Conservative blogs, columnists and political commentators are falling over each other to ‘rationalize’ a framework where both Hamas and recent Bush line of spreading democracy fit together. It is a laughable proposition. Some perspective is needed here. Let us start with Bush line of thinking in recent years.
- President Bush started his first term by disdaining any ‘nation building’ role for America. In fact he wanted to be consciously low key on foreign affairs.
- 9/11 changed everything and it was fair for him to make foreign policy as the center piece of his presidency there after. The change was warranted and was valid.
- The most lasting part of President Bush’s response to 9/11 is to articulate the concept of ‘war on terrorism’. To elevate the response of a strong nation state like USA to the attacks of 9/11 to the level of all out war has a distinct hallmark of Bush thinking, Republican ideology and Conservative agenda. Further, History judges this ‘call’ as fundamentally a right call and it will be construed so in future too. There is a sufficient basis for America to think that traditional Liberal approaches to Foreign Policy would not have yield such a focused and sharp response. All credit goes to President Bush and Conservative thinking here. By making it a war on terrorism, Bush kind of prepared America to put everything at stake; at conceptual level at least. He did not see this as a mere home land security issue.
- The next logical thing President Bush did was to formulate the ‘axis of evil’ thesis – pointing out Iraq, Iran and N. Korea. It can be debated whether it is a good tactic to point out rogue states so explicitly. But who can deny the advantages of getting public backing to state efforts of ‘war on terrorism’ in so crystal clear and open manner? In the end it is an effective policy for a leader to state openly who the enemies are and who one needs to defeat so that all energies of a society can be rallied behind such all out war efforts.
- In between ‘war on terror’ and ‘axis of evil’; Bush Presidency was hitting bull’s eye as far as toppling Taliban and helping the nation building of Afghanistan in whatever small measure. That war was conducted well, within the limited cost, by way of working with local resistance forces.
- Except for the failure of Tora Bora, Bush Presidency achieved many goals of ‘war on terrorism’ in the Afghanistan theater.
- That is not so the case with Iraq. Despite Iraq squarely belonging to the ‘axis of evil’; President Bush in the end had to admit that it was a controversial decision to go Iraq war. What this admission signifies is not so much whether President Bush was wrong or not; but the glaring possibility that probably American President did not make the full proof case for that war and started it bit prematurely. Considering the solemn obligation of a head of state to be extremely judicious in the business of war, destruction and death; any short coming in regards to exhausting all options on the table is indeed a serious failure of a leadership. It can be argued whether all options were indeed exhausted at that point (all the resolutions of UN in the earlier decade); but the general feeling with majority of Americans and sane minds of the world is President would have been good to work out all non-war options little further before committing American blood, Iraqi deaths and American Tax payers’ dollars.
- Lack of political sophistication and maturity is unacceptable in the positions of leaderships in an open and democratic society like America. Sitting in Oval Office, it might be an easy option for a President to instigate a war rather than risk another 9/11 or a mushroom cloud. But that is an easy, low route. Alas, we all are past such naivety in foreign affairs in today’s complex, interdependent world. Sophisticated and mature leadership must not fall to any temptation of cheap alternative in policy matters. Looking back, it is hard to disagree with those critics of Bush Administration who said that President Bush was starting the Iraq war in haste. Last few years of the war have vindicated these critics. He accepted the easy option of starting the war early instead of showing the due diligence, appropriate care and over all preparedness.
- Further, in the ‘chosen wars’ it is not necessary to go to the war with whatever ‘army one has’. Military failures while conducting the Iraq war and subsequent occupation are sad chapters of Bush presidency.
- What followed after the first year of Iraq war has been political self destruction of Bush Presidency. If the Administration were to be more forthright like what it had been in the wake Rep. Murtha’s call last year, Americans would have accepted the policy in much lenient manner. In absence of any such deferential tone, what America got was the Bush mouse trap of ‘democratization of Middle East’. Political compulsion of re-election wrongly propelled President Bush to make more and more comic and rote public utterances that Iraq war is all about spreading democracy in Middle East as if in the after lives of Americans who died in Iraq war places were guaranteed in heaven next to God Almighty! The Bush talk started to look messianic they way Hamas exhorts Palestinians to undertake suicide attacks so that seventeen virgins are waiting for a young man risking his life! One is startled to see some similarities between the way President Bush sells deaths of Americans in the Iraq war and the way Hamas rationalizes deaths of Palestinians in suicide attacks.
- So in a nut shell, President Bush very conveniently came ‘democratization of Middle East’ line as an excuse when his first story of Saddam’s WMDs turned out to be wrong and when public realized that America is holding the bag due to hasty engagement of the war. In the first place Administration talks about democratization as a ruse; forgets how much excessive selling it is doing to American public along these lines; gets overtly emboldened by the Orange Revolution in Ukraine and Cedar Revolution in Lebanon to the extent of thumping the chest and finally when Palestinians legitimately elect known terrorists; scrambles to move out of the self created box. This is where Hams victory has presented it’s reality to check to the opportunistic and deceptive politics of Bush Administration.
To be fair, President Bush and his administration are trying to face the reality in a bit saner manner than many others who argue that:
- that Hamas would change once in power;
- that they will mallow same as like PLO of Arafat and
- that it is an opportunity to deal with aspirations of Palestinian people and so on.
As suspected many on Left adhere to such a failed line of thinking as well as some conservatives. The reality is Hamas victory has conclusively showed that democratization need not be the panacea of peace. President Bush should not try to hide behind ‘spreading of democracy’ as a policy when in the first place Iraq war started for wrong reasons. It may be hard to supporter of President Bush to accept that ‘spreading democracy’ turns out to be what it is – a political tool to get re-elected; a political diversion to cover failures of Iraq policy; a blatantly cynical ploy misusing valuable ideas for pure self benefit. Otherwise how on earth one would reconcile with the idea that the president who talks about democracy does not mind schmoozing with unelected leaders of dictator countries like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and so on? Talk of spreading democracy has been an attempt by this administration to throw sand in our eyes so as to cover many other disasters. Hamas victory exposes that and hopefully would persuade this administration, neo-cons and their ideological puppets stop throwing this sand in our eyes.
There are signs that Administration would deal with situation in a right manner – President Bush declaring that:
- America would not deal with a government which denies Israel’s right to exist and which sponsors terrorism and
- America would withhold her financial assistance to Palestine.
There is no other right way than to suspend normal political interactions with Hamas lead Palestinian government. America and World will need to wait and watch till Hamas quits terrorism.
For over a week Hamas has been pounding that West must respect Hamas ‘as is’ because they got elected based on the procedure which West adheres to – popular election. Well, some one needs to tell Hamas that getting elected in democratic manner is not a favor Hamas doing to rest of the world. If they want to destroy any legitimacy of their political institutions; that will be betrayal of Palestinian people. So Hamas needs to stop badgering West about their electoral victory. Hamas got elected in a due manner is a good thing in the end for Palestinian people. So far so good. Next, they need to submit to international way and means of working in a comity of nations – to recognize right to exist of other countries and not to resort to violent means for political purposes. Hamas is not the only paragon of justice beholder in the world with rest of world without any sense of justice and what is right. At any time any political organization froths with monopoly over Truth and Justice; we know that we got an extremists organization with a seed to its failure. Rest of the world needs to hang on, hold tough and not let go the strong adherence to principles all nations need to submit. Hamas cannot be an exception.
San Jose, CA 95111
February 01, 2006.