January 27th, 2006

More thoughts on the Hamas victory: liberal and illiberal democracy

Via Austin Bay, I came across this article from the Telegraph, on the Hamas victory:

It was not supposed to be like this. For the past two years, America has pursued the idea that democracy is the answer to Islamist terrorism. Now the Palestinian people have spoken clearly – and they have voted for the terrorists.

It’s true that the US has encouraged the spread of democracy in the Middle East and elsewhere. But it’s a major oversimplification to imagine that America–or, for that matter, those dread neocons–think democracy by itself is any sort of answer to anything at all, except a way to give Jimmy Carter some more business in his old age.

To anyone who may have misunderstood, I declare here and now that democracy, by itself, is not “the answer.” It is, however, part of the answer.

A more complete “answer” would go something like this: it’s democracy, coupled with protection of human and civil rights (including those of minorities and woman), and widespread education that avoids indoctrination in mindless hatred. The goal is liberal democracy. The spread of what might be called “illiberal democracy” (see this lengthy article by Fareed Zakaria) is not the same as the spread of liberal democracy.

We all know that illiberal democracy is possible in the Middle East. The question is how to implement liberal democracy, whether it is realistic to think it can happen, and which elements have to be in place before a democracy can be considered to be liberal.

This is a complex subject for a longer post, to be sure. I don’t have time to tackle it properly today. Suffice to say that democracy cannot mean only “one person, one vote, one time.” That is why we have spent so much effort working with the Iraqis on a constitution that protects human rights and the democratic process itself, even before the popular elections of representatives to a legislative body. Because without these guarantees, it all is close to meaningless.

The PLO has worked hard ever since Oslo to prevent anything that might be considered civil or human rights, or liberty, from taking root in the territory under its sway. In addition to corruption and terror (both internal and external), the PLO dedicated the Palestinian educational system to the preaching of a hatred so deep that it has tainted and warped an entire generation, perhaps beyond repair. Now, Hamas has reaped the benefits of the PLO’s hard work.

So, what has democracy wrought for the Palestinians? Time will tell.

But it is difficult to be the least bit optimistic. The terrible reality is that, for quite a while, there have been no good alternatives in the region. A tyrant such as Arafat put in place a system in which people of good will tended to be murdered or silenced, and corruption was rampant and fanned the fires of rage–which were also carefully stoked by the educational system and the media. A benevolent despot was not going to take power; and the alternative, democracy, was destined to be of the very illiberal sort.

Democracy by itself is not the solution. But it is a beginning, even for the Palestinians, because they now have the responsibility for their own fate. If there are ever to be solutions in the Middle East (and for a long time now I have despaired that there will be any that are not destructive), the path must start with an end to the idea that the Palestinians are passive victims of others. As the Telegraph article states:

If Islamists want to take part in democratic life, then they must learn to live by its rules. The question is not whether Muslim radicals should be elected to power, but what they do in office and whether they can be voted out.

Political Islam has thrived as a protest movement of the disgruntled and dispossessed, attracted by the simple message that “Islam is the answer”. In power, however, Islamists have to find real answers to real problems of jobs, poverty, health and illiteracy….

With Arafat, or even his successor, Mahmoud Abbas, there has always been a debate over whether the Palestinian Authority was unable, or merely unwilling, to stop the violence. Palestinian leaders have turned weakness into a diplomatic art-form, telling Israel and the West they needed more concessions in order to have the authority to take on Hamas. With the terrorists in office, there should be no such ambiguity. When the suicide bombs go off, the address for protests will be obvious: the office of the Palestinian prime minister.

In theory, an agreement with Hamas should be more durable. But can Hamas, like Fatah before it, give up the idea of destroying Israel?

I make a prediction here, and I hope I am wrong: the answer is “no.”

We do live in “interesting” times indeed, and this election has been more “interesting” than most.

47 Responses to “More thoughts on the Hamas victory: liberal and illiberal democracy”

  1. pst314 Says:

    Perhaps Palestinian Princess can also explain why it is okay for Muslims to criticize and even defame other religions, but it is unacceptable (and to be punished by death) for anyone to criticize Islam. Or to leave Islam for another faith.

  2. Ymarsakar Says:

    If you want to convince most people who aren’t pro-Israel that Israel’s actions are justified (and the Palestinian resistant unjustified), you’re going to have to start by proving that belief false. I’ll leave that to somebody else to do, because I’m too lazy (and I’m sure other people have studied Israeli/Palestinian history more than I have).

    If you can kidnap me a journalist that I can use as a human shield against Palestinian suicide bombers, then the belief can be changed. Otherwise, dead Jews don’t really matter on the national scene. You got to get a couple of hundred, if not thousands, of journalists killed before you can get the world wide opinion that suicide bombing=bad instead of suicide bombing=noble pursuit using available means.

    But personally, I’m not going to ask a 15 year old to have his family killed just so the media can tell him to stop occupying Palestine. (Fill in the blank for occupation now).

    There goes the jews behind the wall, and just another terroist attack. Wow, did the media say anything? Might it be because no journalists died or anyone they cared about?

    One death you know is a tragedy, a million Jewish deaths is just a statistic.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Hell, before the IDF started their military campaign against the Palestinians, they were suffering two to three successful terrorist attacks per day. Now it’s dropped to only one successful attack (and 50 – 100 unsuccessful ones) every two months.

    The numbers don’t lie. The military campaign and the “aparteid wall” are great successes in protecting the Israelis.

    Of course, among those who measure their own success in the numer of dead Jews piled up (a group certainly not limited to the Palestinians), the Israeli military campaign has been a horrific disaster that needs to be stopped at all costs.

