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.]