Rob at sayanything has posted a reply to my earlier post entitled “We must respect the palestinian people’s decision”. As usual, Rob’s post is well thought out and makes a very good arguement for his perspective on the palestinian situation.
Rob makes two very good points:
Living in a democracy means getting to participate in the choosing of leaders. But that also means living with the leaders who are chosen. Voting is just the first step.
because the simple fact that Hamas was elected democratically does not mean our country has to start recognizing governments lead by groups who have “destroy the Jews” as part of their party platform.
I completely agree with the first point. Voting is the only the first step. The people of Palestine have a great deal of “dealing” to do with the government that they have elected. This has already begun.
The second point that Rob makes is only partly right in my opinion. We don’t have to deal with a government that has “destroy all jews” as part of their party platform. We do however have to recognize the government that the hamas leaders contruct. The leaders of the United States have for too long demonstrated a “democracy is ok as long as you elect who we want you to” policy. One of the reasons that the Arab world is so strongly against us is because of this. Abu Aardvark stated it best:
It is an article of faith among virtually all Arabs and Muslims that in 1992 the United States and Europe green lighted the Algerian military coup after the Islamist FIS stood on the brink of electoral victory. This has been taken for a decade and a half as the definitive evidence that the American and European commitment to democracy was a hypocritical farce: democracy only if our allies won.
He goes on to make an extremely good point:
we are going to see some major political science propositions put to the test: does power moderate or radicalize Islamist groups? Will they be willing and able to work with non-Islamist parties in a coalition? Will they use their democratic victory to abolish democracy? Will Islamist groups concentrate on the pragmatics of rule or resort to foreign policy grandstanding? Will they use their position of power to pursue terrorism? Will they be willing to set aside doctrine and work pragmatically with Israelis and Americans? Will they use government power to impose unpopular sharia rule over their people? Will they oppress Christian and non-Islamist Muslims? Most academic and policy analysis of these questions has remained counterfactual and hypothetical, since there have been no actual examples of an elected Islamist group in power. That could now change.
And he goes on to make the most important point of all:
Above alll, don’t give the Islamist hardliners the winning argument they crave about American hypocrisy. Refusing to deal with Hamas right now could effectively kill American attempts to promote democracy in the Middle East for a generation.
Or Iran. My point in saying that we must respect the Palestinian people’s decision is that for too long the American Government has come across as hypocritical. In a time when we are fighting a war on terrorism, a war that targets mostly Arabic people, we must not appear hypocritical. What value do our promises to the fledgling Iraqi government have if we do? What value do our promises to our Arab Nation Allies have? What image to we portray to the next country we try to convince into democracy?
We as American’s take to the polls every two years to vote our leaders into office. We do so willingly. We also do so with the expectation that the rest of the world will respect our decision and recognize our new leaders as the duly elected leaders of the United States of America. Should we not extend the same to other countries? Are we so self-enamored that we honestly believe that we can take a “do as I say and not as I do” approach to this?
The Arab world is watching us very closely. Al Queda is begging us to not recognize the Palestinian government. What ammo that would be. What a recruiting tool that would provide them.
At the very least we must give the new leaders of Palestine the opportunity to show us the stances that their government will take. We must recognize them and give them time to display how they will react to being in elected power.