  4. pst314 Says:

    Palestinian Princess: Before the repeated attempts to “drive the Jews into the sea” and the promises of genocidal killing, there was the violent rage at the idea of infidels–especially Jews–who “didn’t know their place” and a tradition that violence was right and proper to “keep the infidels down.” If that would change then your situation would change.

  5. grackle Says:

    The Princess is very upset that security checkpoints are inconvenient, apparently without a thought of why the checkpoints became necessary. Imagine the resulting storm of terrorist bombs if Israel were to do away with security measures. But that necessity is not important to the Princess, just the inconvenience caused. “Princess” is an apt handle because this concern for personal convenience over security measures certainly reflects a royal attitude.

    In her blog the Princess rails against the possible effect of toy guns on Palestinian children. No Princess, it’s the real guns that have been brandished by masked groups of Palestinian thugs parading for years with impunity through Palestinian streets that may have had a deleterious effect of the Palestinian children. Compared to the real guns the possible psychological effects of the toy guns are negligible. This laughably irrelevant objection to the toy guns must surely be a testament to the “Nanny State” beliefs the Princess evidently picked up from the leftist environment encountered during her Ivy League university days.

    How can it be expected that Palestine can be a nation when they have long tolerated armed and masked groups of thugs to parade in their streets?

    How can it be expected that Palestine can be a nation when the majority of Palestinian voters have elevated those thugs, who are openly devoted to the destruction of a neighboring country, into running their government?

  6. Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) Says:

    Her highness did not seem to deny Palestinian attacks upon Israel, which is why Israeli’s must take up the type of security measures she mentions.

    There’s a major point to be made here, that I’m surprised nobody mentioned it earlier (at least I didn’t see them do so): there’s a widely held belief among those that are not pro-Israel (less so for the neutral ones, but still there) that if Israel ceases its occupation and military actions against Palestinian terrorists, the terrorist attacks will disappear. Thus, Israel is the oppressor, and the attacks against it are natural consequences (if in bad taste).

    If you want to convince most people who aren’t pro-Israel that Israel’s actions are justified (and the Palestinian resistant unjustified), you’re going to have to start by proving that belief false. I’ll leave that to somebody else to do, because I’m too lazy (and I’m sure other people have studied Israeli/Palestinian history more than I have).

  7. Ymarsakar Says:

    Because we don’t have it here. If you want to go to a neighboring city, 15 minutes away, you must go through the checkpoints, and you must take a taxi after passing through it walking, yeah for my 26 year old self its ok, but watch a crippled old 89 year old do it, and it becomes another issue…

    Palestinian Princess offers a useful viewpoint. To those who study war, human psychology, and the necessary power requirements to destroy and break a person’s will as well as their nation’s, find such testimonies very enlightening. But perhaps not for the reasons Princess thinks.

    HAMAS and HEZBOLLAH are very good at what is known as guerrila warfare. Combining armed operations against the “enemy” with armed propaganda teams.

    The armed combatives are strikes against the Israelis. They target civilians so that Israel will strike back and destroy Palestinians children, giving them a propaganda victory for the armed propaganda teams. The armed propaganda teams go around the villages, rousing the support of the people, and preach how it is they who will defend the people against the oppression of the enemy. This misses the fact that in Israel vs Palestine, there would be no need for checkpoints and security if Palestine and the Arabs stopped trying to kill Israeli men, women, and children. But that is easily avoided, given the skill of armed propaganda teams. Various methods are available to such teams. They can reconstruct people’s homes, give them money, aid them in their businesses and family matters, and provide basic other CIVIL/Government services. Which HAMAS does quite well. The perception that the armed propaganda teams of HAMAS are less radical than the armed combat teams is false, they work together.

    Everyone understands that a weapon that may be used to protect them, may also be turned against them. Thus HAMAS keeps popularity with a mixture of terror (sort of like the Mob), individual promotions and benefits (Like the Mob Self-Made Man), and through the creation of an external enemy to fight against (Israeli).

    Guerrilla warfare is essentially a political war. Therefore, its area
    of operations exceeds the territorial limits of conventional warfare, to
    penetrate the political entity itself: the “political animal” that
    Aristotle defined.

    In effect,the human being should be considered the priority objective
    in a political war. And conceived as the military target of guerrilla war,
    the human being has his most critical point in his mind. Once his mind has
    been reached, the”political animal” has been defeated, without necessarily
    receiving bullets.

    Guerrilla warfare is born and grows in the political environment; in
    the constant combat to dominate that area of political mentality that is
    inherent to all human beings and which collectively constitutes the
    “environment” in which guerrilla warfare moves, and which is where
    precisely its victory or failure is defined.

    This conception of guerrilla warfare as political war turns
    Psychological Operations into the decisive factor of the results. The
    target, then, is the minds of the population, all the population: our
    troops, the enemy troops and the civilian population.

    This book is a manual for the training of guerrillas in psychological
    operations, and its application to the concrete case of the Christian and
    democratic crusade being waged in Nicaragua by the Freedom Commandos.

    3. Armed Propaganda

    Armed propaganda includes every act carried out, and the good
    impression that this armed force causes will result in positive attitudes
    in the population toward that force; ad it does not include forced
    indoctrination. Armed propaganda improves the behavior of the population
    toward them, and it is not achieved by force.

    This means that a guerilla armed unit in a rural town will not give
    the impression that arms are their strength over the peasants, but rather
    that they are the strength of the peasants against the Sandinista
    government of repression. This is achieved through a close identification
    with the people, as follows: hanging up weapons and working together with
    them on their crops, in construction, in the harvesting of grains, in
    fishing, etc.; explanations to young men about basic weapons, e.g. giving
    them an unloaded weapon and letting them touch it, see it, etc.; describing
    in a rudimentary manner its operation; describing with simple slogans how
    weapons will serve the people to win their freedom; demanding the requests
    by the people for hospitals and education, reducing taxes, etc.

