Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Politics of Survival and Genocide

TIME.com: "After the Israel Bombing: Fumbling for a Response":

An interesting analysis: it's worthy of a detailed response.
The expressions of outrage or approval to Monday's Palestinian suicide bombing in Tel Aviv were grimly predictable. But deep down the respective comments reveal the extent to which all the main players in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — including Hamas itself — continue to search for a coherent response to the intractable reality that Hamas now runs the Palestinian government.
Yeah, a "coherent response" to a genocidal terrorist group government that calls itself an agent of liberation--and enjoys majority backing by Palestinians manipulated by murderes for generations; I can see the problem.

Hamas: There's What We Say, and Then There's What We Do
Hamas's Prime Minister Ismail Haniya called the bombing "a legitimate act of self-defense" for which he blamed Israel. Yet Hamas itself has refrained from such "acts of self-defense" over the past year, and indications are that it will continue to do so because a terror campaign would likely force economic and perhaps military measures by Israel and the donor community that would wreck its prospects as a government.
Nah! I buy the Captain's theory better. Why? Well, Mr. Karon himself supplies a vital fact in support of the Captain later in this analysis. Mr. Abbas has done...nothing.

So how will Hamas benefit from refusing to initiate terror attacks? It allows its apologists to mouth-foam about Israeli occupation and extoll Hamas' "restraint." Meanwhile, Hamas' rival political factions send their own homicide bombers, rendering their rivals the targets of Israeli reprisals. Plus, Israelis continue to die. Since Hamas refuses to recognize Israel's existence, and vows to drive the Jews into the sea, the PA government probably regards that fact as a positive.
The movement may be internally divided by the demands of its unexpected ascent to power, but its rivals — both Islamic Jihad, which took responsibility for Monday's attack, and also factions of the Fatah party of President Mahmoud Abbas — have sought to claim the mantle of militancy and undermine the new government's authority by continuing to launch attacks on Israelis.
How does IJ's homicide bombing undermine Hamas? Has the new government pledged to crack down on terrorists? Have they opened negotiations with Israel? Has Hamas now had to shelve some new policy of detente they'd cooked up? Are Palestinians rioting in the streets because Hamas didn't detonate one of their teenagers in Tel Aviv recently? I'm not seeing IJ's action as undermining Hamas at all. If anything, their stupidity provides Hamas with the golden flak jacket of politics: plausible deniability. However implausible Hamas PD may be, the fact remains that their operatives didn't do it.
In fact, the political purpose of the Tel Aviv bombing was as much to undermine Hamas as it was to hurt Israel. And Hamas's own public statements justifying the attack actually played to the advantage of Israeli and U.S. efforts to isolate Hamas.
Again, if IJ thought blowing up Israelis would undermine Hamas, they badly miscalculated. However, Mr. Karon may have a point with his second assertion. Hamas could not afford to condemn the attacks. The incorrigibly corrupt Fatah had done that far too often. Hamas could not do anything even remotely linked with their predecessors without risking the wrath of their supporters. Now, The PA government might not have believed that their defense of the bombing would assist Israel and the US in isolating them. Well, let's just say that they got that wrong.

Dead Wrong! (hat tip to the Captain, once more!)
President Mahmoud Abbas: Condemnation as Usual, but No Action

