We didn’t expect Hamas to win!
- or - Hypocrisy and Incompetence - a deadly combination
Just like we couldn’t see that the USSR was crumbling internally. These people are either idiots or lunatics. What good is US intelligence and the State Department when they can’t even read the tea leaves from the published reports as well as moderately well-informed members of the public can? These professionals are always wrong. Never admit they are wrong. They never learn from their mistakes. And they are in charge of making national policies that we will have to live with for decades.
Oh, how they preach the superiority of democratic elections. Except when they don’t like the results. Then they meddle. Have been meddling for decades, and all this meddling created much of what we fear today. Fear that causes us to meddle more and meddle more vigorously. All this meddling will always come back to bite us in the ass.
The BFEE only creates individual boogiemen and lobbies for wars to take them out. Israel created Hamas to defeat the PLO -- that was a smart move. Sixty years of US geopolitics has created an endless supply of enemies from a single boogieman. The communist boogieman. Around the globe, the US backed any government that was rabidly anti-communist; no anti-communist dictator was too brutal for the US not to love. No rational, democratic government was good enough to love if it wasn’t firmly pro-western and anti-communist. Except for countries that were either too large or possessed nuclear weapons, the US meddled in their internal affairs. Invading some, covertly facilitating coups in others, but mostly meddling by identifying and supporting the anti-government and anti-communist indigenous groups or movements. Ignoring all other considerations.
Meddling in Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Indonesia to fight the good fight against communism. Instilling hatred for the secular USSR everywhere. The Muslim Brotherhood, al Qaeda, Iran’s Ayatollahs, Hamas, the Taliban and the yet to be organized Shia in Iraq and Saudi Arabia don’t exist in a vacuum. They breath the same air and are subject to the same forces that drive people throughout the world. Rejecting communism as if it were a religion required a certain amount of religious fervor. A fervor once set into motion that would feed on itself -- and morph from a battle between communism and capitalism into one between secularists and religionists. Only the most fundamentalist forms of religion can sustain such a battle for an extended period of time but for them the battle ultimately becomes one between the right religion and the wrong religion and/or everything but their religion is secular. Thus for Muslim fundamentalists, the secular USSR was interchangeable with the secular west. For Christian fundamentalists, the secular USSR was interchangeable with secular liberalism. The enemy was at home and abroad just as the communists had lurked for decades under our beds. An easier sell when the government is brutal and the people are repressed, but once the forces of fundamentalist religious fervor are unleashed, no government but a theocracy of the chosen religion will do. What’s the Matter with Kansas? The residents became anti-communist Christians. When a communist became hard to find, they became anti-liberal Christians. When liberals become hard to find, they will be free to openly express what they have been all along -- anti-everything but white, male fascists.
Latin and South American countries and Spain might have an advantage over many other countries today. The people were ruled and impoverished by governments that were fascist, anti-communist and endorsed a fundamentalist variant of Catholicism. With the demise of the USSR communist boogieman, they are no longer limited to the false choice between communism and capitalism. Aren’t looking for a more extreme form of religion to save them. Opus Dei was born in Spain but allied with Franco; thus, not fertile soil for it to grow and thrive in.
The smaller more homogenous nations like Japan, Sweden and Norway might have escaped most of this mess. Religion all mixed up with economics, politics and national defense. Societies that have little difficulty embracing modernity, knowledge and technology. Can integrate the new without fear that it will destroy the old or feel no need to cling to the old.
Rabid anti-communists, nominally religious and self-styled intellectuals were as vulnerable to this impulse as those that reached deeper and deeper into religious fundamentalism. They are our Neo-Cons. Many are Jewish by birth and most embrace the existence of Israel - Zionism with a religious fervor. Authoritarianism is their creed. They like it well enough now that they are higher on the power food chain than their ancestors did when they were at the bottom.
Hamas won or did Fatah lose? They aren’t prepared for this success. It’s too soon. They can’t drop their “death to Israel” position and safe face. They can’t attack Israel without being destroyed. The more violence and destruction that occurs on their watch, the less chance there is for an autonomous, fully independent Palestinian state much less the destruction of Israel. They face the same dilemma that Arafat did. After years of struggle, finally to achieve a small bit of success that was practically impossible to build on. Perhaps if Rabin had not been killed by a fundamentalist Jew, he could have forged an acceptable compromise. One that Arafat could have sold to the Palestinians and Rabin to the Israelis.
Arafat was old, unhealthy and gave up years ago, except to appear at conferences and reject the latest offer that screwed the Palestinians. The Palestinian Authority lived on the dole with no oversight and lapsed into corruption. Hamas has been the de-facto leader of the Palestinians for years. Supplying welfare to the people and keeping the resistance alive. Israel elected the last and most extreme of the old guard. The Israelis (and many Americans) cheered the death of Arafat. Were they as blind to what would come next as Americans were to what would follow Saddam? More Muslim fundamentalism on the march.
Can anyone predict how Hamas will govern? How power will change their remaining leaders? I can’t, but I do know that threats, bombs and withdrawal of aid will make them more and not less radical. Will garner more and not less support for them among the Palestinians. Ultimately a single leader will emerge in both Palestine and Iraq. We’re not going to like them, but we’re going to like their successors a whole lot less if we don’t accept full responsibility for working with them in the most open, honest and friendly way possible; goodwill is as easily reciprocated as ill will is, and a lot more pleasant... Will we make the wrong choice, again?