    All these acts have as their goal the creation of an identification of
    the people with the weapons and the guerrillas who carry them, so that the
    population feels that the weapons are, indirectly, their weapon to protect
    them and help them in the struggle against a regime of oppression. Implicit
    terror always accompanies weapons, since the people are internally “aware”
    that they can be used against them, but as long as explicit coercion is
    avoided, positive attitudes can be achieved with respect to the presence of
    armed guerrillas within the population.

    Frequently a misunderstanding exists on “armed propaganda,” that this
    tactic is a compulsion of the people with arms. In reality, it does not
    include compulsion, but the guerrilla should know well the principles and
    methods of this tactic. The objective of this section is to give the
    guerrilla student an understanding of the armed propaganda that should be
    used, and that will be able to be applied in guerrilla warfare.

    The terroists know this well. They have applied it. And they have succeded. Israel sucks at guerrila warfare. They got it up the arse (excuse the vulagrity) in Warsaw and the Concentration Camps, and they’re getting killed just as much, if not as fast, in Palestine.

    The Israeli national character and the Israeli religion does not produce good propaganda or guerrila teams. Like all humans, they get really good with experience, like Massoud and all their wars. But there is a Genkai, a Limit to all things human. And Israeli has reached it concerning guerrila warfare.

    Either they must totally obliterate villages to use terror, and to make the people of Palestine fear the Israelis more than the propaganda of HAMAS seeks to make the Palestinians fight against Israel. Make them fear Israel more than HAMAS, and people will not support HAMAS.

    Israel’s other option was to counter guerrila tactics with guerrila warfare. America has had experience, extensive in some areas, concerning guerrila warfare. Our Revolutionary War, our support of Afghanistan in the Cold War, our people living off the people in Polynesia under Japanese occupation stiring up guerrila wars and fights. And so on. America is good, too good perhaps to remember that experience must be retaught or else it is lost. That is why while we got to a shaky start on Iraq, we’re crushing the terroists as their weakened attempts to fend off our armed combative teams and armed propaganda teams fail left and right.

    Frequently a misunderstanding exists on “armed propaganda,” that this
    tactic is a compulsion of the people with arms. In reality, it does not
    include compulsion, but the guerrilla should know well the principles and
    methods of this tactic. The objective of this section is to give the
    guerrilla student an understanding of the armed propaganda that should be
    used, and that will be able to be applied in guerrilla warfare.

    Armed propaganda includes all acts carried out by an armed force,
    whose results improve the attitude of the people toward this force, and it
    does not include forced indoctrination. This is carried out by a close
    identification with the people on any occasion. For example:

    You will never see an Israeli do that. You will always see an American in iraq doing that.

    Cause guerrilas has nothing on America that we haven’t already been through. And HAMAS’s days were numbered when America re-entered the Guerrila Warfare school. They are outclassed, out-inteled, and out willed.

    We have recently gotten palestinian police into my city and now you dont see civilians with guns and what not

    Do you not see, people of America, how very experienced HAMAS and the Palestinians are concerning armed propaganda tactics? When the Israelis are in the city, they create fights that get people killed and then make it seem like it was the Israelis that did it. Then when the Israelis leave, the armed propaganda teams put down their weapons and become normal everyday neighbors. Such is the power of propaganda and psychologicaly operations. “Now you don’t see civilians with guns”, heh, of course not. Why would the armed propaganda teams appear hostile towards the host population?

    Without the host population’s support, guerrilas are fish in a lake drained of water.

    The guerrillas should always be prepared with simple slogans in order
    to explain to the people, whether in an intentional form or by chance, the
    reason for the weapons.

    “The weapons will be for winning freedom; the are for you.”

    “With weapons we can impose demands such as hospitals, schools, better
    roads, and social services for the people, for you.”

    “Our weapons are, in truth, the weapons of the people, yours.”

    “With weapons we can change the Sandino-Communist regime and return to
    the people a true democracy so that we will all have economic
    opportunities.”

    I laugh at the Palestinian people, for they are backing a Revolution that was doomed to failure.

    And they have already been infected with democracy, a revolution without an outside enemy simply becomes a Civil War. America has a disease, and it is called liberty. And those who obtain that disease, will get more than what they bargained for.

    With weapons, we can fight the terroists killing your brothers, sisters, wives, husbands, mothers, and fathers.

    These weapons provide security for your people, so that you may live a full life free of terrorism and Saddams.

    With security, we can construct builds, hospitals, and economic centers for the benefit of your family and children.

    We are winning in Iraq. And Palestine is nothing but a meaningless location, far from the front lines. Israel doesn’t want America’s help, blood, or treasure. All’s fair however, that just means we can fight somewhere else, uplift more worthy people like the Kurds, the Sunnis and the Shia.

    People like Princess, are the center mass of guerrila movements. And America understands it so well, that the full brunt of Syria, Iran, Al-Qaeda, Saudi Arabia, and Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi cannot even bring the Iraqis to their knees, let alone the American superpower.

    HAMAS and Fatah can keep going on about how they are for the people, but eventually they will meet an Iraqi that lived far worse than the spoiled and denigrated Palestinians, and realize that their entire life was a lie. When that happens, don’t look to me to feel pity, others might, but not me.

    Oh, and you know what makes me laugh harder, when Americans think that Al’qaida and Hamas have some sort of connection… i dont know what text books they are reading… idiots.

