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Giving in to terrorists

Well, it's begun. The great walk-back from the "we won't deal with terrorists" position of the West.

The human ability to practice denial is an amazing thing. Hamas has not changed one whit in the last year, since they decided to seek political power at the ballot box. That was not a fundamental shift in their policies or goals, just the addition of a new tactic to their bag of tricks.

It's like the old riddle about "how many legs does an elephant have, if you call its tail a leg?"

A terrorist group manages to take control of a quasi-governmental body through legal and legitimate means. Does that make them stop being terrorists?

Well, let's see. Have they renounced violence against civilians? Nope.

Have they agreed to abide by agreements made by their predecessors (in many cases, literally)? Nope.

Have they released the soldiers they kidnapped? Nope.

Have they stopped random, unguided missile attacks against civilians? Nope.

Have they stopped suicide bombings and attempts? Nope.

But Hamas won the elections, and Jimmy Carter himself certified those elections as legitimate! Quick, recognize them, establish relations with them, give them money, and gosh darn it, don't they deserve a state of their own?

The so-called "unity government" between Hamas and Fatah can be distilled into one simple appeal that brought them together: "hey, let's stop killing each other and get back to the REAL business of killing Israelis!" The end of the internecine fighting between the "moderate" Fatah ("We want to kill all the Jews!") and the "militant" Hamas ("We want to kill all the Jews, then rip up their bodies, then dig up all the Jewish corpses and throw them into the ocean!") was something that should have been permitted to go on -- for the most part, they were killing each other and not innocents for a change. It was a modern-day version of the Iran-Iraq War -- "when Hamas and Fatah fight, who wins? Everyone else!"

Before the elections that swept Hamas into power, the United States made its position clear: we will not deal with Hamas. Period. Not until they stop being terrorists. Their assuming of political power has not changed their fundamental nature one iota.

The Palestinian people, in what is pretty much established to have been a free and fair election, chose the terrorists. It should not be the place of the world to deprive them of that right -- and the right to fully enjoy the consequences of that choice, consequences they knew when they cast their ballots.


Comments (20)

Kind of hypocritical of the... (Below threshold)

Kind of hypocritical of the US, isn't it?

I mean, America presses so hard for other peoples to have the freedom to select their own leaders, but then when the Palestinians choose Hamas, Washington pretends as through Hamas doesn't really represent the overwhelming majority of Palestinians!

Let the Palestinians sleep in the bed they made.

Sadly, Washington is doing the same with Abbas as it did with Arafat - turning him into a fig leaf for the violent groups that make up Palestinian society and the government. And then they insist that peace is achievable!

I understand the need to protect American interests, but it should never come at the expense of your allies.

Jay,Any idea why all... (Below threshold)
Allen:

Jay,
Any idea why all the countries the US has helped in the past,(such as during WWII), Cold War, etc are not helping very much, if any, on the war on terrorists?

I realize it's not feasible for the US to do so, but maybe we should start withholding foreign aid to some countries. A lot of countries either hate us or dislike us, but they keep stretching their hands out for our help, and stab us in the back.

The money we saved by withholding aid could be used for more and better equipment for our front line troops.

Paying countries for their ... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Paying countries for their "support" of the USA is a Cold War holdover. If we didn't do it, Russia would. We do not need to pay for this support. We should wait for them to come to us contrite and ready to act like grown ups. JT, good read. The Palestinian leadership and its citizens chose this path, let THEM maintain it. ww

Freedom and responsibility ... (Below threshold)
_Mike_:

Freedom and responsibility go hand-in-hand. To relieve/ deprive someone of the responsibility of dealing with the consequences of their actions, breaks the critical feedback loop that allows the person to learn from their actions and does them a great disservice. Pain serves a very important purpose. It provides feedback that something you're doing is wrong and provides motivation for change.

Let the Palestinians deal with the consequences of their chosen path. As with chemotherapy, sometimes things must get worse so that they can get better.

_Mike_, that's exactly it, ... (Below threshold)

_Mike_, that's exactly it, in a nut shell. Much like people who make poor decisions in their lives, over and over, and others bailing them out with welfare checks and free housing, the Palestinians are simply looking for enablers so they can continue their cycle poor decision making, waiting for the pity wagon to show up. It's easier than thinking.

