Hamas, Cali Cartel, and Winning the Support

With Hamas looking to field candidates in the upcoming palestinianelection, why are we responding by demanding their candidates be
excluded? We did not do this in Iraq? Is this an example of free
elections? Are we demonstrating how to conduct a democracy?

Sitting in an overseas hotel with BBC World on, I see this headline
followed immediately by the admission and stern defense by Bush that he
authorized wiretaps without FISA warrants. The impact of this is clear:
do as we say not as we do. How can the US continue to consider itself a
world leader as it continues to conduct itself in this manner?

Powell’s December 2005 interview with the BBC is a case in point. His annoyance and frustration with the intel he was given was not also inclusive of the IC’s (intelligence community’s) own questioning of the quality of intelligence [this point is emphasized by Col. Lawrence Wilkerson’s comments]. How, he asked, are we supposed to maintain the moral authority to provide a model to follow when we use questionable, in our clear understanding, intelligence; when we use Gitmo, when we use European territory for "secret prisons"? Implicating European ministers into the CIA prison issue, he calls it the "Casablanca Moment" when the inspector exclaims, "Whoa, this is happening here?"

As Alexander Cooley wrote in Base Politics in Foreign Affairs, overseas bases are a definitive element of public diplomacy the typical American citizen is completely unaware of. Cooley correctly observes our foreign bases are frequently foremost in the eyes and minds and hearts of many in the international community, and not just in the country of our foreign base. These bases are particularly sensitive in oppressed countries granting us these rights. 

Turning back to Hamas, they get the nod from the people, their local constituents, not because of their violence, but because they clean the streets and donate to the public good. They address the broken windows like the former Cali Cartels in Columbia. What does the United States do in response? We emply French-style hypocrisy to demand the exclusion of their candidates. The Palestinians see colonial overtones (how many Americans really know the region’s history and how the French and British mandates established the current havoc just a couple of generations ago) when we reject their point of view.

There is a way to win the hearts and minds. This isn’t it. We do not have to accept Hamas, in fact we can continue to deny them participation in the electoral process, but we need to provide alternatives. What are their alternatives? What leadership have we provided? What have we really done to address the corruption of the PA? When the US talks, why should they listen?

[I wrote this post mid-December 2005, but neglected to post it. So now
it posted. So here it is, especially relevant today as Hamas goes into
Palestinian elections tomorrow, 25 January 2005.]

4 thoughts on “Hamas, Cali Cartel, and Winning the Support

  1. RunnerMay have to differ
    1. The NFA warrantless wiretapping may indeed be legal. I think half of the problem is that the public are unaware that their phones can be legally tapped at all. The FBI have done it for years.
    see http://blogs.washingtonpost.com/earlywarning/2006/01/pr_a_pat_on_the.html#more and my comment as “Pete” below it.
    2. Good news in the Middle East has a habit of disintegrating – Hamas as a newly minted good citizen one day may degenerate into a corrupt PLO the next.
    3. You have a point about CIA rendition and what I call “outsourcing torture” though. The US is not setting a good example to pontificate.

  2. SP- my response was getting quite wordy, so I created a post to cover it and include the Hayden item you referenced above. See More on NSA wiretaps.

  3. Matt (is it?)Thanks for your explanation.
    Given what you’ve said I need to delve into the subject more before I can claim the “warrantless tapping is legal”.
    Given the US has rarely said its in a state of war (eg I don’t think states of war were declared for Vietnam, Korea and certainly not Iraq) its arguable that the US is in a defacto state of war in Iraq and against terrorists.
    War is a normally declared against countries (or states) but when a terrorist body kills 3,000 people on your own soil isn’t it valid to say your in a “state of war”?
    Could the legal changes keep up with this new conceptualisation?
    Is the Executives “word” and directives sufficient?

  4. Keep in mind the Vietnam conflict and the Korean Police Action were very different than the Global War on Terror and post-Mission Accomplished Iraq. Vietnam was a state on state (NVA) / irregulars (VC) conflict. Korea was PRK and PRC. Declaring a state of war, or not, was a political decision. Some, including the Administration if I understand correctly, have not “officially” declared a state of war because there’s not a concrete enemy. Now, a declared state of war is rare and not the norm. Does body count determine “war”? “Conflict”? What is the war on drugs? War on poverty? War on Terror? How much is “legal changes [to] keep up with…new conceptualisation” and how much is PR? Have we empowered the Chief Executive to do all he has claimed? There are now arguments reading the AG’s memo and seeing an argument for a blanket exception that goes beyond counter-terror. In other words, the AG’s argument defending the NSA, er, the Terrorist Surveillance Program actually argues for wider snooping. Also, why did the Framers create a system of checks and balances w/ judiciary, legislative, and executive branches? What would Bush and Co say if a Democrat did this?

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