    We’re not reading textbooks. We’re putting terroists in a pool of water until they start to choke, then we bring him up, and after 2 hours of that, he has told us a lot of things.

    You don’t want to know what the Black Ops people have in their bag of skill tricks, and they will never tell, and I will never ask.

    Hamas really doesn’t want to mess with America, and we don’t ever forget people who have messed with America. We have long memories, we remember our friends as well as our enemies.

    America and Americans may not be invincible, but we are the closest that anyone has ever gotten in the 2,500 recorded years of human history.

    Palestinians may want liberty for themselves, but Americans will never settle for anything less than liberty for the entire human race. Because that is the only way to ensure the safety of our children and our family.

    If that takes another 250 years, then I’m pretty sure America will still be around, kicking and screaming about being a uniter but not a divider.

    And even if we aren’t, Japan, Afghanistan, and Iraq will be. And even if the rest of the world curses our name and our accomplishments, there will still be those who knew the true nature of America and will mourn our loss.

    They will avenge us, if we fall.

    Don’t ever make the mistake of thinking an American is like the Jewish people you’ve seen fight and die in your streets.

    America is the sleeping giant, and Hamas had better pray to Allah we fall back to sleep before we get to Hamas.

  8. Harry Mallory Says:

    Anon 5:20P:

    “Palestinian Princess:
    You are closer to the truth then most Americans.”

    She’s closer to the region than most Americans. Thats about it.

    Her highness did not seem to deny Palestinian attacks upon Israel, which is why Israeli’s must take up the type of security measures she mentions.

    There’s two sides to this argument and Palestinians dont have the upper hand on truth soley because its fashionable in some circles to be so.

    As for whether or not Hamas has any connection with Al. Q., I dont see that it makes a difference. Two sides of the same coin.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    Palestinian Princess:

    You are closer to the truth then most Americans.

  10. Palestinian Princess Says:

    I am not sure if I have anything meaningful to add to this list of comments, but I am for sure not shocked by any of the reactions. I am a Palestinian and since I am a person of this country I am with people who support fetah or hamas everyday… They are just normal people like you and me, but they want something called freedom. Because we don’t have it here. If you want to go to a neighboring city, 15 minutes away, you must go through the checkpoints, and you must take a taxi after passing through it walking, yeah for my 26 year old self its ok, but watch a crippled old 89 year old do it, and it becomes another issue… And if you want to take your car, you need to have permission, which is where you basically petition for a daily permit to take your car to go there… People don’t want to be harrassed anymore. We have recently gotten palestinian police into my city and now you dont see civilians with guns and what not, but when Israel ordres them out so that they can come into the city with there big old hummers to intimidate and make people feel inferior they do, and it does nothing but piss the Palestinians off, because they come around making people feel like “hahaha, you have to do what I say, and if I want I can spit on you, I can call you BITCH, I can point my gun at you and hit and you cant do anything hahahaa” ok, so live that life you NEO whatevers and then tell me that MY PEOPLE and Hamas are the terrorists… Its really the other way around…. I just started my blog but go ahead and visit it, I should be updating daily to let you know what my life is like here, and kind of the ideas that I have to help the people and the image of the Palestinians… Oh, and you know what makes me laugh harder, when Americans think that Al’qaida and Hamas have some sort of connection… i dont know what text books they are reading… idiots.

  11. Ymarsakar Says:

    A lot of people are pretty freaking clueless about the Great Middle East Strategy. I don’t blame them either.

    The whole idea, so to speak, is to fracture Islamic society so that they start fighting amongst themselves, instead of uniting their hate against us. I.E. Soviets vs Hitler.

    Once HAMAS or Fata was elected, the Palestinians could then blame their own people instead of the people others told them to blame.

    This is THE key difference. Get people to go out on a limp, and they’ll worry a lot more about balance than if they were tied to a tree limb.

    A person maintaining his balanced does not have the time to swing at America or to kick us in the balls. If he do that, they will collapse.

    The status quo before, was as other commentators here said. America and Europe were paying the terroists in Palestine, as rewards for killing more Jews than Americans basically. While I’m not a defender of the Jews, I really didn’t like how America is spending money on terroists, terroists whose buddies have killed Americans.

    The Democrats are more interested in fighting Republicans than external enemies. Now we have made Fata and Hamas more interested in fighting for their own individual niche powers than fighting us. We have implanted our disease unto the Middle East, as we did in Japan and Germany. It was as I said before, democracy is a disease, and those infected either die from it or become immune to the disease.

  12. The Gray Monk Says:

    The election of Hamas is, I suspect, a reaction by ordinary Palestinians, to the corruption and self enrichment of the Fatar regime’s leadership. Hamas has been very busy providing help in many forms to the poor and in it’s “armed struggle” is seen as “striking a blow for the oppressed.”

    I doubt very much that they will be able to change their approach now they are in power, and rather suspect that we will see an escalation in violence and possibly even a mini-war. Hamas has as its Paymasters the Wahabiite Saudi Islamists and the even more dangerous Shi-ite Regime in Iran.

    The recent vitiperative outpourings from Teheran should be a warning to us all – this is a regime hell bent on destroying Israel and they are prepared to use the same propaganda and anti-Jewish literature that Hitler did to achieve it. The denial that the Holocaust happened – according to Iran it is a “Western Fantasy Invention” aimed at suppressing Islam. How they work that out I do not pretend to understand!

    The election of Hamas has made the entire region a vastly more dangerous place – and that has terrible implications for the rest of us as well!