I no longer recognize the l... (Below threshold)

I no longer recognize the legitimacy of the Norwegian state.

For all intents and purposes, Scandinavia is now Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and The Viking Authority.

Just because a government i... (Below threshold)
Heralder:

Just because a government is democratically elected it does not, in any way shape or form mean we are obliged to recognize and support it. Unless there's some clause in our constitution I'm missing? I didn't think so.

I'm of the opinion that you... (Below threshold)
Publicus:

I'm of the opinion that you talk to people...even really bad people. Often, nothing good comes of it, but sometimes something good does happen.

I think you need to do it with eyes open. Talk to North Korea. Talk to Iran. Talk to the Palestinian government.

Look, Begin and Sadat has some serious marks against them----they weren't angels...but they learned to make peace.

Arafat didn't. But talking to him wasn't a mistake...just a disappointment.

What about the IRA? Something good eventually happened there...after a heartbreaking long period of senseless violence.

My thought is: don't pin to much hope on it, but talk. It's worth it for the benefits of the rare occasions when it works.

Yes, we should be talking w... (Below threshold)
Heralder:

Yes, we should be talking with them and helping them help themselves, or not.

Hamas shoots Israeli despite truce

GAZA (Reuters) - The armed wing of Hamas said it carried out its first attacks on Monday against Israel since a shaky November truce in the Gaza Strip, shooting a utility worker near the border and firing two mortar bombs at soldiers.

One does not have to use wo... (Below threshold)
epador:

One does not have to use words to speak. SO I have nothing against speaking to our enemies.

Publicus, that all sounds s... (Below threshold)

Publicus, that all sounds so nice, but in the real world....

What's to talk about? They have not changed their rhetoric in hundreds of years. Convert, submit or die.

Hamas has been around for h... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Hamas has been around for hundreds of years?

Mantis, maybe you're just b... (Below threshold)

Mantis, maybe you're just being silly, making a joke and I didn't get it, but my point was more to what underlies all of these problems. Islamic fanaticism. They don't want to destroy Israel for any other reason truly than that they see Palestine as holy Muslim ground. Period.

but my point was more to... (Below threshold)
mantis:

but my point was more to what underlies all of these problems. Islamic fanaticism.

Well, you were responding to Publicus' suggestion that we engage Hamas, not "Islamic Fanatics" in general. Of course, if you base your solutions on broad-brushed terms like "Islamic Fanaticism" as "the problem" that leaves us with zero options for dealing with these problems. What makes an "Islamic fanatic?" Is that a terrorist? A nonviolent supporter of Hamas or Hezbollah? A devout Muslim? Any Muslim? Where are lines drawn between fanatics and non-fanatics? How do you reconcile the differences between the different Islamic groups & governments, their goals and grievances with each other and with the west? Are some more "fanatical" than others? It's quite easy to see how such an outlook, while comforting in an "us against them" way, is quite useless from a foreign policy standpoint. We must consider different groups--ethnic, religious, and political--as distinct. It is quite similar to when the president referred to an East Asian communist dictatorship, a Shia Theocracy, and a secular Sunni Arab military dictatorship as an "Axis," as if any of them shared the same goals.

Now none of this determines whether or not we should recognize or try to deal with Hamas, but we should at least start with an informed viewpoint about the group, and the "government" they now control. If you just want to fight the Muslims because some among them are fanatics, you are engaging in the fanatics' holy war, which is exactly what they want.

They don't want to destroy Israel for any other reason truly than that they see Palestine as holy Muslim ground. Period.

If we're going to talk in generalities like "Islamic Fanatics," and why they want to destroy Israel, we can find some common ground among the disparate groups, but your summary of their motivations is a bit off. They may say that, but the "holy ground" argument is really just a red herring (my guess is Jerusalem would be far less holy to Muslims if the Christians and Jews hadn't also wanted it). They want to destroy Israel because a) they hate Jews, and b) they consider all Arab lands to be Muslim (not necessarily holy, just Muslim).

Well, you were respondin... (Below threshold)
MikeSC:

Well, you were responding to Publicus' suggestion that we engage Hamas, not "Islamic Fanatics" in general. Of course, if you base your solutions on broad-brushed terms like "Islamic Fanaticism" as "the problem" that leaves us with zero options for dealing with these problems. What makes an "Islamic fanatic?" Is that a terrorist? A nonviolent supporter of Hamas or Hezbollah?

