Condi Rice exhibited the U.S.’ bi-polar approach to the Palestinians by making this remarkable admission (quoted from Ynetnews):
An elected Hamas government in the Palestinian territories may be preferable to the group operating outside the power structure and carrying out terrorist actions, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Monday.
Rice, speaking to a pro-democracy forum, made the point in arguing that that the United States should not retreat from its advocacy of democracy abroad when elections do not turn out well from the US point of view. Referring to Hamas, Rice said, “I am not so sure that it is better to have these groups running the streets, masked, with guns rather than having them have to face voters and having to deliver.”
While the election that produced the Hamas victory was free and fair, she said Hamas has failed in its responsibility to obtain international acceptability. The result, Rice said, has been that the Palestinian people basically have been deprived of international assistance.
“The interesting point is would we have ever seen Hamas confronted with that dilemma without elections and without coming in to govern,” Rice said.
This actually might’ve been a helpful statement if it’d come closer to the elections Hamas won last winter. It would also be helpful if it represented real U.S. policy. Instead, we support Israel’s effort to criminalize Hamas’ elected representatives by imprisoning them on trumped up charges. We support the strangulation of Gaza by Israel and the rest of the world community. Can someone explain to me how all of this is encouraging Hamas’ continued participation in democratic processes?
So instead of blathering on in nice theoretical phrases that indicate she is not a complete Neanderthal when it comes to understanding the political dynamic, why doesn’t she get off her duff and actually change actual policy. Break the stranglehold on Gaza. Break the diplomatic ostracism and isolation of the Palestinian government. Treat Hamas even minimally in accordance with the sentiments expressed here and the situation might change dramatically for the better.
But as long as she’s only willing to talk and not do, then she might as well be whistling in the wind. That’s how much impact she’ll have.
Given all my cynicism, it occurred to me there may be a way to look at Rice’s statement a little differently. She, of course, would know that the Palestinians intended to announce today that they’d agreed in principle to form a national unity government. It is possible that Rice’s words are meant to prepare the U.S., Israel, the Palestinians and the rest of the world for a gradual shift in approach to Hamas and the PA. She may be anticipating the possibility of the U.S. working with this new government even though it will represent (at least indirectly) the interests of Hamas. If I’m right and U.S. policy does change as the new government is installed, then this would be a very welcome development. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens to real U.S. policy. If it goes in this direction then I’d be happy to take back my other more cynical judgments.
Hat tip, Sol Salbe.