Thursday, January 26, 2006

Hammas? Oh, man, I love that; especially with some pita chips, mmm. What? Oh, that's HUMMUS! oops.

This began as a comment on Virginia Gal's blog, but then I rambled so much, I thought I should just make this my post for today. Saves me a little effort.
I have to agree with Maidink on this one. Is the White House refusing to play with Hammas distateful because it's hypocritical or because it's Bush? I have essentially no tolerance for this administration, but I can't imagine Clinton, for instance saying, "yeah, we'll play ball with Hammas." It's HAMMAS! I'm sure they've got lots of seemingly great plans for Palestine, but even the KKK adopts highways for clean up. (Though to Clinton's credit, he genuinely worked his ass of trying to settle issues between Palestinians and Israelis; for some reason, I suspect if Bush had the same passion for honest discourse in Holy Land - and not just initial brownnosing of Sharon - tempers wouldn't be flared enough to elect Hammas.) Sinn Fein probably did good things for Northern Ireland, as well, but until they really began to set their guns down, nobody really wanted to play ball with them. And those who did, I'm sure were cautious. No one person, or party even, is beyond redemption, but that entity has to show they are willing to compromise. Nothing I've heard this morning sounds like Hammas is eager to do that.

Ultimately, the problem with wanting to spread democracy is that it may not always produce the effect we want. It ain't the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants: one pair of jeans don't look good for real on different body types! Few of us want to admit, though that democracy, at least the Jeffersonian kind we have, may not be the best for every country. And communism and dictatorship is not necessarily the only other option, frankly.

What smells truly bad isn't the desire of any given White House for democracy to spread, it's the notion that we can forcefully spread it. Perhaps that's why this White House's rebuff of yesterday's elections looks hypocritical? Like: look, you want it in this region so badly that you're willing to force-feed it, and then when someone does it on their own, you scoff at them.
Interestingly enough, yesterday on NPR, I heard a topic for discussion for a show today and I wish I could remember the show: Democracy is great, but what happens when the wrong people win?

As for myself, I can't say I'm excited. Sunnis in Iraq are pissed that their peeps didn't carry the national election like they thought - "hey, did you guys know we were the minority this whole time? who knew?" - so we'll be dealing with a Shiite majority govt, there. Iran is run by a democratically elected, Jewphobic revisionist who is nuke happy. Israel is in limbo, and it looks like the Yitzak Rabin days aren't coming back anytime soon, and now Palestine has a government that would concur with Iran's statement about the geopolitcal cartography of Israel. Oh, and to top it all off, the world's most embarassing Texan - can you imagine he's topped even Anna Nicole Smith on my list? - leads the free world, and by extension, the most stabe example of democracy. Happy w/ yesterday's vote? Nope. But I can't say I'm excited about where most countries are going these days.

But I want to end optimistically: Congratulations, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf! May you lead Liberia to a brighter future!


Virginia Gal said...

Nope,I disagree with you and Maidink (which I shall say on my blog). I think if we want change we need to learn to play with everyone. And this administration plays with some people who are a lot worse than Hamas - at least Hamas says to your face, "hey we are bad." Saudi Arabia just smiles and does it behind your back.
How can we make a difference if we don't even allow the players to come to the table? Hamas is not the only government in the middle east that wants the termination of Israel, why blackball just them? Why not blackball some of those oil-rich countries?
I just love that Bush and co. go on and on about democracy but when it comes back to bit them in their but, they have no response but something childish.

Not with a bang but a whimper said...

When If you look at our policy in South America over the last century - under either party - it's clear that spreading Democracy in that Jeffersonian ideal was never an objective (although it sure makes a great rationalization for satisfying liberals and conservatives alike). And it's also clear that our interests (and whether or not we push a "Democracy" or a dictatorship - as in Nicaragua) drive our decisions - not some ideology of liberty.

The US government has repeatedly supported the overthrow of democracies when the wrong party wins. The wrong party is always a party which goes against what we want -- you know, like giving profits from oil in South America to the people in the form of education and health care, instead of padding the pockets of American capitalists.

The issue is (and always has been) control over our interests. The reason we support Saudi Arabia is that we have some control there. Democracy or not, we lack control over Hammas and that means they are an enemy. The fact that they support terrorism is irrelevent.

Also, while I agree with you that Clinton may have taken peace in the middle east a bit more seriously, it's arguable that Bush has been a mitigating factor. When Sharon was elected, most people saw that as a declaration of war; if it weren't for the White House's influence over Israel I think things would be even worse in that particular region.

Not with a bang but a whimper said...

[And by "particular region" I only mean Israel/Palistine; obviously that would be a completely wrong statement to apply to the Middle East as a whole. Although, separating Israel/Palestine from the whole of Middle East politics is in and of itself shortsighted and naive].