agree with you. I just think we need a different, acts based standard for implementation. I also think that as a goodwill gesture, all money withheld from the Palestinian government should be redirected to purely humanitarian efforts within Palestine. That's the way you win hearts and minds ... or at least give yourself a fighting shot of it.

  9. I'd be thrilled with that - if there a way to ensure that the money made it there. The Palestinians refuse to allow direct Israeli help, and have a terrible track record with money.

    Basically, the point is that Hamas has had its chances time and time again, and they chose terror. Let them take the first few steps for once.

  10. It's very simple. Saying that the US's and Israel's ultimatum to Hamas is undermining democracy is just plain wrong. As Natan Sharansky and any politic scientist worth his lunch has stated is that voting is the LAST step in the process of democracy, not the first. Voting does NOT a democracy make. The PA is not a legitimate democracy, by any means or definition.

    People like to believe that when a country votes, they have entered into a democracy or have chosen a democracy. Also, just because a people vote doesn't mean they're actually voting for a democracy. How would history have viewed the US and the rest of the Allies if they hadn't attacked Hitler just because they all said, "Well, Hitler was democratically voted in. There's really nothing we can do about it."? That's just incorrect and backwards thinking.

    Devo, your plan wouldn't work. Who would you have control that money? Or, better yet, who do you think controls that money? Billions have dollars have filtered through to the Palestinians in the supposition of going to humanitarian aid. That money has never actually made it to the Palestinian people. Per capita, the Palestinans have gotten more money and donations than any other country in the world, to the effect of slightly more than $100 per person per day. That's more than 100 times more than the calculated poverty line. But, the Palestinians have never seen this money. So, how do you suppose to guarantee that this "humanitartian aid" will actually reach the Palestinians this time? All humanitarian aid goes through the government. They're the ones who control all the "humanitarian" organizations. Them and Hamas. Oh well... try again.

  11. So don't send it through the government. No offense to Israel, but if I were Palestine, I wouldn't let their folks in either.

    Use international NGOs. Don't give money, give food and other basic necessities - build hospitals or schools.

    Pretty much what I'm proposing is doing the exact same thing Christian missionaries did around the world - at least the good parts of it. (We don't need to go all Junipero Serra on their asses and enslave them in the name of God ... I hate that his statue is one of the two representing CA in the Capitol.)

    If the government won't let in the NGOs, well persist as much as you can, raise a big fuss, get a ton of press and you at least will have accomplished part of your goal.

  12. Democracy does not guarantee good behavior. The authors of the Federalist Papers worried about the ability of a majority to impose its will on a minority. And large democracies often abuse small nations, democratic or not. Consider the United States support for the overthrow of democratic governments in Chile and Guatemala when they weren't supporting the US party line. Germany and Austria-Hungary were also democracies in 1914 and that didn't prevent World War I. Go back further in history and you find that democracies in classical Greece were notorious for abusing those individuals who didn't have full rights of citizens, as well as nearby areas that were not as powerful. Athens in the 5th century BCE was more dangerous to its neighbors than was Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

  13. OC - Excellent, excellent comment.

    Charlie - Great examples. Thanks. (And how do you remember all this stuff?!)

    Devo - All right, I'd be open to that; however, the few that have tried have failed miserably, being too tied into the Palestinian infrastructure (IIRC).

    In the end, I don't think we're different either; but it comes down to who should take what steps first. Israel has asked Hamas to simply take off its vow to wipe them out and stop trying to kill Jews - if that's too much to ask, I don't see why Israel should feel bad about not giving them aid.

  14. Devo, again, NGOs won't work, because they have to answer to the PA. The corrupt Palestinian government is extremely smart in how they get their money and rob the people. Build hospitals and schools? Where do you think Hamas gets the money to do these things? From the same NGOs you're endorsing. I would suggest you read the book, "Terrorist Hunter" to find out the stark and horrifying reality of how "NGOs" are supporting the Palestinian people. It's a real eye opener. And, no offense to the Palestinians, but if I were an Israeli, I'd think they were the dumbest people on earth not to accept help from people who actually know what they're doing and have been extremely successful in creating economic and social infrastructures.

  15. I'd have to say what bothered me most about this whole post was the tiny, parenthentical, italicized statement that we don't use blockquotes at the 'Jester!

    To this, I say, "Boooo, Mr. Ezzie. Boooo, indeed."

    We use blockquotes, but they are a little funky in style. They are the dashed green lines.

    I may have to steal the CSS code from one of the other Blogger templates and insert it into our system just to make it more obvious.


  16. You are correct and it is obvious. Terrorists at the ballot box are still terrorists. There is nothing wrong with drawing back funding.

    However, this story leaking is going to cause us much grief.