The Mix

Democracies not welcome

Why it's in our best interests to encourage dictators in the Middle East.
Despite what we say, we negotiate fine with terrorists*, we just don't negotiate with the democratically elected governments we don't like. That's the only conclusion I can draw from Ms. Rice and the Bush Administration's continued assertion that they want to isolate the new Hamas-led government of the tiny barbed wire isolated devastation we're calling Palestine.

At first, the line was, we won't negotiate or send aid to Hamas until it renounces violence and accepts Israel's right to exist in pre-1967 borders. Now, Rice is saying we won't negotiate with Hamas. There are no conditions set on our aid to Israel. Period.

The European Union has, warily, said they'll give the Hamas-majority government "a few weeks" to clarify its positions. In other words, they're hoping monetary desperation will bring political expediency.

But political expediency was what doomed Arafat's Fatah party. After years and years of "accomodation" with both Israel and the United States, they had little to show for it except a corrupt puppet government of their own, a barbed wire fence around the West Bank, and a seemingly endless round of revenge killings. As Laurie King-Irani points out, the Hamas’ victory stems, ultimately, from the "blatant corruption, mediocrity, and lack of leadership in the Palestinian Authority, the elite of which were supported and propped up by successive US administrations." This is not to say that Hamas will do any better than Fatah at governing the bits and scraps of Palestine that have not yet been occupied by Israeli settlers. But -- even with their lack of experience and the piss poor hand the Palestinians have in influencing international support -- it would be hard for them do worse.

So far, we're still holding the puppet strings in Iraq. But all the money and bombs in the world aren't enough to avoid the inevitable: the first thing any real popularly elected Iraqi government would do is kick the U.S. out. Corruptable aging dictators are so much easier to work with than those pesky democractically-elected "terorrists."

*See Evan's excellent post here and the full analysis here.
Rachel Neumann is Rights & Liberties Editor at AlterNet.
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