Saturday, January 28, 2006

Living With Hamas...

...will shortly become the Palestinian's problem. Will Hamas install Islamic law, giving us another society of veiled women and bearded men? Not what the Palestinians were thinking when they went hunting for an alternative to Hamas, but there was a reason there were no sane alternatives - the body politic didn't allow for it. Will Gaza be governed as a rump state of Syria, with terror leaders in Damascus calling the shots for their puppets in the territories? How long until Hamas, feeling the wrath of a frustrated populace seeing minimal changes in their living standards, turns its guns on Isreal in a blind fury? And this will help the average Palestinian how, exactly?

Jim Hoagland in today's Washington Post makes the same point we made here yesterday: For better or worse, in order to create a true understanding of how democracy works, the Palestinians cannot be protected form the consequences of their actions (no matter what Dimmy Carter might think). He writes:

Even after Hamas's victory became clear, Bush urged President Abbas to "stay in office and work to move the process forward." The president seemed to be proposing that Abbas seek a political blessing from Hamas and a power-of-attorney to continue talks that the radicals denounce as worthless.
That is precisely the wrong direction to take. The Bush administration and other governments should do nothing to obscure for the Palestinians the consequences of their actions at the ballot boxes on Wednesday. It would not be effective diplomacy or politics to cushion the Palestinians from those consequences.
The world should not move backward 20 years, to the time when diplomats moved heaven and earth to coax grudging and obscure statements from Yasser Arafat acknowledging Israel's right to exist.
That effort led to Israel's 1993 decision to install Fatah in command of the Palestinian territories in return for Arafat's unfulfilled installment-plan promise to make peace.
That history suggests there is little to be gained now from trying to induce Hamas into reasonable-sounding rhetoric or from trying to keep afloat an Abbas administration that has just been repudiated. Clarity counts in this election's aftermath.

We don't know what the consequences may be, but there is no doubt they can be shattering on many levels. International condemnation and legal issues may cut funding for a people whom have precious little money to begin with. The loss of freedoms associated with Islamic fundamentalism might be a new experience for the Palestinians; and one that may take years to restore even with free elections. And most likely the ravages of war will continue - as Hamas is forced to placate its radical (mainstream?) elements by continuing and celebrating attacks on Israel, one may expect the Jewish State to be less restrained in their responses, leading to infrastructural damage and lots and lots of human collataral. One can even see Israel going after Hamas strongholds in Lebenon and Syria, to cut off supplies or send a not-so-subtle message to the boys in Gaza, depending on their behavior.

It is no "shock" to me that a terrorist group has been given hold of the territories via free election; for years under Arafat and Fatah the hatred of Jews and the sacrifice of oneself as a martyr have been extolled as the highest virtues. Why shouldn't they elect those whom champion these values?

This will be the beginning of an earthquake that will eventually lead to virtual full-scale warfare in the Middle East - and folks, we are not even feeling the tremors yet...

Jim Hoagland in the Washington Post here:
Yesterday's discussion here:

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