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Hullabaloo


Thursday, January 26, 2006

 
Whirlwind

by digby


With all of my politicking today I failed to note this unbelievable development in the mid-east: the terrists won an election in Palestine. And they won big time.

What does this mean for the preznits cartoon foreign policy? Here I thought that democracy was all like magic 'n shit and we were spreadin' freedom to everybody so they'd love us.

Here's Juan Cole:


How do you like your democracy now, Mr. Bush?


Jan. 27, 2006 | The stunning victory of the militant Muslim fundamentalist Hamas Party in the Palestinian elections underlines the central contradictions in the Bush administration's policies toward the Middle East. Bush pushes for elections, confusing them with democracy, but seems blind to the dangers of right-wing populism. At the same time, he continually undermines the moderate and secular forces in the region by acting high-handedly or allowing his clients to do so. As a result, Sunni fundamentalist parties, some with ties to violent cells, have emerged as key players in Iraq, Egypt and Palestine.

Democracy depends not just on elections but on a rule of law, on stable institutions, on basic economic security for the population, and on checks and balances that forestall a tyranny of the majority. Elections in the absence of this key societal context can produce authoritarian regimes and abuses as easily as they can produce genuine people power. Bush is on the whole unwilling to invest sufficiently in these key institutions and practices abroad. And by either creating or failing to deal with hated foreign occupations, he has sown the seeds for militant Islamist movements that gain popularity because of their nationalist credentials.


[...]

Bush has boxed himself into an impossible situation. He promoted elections that have produced results opposite of the ones he wanted. For all his constant rhetoric about his determination to hunt down and kill terrorists, in Palestine he has in effect helped install into power a group he calls "terrorists." His confusion over whether this is democracy, which should be legitimate, or is an unacceptable outcome -- and his unwillingness to address the underlying issues behind the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- suggest that a fatal paralysis will continue to afflict the region.


The man who is planning to run the mid-terms on his great success as a wartime president just facilitated the first elected Islamic terrorist government and delegitimized moderates throughout the region. That's quite an achievement.

Here's what the commentators were saying tonight on Lehrer. (Both of them looked like they were giong to shoot themselves right after the show was over.)


KHALIL JAHSHAN: I think the program that the president has been advocating has definitely suffered as a consequence of these elections. There is a big question mark right now on a program that was hastily put together post 9/11 without thinking of the consequences of this type of advocacy of democracy without tilling the ground, if you will, or tilling the soil to allow that type of democracy to grow and to be able to nurture it from a distance. These results, I think, made that criticism a lot more credible and more forceful today than yesterday.

[...]

MARTIN INDYK: Basically, look, I agree that recently we've heard the last few days some interesting statements from Olmert at the Herzliya Conference, some of the Hamas leaders during the election showing some hope that one could build on. But frankly this is deja vu in the sense that these results I think have set us back probably 20 if not 30 years.

We're going to go back to again negotiating over charters and negotiating over removing the destruction of this party by the other party. And so there is -- the chances of two parties who have conducted ten years of negotiations coming back to the table and restarting their negotiations from where things stopped right now are much dimmer. These chances are much dimmer and much slimmer than anticipated.


I'm sure all the warbloggers have been feverishly typing "bring it on!" all day. But this is actually very serious stuff and it is a direct result of a simpleminded American policy. It isn't the first failure and it is going to be far from the last. You cannot successfully run the world on comic book slogans and third rate biblical homilies. When the Supreme Court installed a halfwit in the oval office we reaped the whirlwind.

Oh, and in case anyone's thinking that this really wasn't in the hands of Americans:

MARTIN INDYK: ... And, by the way, one should say in this regard, that there was an opportunity to postpone the election. Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the PA wanted to do so. But this administration insisted that it go ahead.



When it comes to elections, there is nothing more sacred to a Republican than an arbitrary, meaningless deadline.



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