  13. Papa Georgio Says:

    Palestinians are in 2nd grade Motor? If so this country was in 2nd grade as will during colonial times trying to claim independent. Luckily for us we decided to build a Republic and not an empire. (Yea right)

    Westbankmama:

    Cutting of funds to Palestinians will give Hamas the accuse they need to persuade the people that Israel has no intention for peace or a happy Palestine. Even after the funds are cut off, Syria and Iran and other parts of middle-east will be more then happy to help them for a “good” cause.

    On the other hand if funding continues, it’ll prove the hypocrisy many want so badly about negotiating with terrorists. The good news is that Fatah and Hamas will be fighting with one another for power giving Israel sometime to prep up for the worse.

    Bad news is once Hamas takes charge, like a ticking time it’s only a matter of time to go off. Israel better start polishing those warheads.

  14. roman Says:

    Dr Victor de la Vega,
    There would undoubtedly be many differences, chief amonst them would be that the Sanhedrim council would not be directing its constituants to fly airplanes into buidings occupied by infidels.

  15. Dr Victorino de la Vega Says:

    Ironically, Hamas types and other Wahhâbi-style Arab fundamentalists are preaching for a born-again Hebrew worldview: in many ways, Palestinians Islamic fundamentalists are much more “Jewish” or Bible-based than your average secular Israeli citizen.

    If it existed today the Grand Sanhedrim would probably side with the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution: same beards, same turbans, same misogynic mania, same neurotic obsession with “God’s Law” and other Pentateuch-based fanatical follies…

    It’s no coincidence Sicari-in-Chief Simon Bin Giora was born in Jordan, just like Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi!

    Dr Victor de la Vega
    Thomas More Center for Middle-East Studies
    http://www.mideastmemo.blogspot.com/

  16. Richard Lawrence Cohen Says:

    Great posts on the Hamas victory. Truepeers at YARGB has posted an excerpt from the Hamas charter and urges spreading it around the blogosphere. I think your readers would be interested.

  17. westbankmama Says:

    Please, please, please put pressure on the powers-that-be to stick to their guns and not give aid to Hamas. Until now the Palestinians have not had to be accountable – terrorists would kill us, and still receive money. The corrupt politicians at the top skimmed, and very little would reach the poor.

    Now that Hamas is in charge, American aid can be cut off, and even the politicians who are worried about being “politically correct” have a perfect reason.

  18. Motor 1560 Says:

    Once, very long ago, at a conference on insurgency in the UK we had taken the usual afternoon break for tea, which in this case mostly consisted of pink gins or a wee dram of the creature. I was keeping silent as befitted one of my lowly status while an old fashioned, ex colonial Colonel Blimp type with experience all over the ME was holding forth.

    Peering into his drink, he said; “You know, it strikes me that your average Arab expects to have a great, bloody boot on his neck, grinding his face into the dirt. Then he can live for the moment when the pressure lets up and he can get a mouth full of ankle before the boot comes down again.”

    Orwell, the former colonial policeman, immdediately came to mind and I bit my tongue sensing that this was a trap for an idealistic young American. Ever since, I’ve found his words coming back once in a while and in the years since, my aborted retort has changed.

  19. Motor 1560 Says:

    Gaining the franchise, the right to vote, has powerful effects on the minds of individual voters.

    Give a group of second graders “the right to vote” in a classroom setting and watch what happens. If no limits are set on the exercise pretty soon it is “all recess; all the time”. There might be a small “Library Faction” put together by the advanced readers and a few Anarchists will begin to wonder about coming to school altogether.

    It’s sort of a Lord of the Flies scenario; and can be tweaked in various ways to study Hobbesian and Rousseauian theories. But even second graders have a rudimentary “Social Contract”; signified by the phrase, “That’s not fair.” and the evergreen, “You’re not the boss of me.” Their individual cultures have already kicked in regarding expectations.

    The problem for the Palis is that there are pre existing factions calling themselves parties. So let’s do another thought experiment. Let’s say that a group of very naive people decide to set up a program under the auspices of some NGO to educate the Pali’s about democracy, rights and responsibilities; further let’s say that they’ve never heard of Marx and the concept of anomie. It’s a simple Citizenship Education Project. They want the Palis to form some kind of small C congress to debate their future.

    What would happen? How long until the faction’s grenades are coming in the windows?

  20. SippicanCottage Says:

    A much better term for progress in governance is: consensual government. One man, one vote, one time is the fervent desire of all totalitarians. The only thing I care about is the ability to remove the people elected in the current one during the next one.

    My aversion to domestic left wing politics in the USA springs from a recognition of a kind of squishy version of the same illiberalism. They’re always looking to get enough of a minority of voters either wholly dependent upon or directly working for the government, so that the fear of any upheaval of the status quo assures a long, slow, grinding descent into ration card ennui. (See: Europe. And see it quick, it might not be there later.)

    Anyone old enough to remember how you were treated by a government agency in the 1970s knows you don’t want someone as entrenched, unassailable, and imperious as even a lowly government functionary deciding whether or not you get a doctor’s appointment.

    This Palestinian election matters only if Hamas can be voted out of office in the next one. Every picture I see shows people in ski masks emblazoned with what I assume in arabic is “kill the infidels,” carrying automatic weapons and sporting bandoliers. I am not sanguine about the prospects for the next election. Ditto, Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba…

  21. Tom Grey Says:

    I’m depressed; the Palestinians voted for war. Choosing war over tyranny and corruption; war rather than aid-dependency and “lies” about wanting peaceful co-existence with Zionist Jews; glorious war (which gets attention and headlines) rather than nation-building and house-building (which is mostly ignored in the media).

    Hamas builds hospitals; that’s great — why didn’t the EU aid money go for hospitals? Because corrupt EU/ UN/ US elites preferred corruption of Fatah, the PA, and Arafat.

