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Trump Card

It seems whenever I bring up the terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah, and their increasing political power in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon respectively, I am reminded that both organizations have political wings alongside their militant wings, and have won power through free and fair elections.

That is true, and I have no problem with that.

Hamas is the duly elected government of the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip (and can make an argument for the West Bank, as well), and Hezbollah holds several seats in the Lebanese legislature and is part of a powerful coalition in that government.

However, I do not think this grants them absolution for their "militant" wings.

To me, the political legitimacy of these groups is utterly trumped by their ongoing status as a terrorist organization. As far as I am concerned, they are terrorist organizations who have discovered an interesting and potentially useful supplemental tactic -- to win political power at the ballot box as well as from the barrel of a gun.

I am willing to give some slight benefit of the doubt to terrorist groups that choose to transform themselves into political entities, as long as they leave the terrorism completely behind them. That's pretty much happened with the Irish Republican Army and the African National Congress.

Hamas and Hezbollah, on the other hand, have shown absolutely no interest in stepping away from terrorism. Quite the contrary -- Hezbollah is currently waging war against the Lebanese government, and Hamas is continuing its terrorist attacks and threats against Israel. They are hoping to "buy" legitimacy by winning elections and gaining more popular support for their agenda, and that agenda includes continual terrorism.

In an ideal world, just the opposite would occur. Any government that becomes subsumed to a terrorist organization -- even through honest, free and fair elections -- would become delegitimized in the eyes of the world. Instead, many would argue that taking over a government gives the terrorist group legitimacy and credibility, and must be treated as any other government.

I think not.

There's an old saying that in democracies, people tend to get the government they deserve. These cases give proof to that theory. The people of the Palestinian territories chose to honor terrorissts with the reins of power. In Lebanon, enough Lebanese chose to support (or were intimidated into supporting) Hezbollah, who are evolving into a terrorist state within a state, converting southern Lebanon into Hezbollahstan, where they hold absolute power and don't allow the Lebanese authorities to exert any control over that region.

Naturally, the United Nations has issued a Resolution condemning it, and now are desperately trying to pretend that no such thing ever happened.

But back to my point: both Hamas and Hezbollah are terrorist organizations that have managed to acquire a measure of political control through legitimate means. But that ought to mean absolutely nothing -- apart from confirming those governments as terrorism-supporting entities. We can not and should not allow those successes to whitewash the rest of the organization and its deeds.


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Comments (5)

As far as I am concerned... (Below threshold)
mantis:

As far as I am concerned, they are terrorist organizations who have discovered an interesting and potentially useful supplemental tactic -- to win political power at the ballot box as well as from the barrel of a gun.

Electoral terrorism!? You are stretching.

Let me ask you something, Jay. How did it come to pass that the IRA and the ANC ceased their violent activities and became strictly political actors? Did it happen because their opponents denounced them as terrorists and refused to deal with them in any way, dismissing their involvement in government as just another form of terrorism?

I think not.

As far as I am con... (Below threshold)
As far as I am concerned, they are terrorist organizations who have discovered an interesting and potentially useful supplemental tactic -- to win political power at the ballot box as well as from the barrel of a gun.

I would take it further and say that they won political power via the power of a gun although I can't speak for the voters' motives for electing these groups.

When I saw former President Carter on Leno he mentioned that Hamas wasn't legitimized by his visit, but buy the votes of the Palestinian people.

Palestine would have had their own state by now if they'd have taken their cues from King and Ghandi. Can you imagine the world reaction if non-violent protests broke out in Palestine followed by the Israeli government cracking down on them? Can you imagine the reaction in the USA?

Hell, if Hamas and Hezbollah directed their violence strictly against military targets, I'd have more respect for them, but they continue to murder innocent civilians in order to get what they want.

I don't care how many votes a mass murderer gets, that doesn't make them any less a mass murderer.

And for anyone who tries to make the case that our own government is the same thing, I have no use for your relativity. If you can't tell the difference between collateral damage which is the consequence of a military taking out legal or illegal combatants and a terrorist strike directed against innocent civilians, we aren't going to have an informed discussion.

Mantis, through your argume... (Below threshold)
Oyster:

Mantis, through your argument, are you implying that there's any chance Hamas and Hezbollah will cease terrorist activities; that Hezbollah stop colluding with Syria and Iran in aggressions against a neighboring state; that Hamas will act like a legitimate government and crack down on other terrorist entities within its borders; that Hezbollah will stop building weapons depots and military installations under schools and hospitals; that either will stop funneling aid from other countries intended for humanitarian purposes to their military wing?

As far as the ANC goes, they didn't just end their terrorist activities due to being denounced by anyone. It is my understanding that the fall of the USSR ended their funding (and the support Cuba gave them with military personnel) for those activities. We can't say they would have stopped if the USSR hadn't fallen.

Maybe that's what Hezbollah and Hamas needs. No more funding they can funnel into military activities instead of the humanitarian purposes it's intended for. Somehow, I don't think Syria or Iran will cooperate though.

Mantis, through your arg... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Mantis, through your argument, are you implying that there's any chance Hamas and Hezbollah will cease terrorist activities....

I think it's possible, yes. Will it definitely happen? No. Could it happen overnight? No. It would take a long time and depends in large part on the status of the Palestinian Territories.

As far as the ANC goes, they didn't just end their terrorist activities due to being denounced by anyone. It is my understanding that the fall of the USSR ended their funding (and the support Cuba gave them with military personnel) for those activities. We can't say they would have stopped if the USSR hadn't fallen.

Once the USSR fell and the ANC backing was gone, the US no longer had a Cold War reason to back the apartheid regime, and wheels started to turn. The parallel to Lebanon is interesting, as we largely back the government there as opposition to Hezbollah and their Iranian/Syrian sponsors. Sadly, Iran and Syria will not simply collapse as the Soviet Union did, and they have a great deal more invested in Lebanon than the Soviets ever did in South Africa (being next door tends to have that effect). So there will be no parallel outcome. It will take something different. It hinges on the formation of a Palestinian state, which hinges on Hamas and Hezbollah ceasing their activities, and on and on.

Eventually both sides may see the futility and back down to a compromise. Or not. I do think it is possible, though.

On a somewhat <a href="http... (Below threshold)
mantis:

On a somewhat related note:

Thousands of South Africans who suffered under apartheid won the right yesterday to sue a number of companies, including BP, Citigroup and Ford, for allegedly helping to perpetrate human rights abuses.

The US Supreme Court ruled that three class actions can use the American legal system to sue approximately 50 international corporations who they believe "knowingly aided and abetted the South African military and security forces". Some legal experts have estimated that the companies could be sued for as much as $400 billion.

The corporations that could be facing a court challenge in the United States also include ExxonMobil, UBS, Deutsche Bank, General Motors, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Bank of America and General Electric.

Ok, not that related, but I stumbled upon it just after talking about South Africa here. Coincidence???

Yes.




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