A "non-violent" supporter of Hamas and Hezbollah? Sounds like a "non-racist" supporter of the Klan.

You KNOW what those groups stand for. They are open about it. If you support them, by any rational definition, you are not "non-violent".
-=Mike

I'm still all for speaking ... (Below threshold)
epador:

I'm still all for speaking to this folks from the mouth of a 50 cal. I think they understand that type of diplomatic exchange.

Mantis, jeez. You're putti... (Below threshold)

Mantis, jeez. You're putting an awful lot into my one sentence. Let me answer at least most of your questions:

Hamas is comprised of Islamic fanatics and militants and the majority of Palestinians voted Hamas into power.

That was not a "broad brush". It applied to everyone who supports their policy of hating and evicting (or killing) the Jews. Not every single person.

You do the math and quit putting words into my mouth or inferring ten thousand other things you think I might be saying.

AND...While many love assigning responsibility for everything on everyone who voted for Bush, they're not so willing to put the same responsibility on everyone who voted for Hamas.

Mantis, jeez. You're put... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Mantis, jeez. You're putting an awful lot into my one sentence.

Your one sentence, at least on its face, dismissed the possibility that diplomacy is even worthwhile to attempt. Such an assertion is simplistic and naive, and the situation deserves more thorough analysis.

Hamas is comprised of Islamic fanatics and militants and the majority of Palestinians voted Hamas into power.

And Hamas engages in a lot of activities, including social services like building hospitals and schools, running clinics and relief programs, increasing literacy, and so forth. Who would you support if you were living in a non-country with little opportunity or education; the far more powerful country that has you penned in and is filled with people you have been taught to hate, or the group that gives you food, schools, and medicine? If you support them does that automatically make you an "Islamic fanatic?"

That was not a "broad brush". It applied to everyone who supports their policy of hating and evicting (or killing) the Jews. Not every single person.

Again, I ask, where do you draw the line?

You do the math and quit putting words into my mouth or inferring ten thousand other things you think I might be saying.

What words did I put in your mouth? I ask questions. You don't answer them.

While many love assigning responsibility for everything on everyone who voted for Bush,

I assign responsibility for the president's policies to the president.

they're not so willing to put the same responsibility on everyone who voted for Hamas.

I assign responsibility for Hamas' policies to Hamas.

What that last part has to do with whether we engage so-called "Islamic fanatical" groups, which you still did not define, in dialogue or not, I have no idea.

And Hamas engages in a l... (Below threshold)
MikeSC:

And Hamas engages in a lot of activities, including social services like building hospitals and schools, running clinics and relief programs, increasing literacy, and so forth.

mantis: Well, gee, the Nazis helped end massive German inflation. I guess they weren't TOTALLY evil.
-=Mike

Defining what a terror grou... (Below threshold)

Defining what a terror group is, after all this time, is like defining what "is" is. And anyone who thinks for a moment that talking to Hamas, or any number of terror groups, will accomplish anything other that a brief period of quasi non violence while they simply regroup for their next offense, is kidding themselves.

Hamas has clearly shown that they will not change their policy of the destruction of Israel. That is one of the most basic and fundamental issues at hand. No complexities there.

Shall we have a nice long talk with Hizballah while we're at it? Never mind that their schools and hospitals are built on top of underground arsenals; they provide social services.

Deeds speak far louder than words. Their actions have, over and over, proven that in their world, talk is merely a way to bide time.

Talk to some people who have spent time in the Middle East. They'll all tell you that lying is an art form and agreements are worth less than the paper they're written on. And if one has trouble believing that, one only needs to read a little history.

So let's say we "talk" with Hamas. We tell them that we'll give them financial aid to help with their "social services" if they stop lobbing unguided missiles arbitrarily into Israel shopping centers. Money is fungible. All this does is free up other funds for terror activities they can deny having a hand in. As long as they don't attempt to put a stop to the import of arms over their borders, don't implement and uphold laws that hamper the open carrying of AK47s and the like, and continue their policy of driving the Jews into the sea there's little point in talking. They have no control over law and order. The PA didn't and neither does Hamas. And they've shown no inclination toward trying.




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