    Hamas says they want war with Israel.
    My advice:
    Israel should declare war the next time there is an attack by any Palestinians.

    And ship 100 West Bank Palestinians to Gaza, for each rocket/ bomb attempt; and 1000 West Bank Palestinians for each Israeli death.

    And after every peace conference that doesn’t end in peace, increase the number by that amount (100 & 1000; 200 & 2000; 300 & 3000). Until Hamas wants peace. Peace often happens when “those who want war” fight to the death; their own.

    Update — Neo has a GREAT review of the internal German faction fighting that led to Hitler’s rise to power.

    I remember that many “anti-war” liberals were calling for Bush to support some bastard (who would be “ours”) to be the new Iraq dictator.

  22. terrye Says:

    gcotham:

    We are saying the same thing.

    The founding fathers established a Republic based on democratic principles. The constitution is the foudation. It is not just majority rule.

    Since our government is ruled by representatives we call it a Republic, but the nature of the system which brings them to power is democratic.

  23. Gothamimage Says:

    Very interesting blog Neo. You are a very good writer. Will have to read much more. Maybe disagree. Stop by when you can. Best. GI

  24. gcotharn Says:

    When I was 27 I moved to Miami. I used to breakfast in a bagel shop, and listen in on the mostly Jewish customers around me. I told my friend back in Texas:

    “So many of the bagel shop Jews are paranoid, and seem to believe everyone is out get them. That is so silly. No one is out to get the Jews anymore.”

    Since, I have had so many occasions to reflect on how wrong I was, and on just how many people truly are out to get the Jews. This election of Hamas is just one more occasion amongst many, as are some of the comments in this thread.

    The Palestinians remind of the recently retold joke about the therapists and the light bulb that has to “really want to change.” Things must get worse for the Palestinians before they get better. We can monitor that type of progress, at least.

  25. Goldstein Says:

    Israel will not be terribly hurt by this. They are in the process of implementing a policy that will free them from depending on Palestinian good will. With the barrier and evacuation of isolated settlements the re won’t be too much Hamas can do. They can lob some missles over, but Israel can respond with much more force.

    The real victims will be the Palestinians who voted these maniacs in. Same as it ever was.

  26. Harry Mallory Says:

    All that really matters is that in a previously oppressed country people gained the right to freely choose.

    Previously oppressed by whom and how did that suddenly change? What do they have now that they did not have last week? The governments open blessing to wipe Israel off the map?

    There’s a change alright. The extremist hardliners have been voted in, and liberals are hoping Hamas will grow enlightened with their new found responsibilities.

    I think that’s horribly naive

  27. rickl Says:

    terrye:

    I have to disagree with you. The Founding Fathers were well aware that democracy would lead to mob rule, which is why they created a constitutional republic, NOT a democracy.

    In a pure democracy, nothing would prevent the majority from voting to confiscate my property and redistribute it among themselves. Again, the Founders were well aware of this. In the modern welfare state we are now seeing this coming to fruition. Politicians of both parties pander to the lowest common denominator (in order to buy votes) and promise largesse–paid for by the “rich”, the “corporations”, “big business”, etc.

    So, needless to say, it drives me right up the wall whenever I hear “Republicans” (who should know better) advocate the spread of “democracy”. AIIIEEEE!

    As for the Palestinians, well, choices always have consequences. I am bemused to hear that some people are shocked that Hamas won. I assumed it to be a no-brainer. The overwhelming majority of Palestinians want to see Israel wiped out. Now they have made it official.

    I agree with many blog posts and comments I’ve read in the last couple days. This will greatly clarify matters in the Middle East. The Palestinian people have proven themselves to be supporters of genocidal terrorists, and thus there is no further reason to negotiate peace with them. They must be utterly crushed and destroyed. Only then will there be a chance for peace.

  28. David Holliday Says:

    It is the height of absolute absurdity to compare an oppressive regime that controls its population to a government that serves by the will its people.

    Choice is only choice when freely made. Imposition is when you are provided a choice that really isn’t a choice at all.

    The Palestinian people had a choice between a pile of crap and the hole it was buried in. Nevertheless, it was a choice they created for themselves and they did choose.

    Now they will live with the consequences of that choice, all of them, the winners, losers and choosers. What those consequences will be remain to be seen.

    Those who denounce the opportunity provided, who prefer to return to the previous state of imposed choice, are blinded by an inability to understand that it was the opportunity to choose that really mattered. That moment, when Palestinians could freely choose, was something they had never experienced before. It was a defining moment. The resonance of that moment will linger throughout the Middle East for a long time to come.

    So take your constructs and relativism and sophistry and shove it deep because no one really cares about it anyway. All that really matters is that in a previously oppressed country people gained the right to freely choose. Having executed that right they are no longer they same people.

    The Palestinians have walked through a door. Walking through that door they became another people. Before they were oppressed and subjugated with no hope. Now they are free and have the power to affect those who govern them. What more could they ask for? What an amazing dream.

  29. chuck Says:

    Where do you conservatives, liberals, independents, come down on this one? Universal values? To be imposed?

    I don’t give a damn, actually. We do what we gotta do when we gotta do it; that other crap is irrelevant.

  30. troutsky Says:

    this thread has some tough euro-haters,wow. I think papa georgios point highlights that tension between liberal universalism “the human species is,or could become, a single moral community which shares the same values” ie rights,education etc- versus relativism ,or ‘don’t try to impose your culture, values,etc,which are constructs,on my society”. Where do you conservatives, liberals, independents, come down on this one? Universal values? To be imposed?

