Monday, January 30, 2006

But the exit polls said Fatah would win!

So, Condoleezza Rice and the administration were caught off guard by the Hamas victory in the Palestinian election. "I've asked why nobody saw it coming," she says. "It does say something about us not having a good enough pulse." Nice work.

And now she thinks cutting off aid will keep Hamas from winning more elections:

The total outside assistance to the Palestinians runs to more than $1 billion a year. Now Ms. Rice will meet in London on Monday with top officials of Europe, the United Nations and Russia to call on Hamas to abandon its vow to destroy Israel and to disarm and negotiate a two-state solution in the Middle East, or risk having this aid cut off.

If the Bush administration wants to get the results they want from Middle Eastern elections, cutting off aid isn't going to do it. In fact, I suspect that will result in more hostility toward the United States. Perhaps the administration should realize that those countries are watching the United States and its democracy. Maybe they should conduct themselves in a manner befitting a democracy. Maybe they shouldn't detain the wives of insurgents. Maybe they shouldn't mislead their population into launching preemptive wars. Maybe they should ask for the best intelligence, not just intelligence that supports their bellicose foreign policy. Maybe they should appoint people who are qualified, instead of appointing loyalists who will bend to their every whim. Maybe they shouldn't wiretap domestic calls without warrants. Maybe they shouldn't entrust religious groups to combat AIDS (or, to make a larger point, maybe they should look around the world to see what happens when religion drives governance). Maybe they should plan for worst case scenarios, not best case scenarios. Maybe they should build levees that work in New Orleans. Maybe they should be concerned that even Gawker sees right through their self-recriminations on Hamas.

Maybe the problem is that they only hear what they want to hear, for fear of having their pie-in-the-sky, faith-based theories and philosophies discredited by the reality on the ground.

Maybe Americans will help convince folks in the Middle East that we know the power of a democracy by voting out the charlatans in 2006 and 2008 (and replacing them with a slate of slightly less destructive charlatans).

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