  31. Goesh Says:

    It should make it easier now to execute suspected collaberators with Israel and mutilate their bodies in public – majority rules you know. It does appear in light of the clashes between hamas and fatah that all is not well with the terrorstinians – they are starting to implode, shooting at each other and throwing rocks. Oh dear! They are even calling each other bad names and they have forgotten to blame the Jews.

  32. chuck Says:

    And I don’t know why the Europeans are applauding…

    Well, I don’t know how representive the BBC Have Your Say section is, but I have been thinking of Europe as “fascist-lite” for a while now.

  33. terrye Says:

    Democracy is not mob rule. Never has been.

    In its infancy when monarchists ruled Constitutional Democracy was considered a pipe dream. Then America proved it could be done.

    So yes, there is liberal and illiberal democracy.

    I don’t think Hamas can or will reform. I think Israel had better go on building its fence.

    And I don’t know why the Europeans are applauding, they can no longer call the Palestinians innocent victims. And their rock star Arafat has been exposed as a fraud and a murderer. The fact that some of the European left do not see their own dilemna is just proof of their own stupidity.

    I don’t think the US has lost anything. It is nothing to me if we give aid to the Pals. Why should I care if they made it plain to the world that they are indeed a terrorist society, dedicated to murder? They are the losers.

  34. DirtCrashr Says:

    IMO it’s an oversimplification to describe what occurred in Palestine as “Democracy” simply because some of them voted for one terrorist gangster group over another. That’s like the inmates “voting” for the Crips or the Bloods.
    Voting may be appear as a form of democratic behavior, but it belies the basic Palestinian situation as an extensible proxy for a bunch of Israeli-hating regional tyrants, any one of which could have done something in these many intervening years to uplift the “Palestinians,” but all have chosen rather to use them as a poking-stick to get back at Israel.

  35. Judith Says:

    “This is a “worse is (indeed) better” senario for Israel.”

    Does that mean that Hamas is controlled by the Intl. Zionist Conspiracy (TM) ?

  36. Judith Says:

    “it’s democracy, coupled with protection of human and civil rights (including those of minorities and woman)”

    Also property rights. You can’t have any longlasting sophisticated economic activity without banking, lending, deeds, etc. Otherwise everything is dependent on bribery. (see de Soto)

    Civil rights are also dependent on legal protections for private property. There has never been a dictator who didn’t set up a centralized command and control economy.

    The key to a successful Palestinian state was Salam Fayyad, the finance minister, who regularized the PA books and set up a banking system so Arafat wasn’t paying everyone out of bags of cash he carried around. It was an uphill battle. No dictator wants to lose control of patronage to an impartial financial system. Fayyad resigned last year.

  37. cakreiz Says:

    grackle: my reaction precisely. Is anyone really shocked that 70% of eligible Palestinian voters elected a terrorist organization to lead them? C’mon now. These folks have been spoon-fed hatred forever. What surprises me is that the Bush Administration has been taken aback. Extremist Islamic voters elect zealots, not secular moderates. To believe otherwise is to engage in wishful thinking of the worst kind.

  38. strcpy Says:

    One of the interesting things about Troutsky’s analysis is that it means that the palestenians are lost causes – you can’t give them a viable state until they are not terrorists and they will be terrorists until they get a viable state.

    It’s a good thing that analysis is pretty much wrong. There are millions of people over the globe that live in considerably worse conditions and don’t even have the hope of living in a land capable of *being* viable that aren’t terrorist. So, I would say it’s quite possible for them to not be terrorist before we help/give them the ability to wage a much large more effective war (that is a viable state). Though as long as they choose the path they have right now it’s not gonna happen.

    We did create the conditions for a liberal democracy in Serbia (see the republic of Srpska), the Ukrain has one but some groups wants a dictatorship (at worse you have accusations of massive fraund with no evidence other than exit polls), Iraq is still too early to tell, and I don’t follow Kyrgyzstan or Georgia enough to know. Though, of the three I know about I’m not sure why you say a Thermidorian reaction is taking place – I see no parralell to when Robespierre was removed from the head of the French Revolution. And even then it was a reaction towards a more liberal form of govt, yet you seem to be implying it went the other way (the post 9 Thermidor France had problems economically more than politically oppresive)? Of course, if you prefered the Robespierre France (as your post suggests) I can’t say I agree with your form of govt.

  39. Grackle Says:

    I was surprised at everyone’s surprise at the Hamas victory. Once I heard they were on the ballot I took it for granted Hamas would do well.

    I don’t believe Hamas will “reform” any more than I believe Islam will reform. I think Hamas will continue to attack Israel and once Israel is warred on by the government of a sovereign country Israel will have no choice but to put their considerable military might fully into play. If I were an Israeli citizen I would demand nothing less than total war if the Palestine government launches the same attacks as before.

  40. Anonymous Says:

    This is a “worse is (indeed) better” senario for Israel. Israel can now claim that Palestine is acting ‘irrational’. And the United States can be led into giving more aid to Israel and and sympathetic, “let’s roll” ear for their second war of Israeli aggression by proxy of American mercinaries: Using “freedom fighting” (Ha) American troops in a War on Iran. All for and only for the benifit of Israel/Jews/Zionist Corporations.

  41. Anonymous Says:

    Nevermind Israeli/judeoAmerican irrational hatred towards “Magog”. Usrael is the fascist country.

    Hail hamas. Go ahead, butcher Israel, as a non-jewish European American (and therefore hating Americas absolutely hebeish policy) I don’t care. Hail Democracy! Smash “liberal” pro-international jewish, anti-nationalist falseocracy!

  42. Papa Georgio Says:

    Neo Neo-con:

    Illiberal Democracy?
    This is why the neo-con ideology doesn’t hold water. It’s not enough to spread “Democracy”, but rather spreading liberalism.

    Or better yet democracy “we feel” its more appropriate.
    It is this very idea of spreading liberalism that is not part of the Middle Eastern culture.

    But the Neo-con think tank doesn’t give a hoot. It will spread freedom whether they like it or not. It should be clear now to neo-cons that they don’t have the slightest clue about the history and culture of that region.
    Western liberalism doesn’t work with Islam Period. Get that through your think skulls.

    It is also why neo-cons don’t fall in a conservative category.
    Conservative ideology doesn’t fall in “spreading”, but rather defending and protecting.
    (Example defending Kuwait during early 90’s.)

    With Palestinians voteing overwhelmingly for Hamas, only question you need to ask;
    Will you conduct business as usual with the new members of the government?

    If not then Hamas will empower the Palestinians the very massage that they have been trying to spread: The U.S. and Israel overtaking of Palestine. Only hope thats left is for Hamas to reform now that they have political power. But I don’t think the lion will share his kill with the Jackles.
    Indeed it is dark times for Israel.

  43. Huan Says:

    Hamas political victory through election is only the lifting of the veil that they had power-on-the ground even without election. this partly explain why Fatah failed to reign in terrorist attacks on Israel. It is always preferable to see the serpent as the serpent.
    And now seen, the serpent must react to being seen and scrutinized. Life outside the shadows will not be the same.

  44. cokaygne Says:

    Other than mouthing words to appease the EUrocrats, where was the evidence that Fatah were not terrorists? We don’t really know what Palestinian voters were thinking. I hope I’m wrong here, but I wonder about the parallel with the rise of Hitler and Mussolini. Did they not come to power by appealing to national pride in the face of corrupt and incompetent governments? We have to wait and see what Hamas does with its responsibility. That said, there was no hope of real peace with the former Palestinian leadership.

  45. Anonymous Says:

    I read the BBC “Have Your Say” section on the Palestine elections and was stunned by the glee exhibited by the Europeans over Hamas’ victory. Most of it seemed to be thrilled that Hamas won and that this was a slap in the face to the US.

    The moral bankruptcy of Europe is astounding.
    I make snide comment about how anti-Semitic Europe is, but their glee was really beyond the pale.

  46. troutsky Says:

    Perhaps they are not “passive victims” but is “victim” itself a meaningless concept? Have you been there to witness the conditions of their society? They will need a viable state in order to begin developing an economy so they may begin to form a civil society so they may begin to form a “liberal” democracy.Are they being offered a viable state? The rhetoric is poisoned on both sides so look at the concrete conditions without racial or religious bias.Can they attract investment, development aid, favorable trade relations? can you create democracy in a hollowed out slum?

    Did we create conditions for liberal democracy in Kyrgyzstan,or Serbia,Georgia,Ukrain, or Iraq? or has anyone else noticed a “thermidorian” reaction in these places.Yes, they have constitutions,but as you pointed out, more is needed.

  47. コンバース ランニングシューズ 高品質 Says:

    My programmer is trying to convince me to move to .net from PHP.
    I have always disliked the idea because of the expenses.

    But he’s tryiong none the less. I’ve been using Movable-type on
    several websites for about a year and am worried about
    switching to another platform. I have heard good things about blogengine.net.
    Is there a way I can import all my wordpress posts into it?
    Any kind of help would be really appreciated!

    My website: コンバース ランニングシューズ 高品質

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>



About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
Read More >>








Blogroll

Ace (bold)
AmericanDigest (writer’s digest)
AmericanThinker (thought full)
Anchoress (first things first)
AnnAlthouse (more than law)
AtlasShrugs (fearless)
AugeanStables (historian’s task)
Baldilocks (outspoken)
Barcepundit (theBrainInSpain)
Beldar (Texas lawman)
BelmontClub (deep thoughts)
Betsy’sPage (teach)
Bookworm (writingReader)
Breitbart (big)
ChicagoBoyz (boyz will be)
Contentions (CommentaryBlog)
DanielInVenezuela (against tyranny)
DeanEsmay (conservative liberal)
Donklephant (political chimera)
Dr.Helen (rights of man)
Dr.Sanity (thinking shrink)
DreamsToLightening (Asher)
EdDriscoll (market liberal)
Fausta’sBlog (opinionated)
GayPatriot (self-explanatory)
HadEnoughTherapy? (yep)
HotAir (a roomful)
InFromTheCold (once a spook)
InstaPundit (the hub)
JawaReport (the doctor is Rusty)
LegalInsurrection (law prof)
RedState (conservative)
Maggie’sFarm (centrist commune)
MelaniePhillips (formidable)
MerylYourish (centrist)
MichaelTotten (globetrotter)
MichaelYon (War Zones)
Michelle Malkin (clarion pen)
Michelle Obama's Mirror (reflections)
MudvilleGazette (milblog central)
NoPasaran! (behind French facade)
NormanGeras (principled leftist)
OneCosmos (Gagdad Bob’s blog)
PJMedia (comprehensive)
PointOfNoReturn (Jewish refugees)
Powerline (foursight)
ProteinWisdom (wiseguy)
QandO (neolibertarian)
RachelLucas (in Italy)
RogerL.Simon (PJ guy)
SecondDraft (be the judge)
SeekerBlog (inquiring minds)
SisterToldjah (she said)
Sisu (commentary plus cats)
Spengler (Goldman)
TheDoctorIsIn (indeed)
Tigerhawk (eclectic talk)
VictorDavisHanson (prof)
Vodkapundit (drinker-thinker)
Volokh (lawblog)
Zombie (alive)

Regent Badge