In contrast to Hamas leaders, President Mahmoud Abbas quickly condemned the bombings as "despicable" and against Palestinian interests, a position he has held for years. But when it comes to restraining terror attacks, Abbas is — and always has been — a lame duck, unable to enforce his position in his own ranks.
Unable? Or unwilling? Abbas knows that Arafat lived and died on the people's rage against the zionist proxy for the American Great Satan. Knowing how tenuous his position within Fatah was, how far would he have stuck his neck out for any deal friendly towards Israel? Sure, easy words and press ops. play well to the cocktail party crowd. They don't change the facts on the ground. Abbas has never seemed like a man willing to do so.
Leaders of the very same Fatah movement that the U.S. hopes to have reelected have for weeks been attacking Israelis, with rockets and even at least one suicide bomber, as part of their campaign to undermine Hamas.
And their idiotic strategy secures Hamas' position at home while subjecting them to Israeli retaliation. Brilliant!
On the other hand, though Hamas won't condemn Monday's attack, it has been largely successful in restraining its militants from mounting attacks of their own.
Of course they have! Why should their guys go die when their rivals will die for them? Is this so hard to understand?
And since Abbas insists, with backing from the Bush administration, on maintaining political control over the Palestinian security services rather than placing them under the control of the Hamas-led government, he is demanding, in effect, that he — rather than Hamas — must be held accountable for preventing terror attacks emanating from Palestinian territory.
Now, if this is true, then Abbas has effectively forfeited any opportunity he has to regain control of the PA. If Fatah continues its pointless attacks, and IJ steps up with a free hand from PA security forces answerable to Abbas, then Hamas can use him as the scapegoat. They'll use Abbas to wedge the knee-knockers from the die-hards in the West. Again, Hamas gains plausible deniability. Meanwhile, Fatah and IJ lose forces while the Palestinians celebrate their government's accomplishment of striking back against the occupiers. Man, do I smell a roast cook-out simmering, and Abbas has placed himself on the spit!
The United States: Stop Backing Terror or We, uh, Won't Talk to You

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack responded to the bombing by saying Hamas's response showed its "true nature," while White House spokesman Scott McLellan castigated Hamas for defending terrorism: "Defense or sponsorship of terrorist acts by officials of the Palestinian cabinet will have the gravest effects on relations between the Palestinian Authority and all states seeking peace in the Middle East," McLellan said. All very well, but the U.S. and Israel have already cut off all relations with the Palestinian Authority since Hamas is now in charge, so it's not exactly clear what he's threatening.
Is Mr. Karon serious? Is he that naive? It's not clear what he's threatening?

Why doesn't he ask Assad what the US is threatening? The so-called strong-man of Syria found out what international isolation can do to a despot trying to hold on to a disgruntled nation. If Mr. Karon believes that Hamas is fighting enemies within and without, then he must surely acknowledge that the US has ample diplomatic means to tighten the noose on them. The US will lead the effort to completely isolate the Hamas-led government of the PA. When the PA can't finance it's own government--an catastrophe for them already in the making--then Hamas will either have to deal realistically with Israel or else fall from power. Either way, the US and Israel benefit. The refusal of the US and Israel to communicate with a terrorist-led government puts the walk to their talk of an international back-turn to the current Thugocracy.
Indeed, if a Hamas-led government is simply, as the Israelis claim, a "terrorist entity" — and applauding terrorism is its "true nature" — then chastising it for its press statements would appear to be a waste of breath.
What is it with these MSM pundits and their pathological need to place "terrorist" in "scare quotes?" Exactly how many Christians, Muslims and Jews in Israel does Hamas have to murder before they acknowledge that Hamas is a terrorist organization? Exactly how many times will they read Hamas' charter and not conclude that they're a terrorist organization? Exactly how many countries have to agree that they're terrorists before the Reasonable MSM pundits sign on to the "International consensus?" If Mr. Karon can't believe that a Hamas-led anything is a terrorist entity, then I can't take his position on Hamas seriously any longer.
By cutting all ties with the PA once Hamas took over, the U.S. discarded its leverage over the Palestinian government — but Hamas isn't going anywhere, and the collapse of the PA would leave Washington with even less of a Mideast peace policy than it already has.
If Hamas isn't going anywhere, then is Mr. Karon now proposing that Fatah and IJ can't undermine it through their terrorist attacks against Israel? If they can undermine it, then why is he now saying that Hamas "isn't going anywhere." And if Hamas fails due to the US severence of ties with the PA, why would the PA fall? Wouldn't the more "moderate" Fatah simply step in as the most organized and institutionally successful manifestations of the Palestinians' struggle? To whom else would the people of Gaza and the West Bank go should Hamas fail? Mr. Karon's argument falls apart from every angle. Methinks that perhaps his desire to stick it to the Bush Administration clouded his judgement on this issue. Why does that not surprise me?
Israel: Hamas is Responsible, But We Won't Retaliate

Israel's Prime Minister-elect Ehud Olmert held Hamas responsible for attack, but declined to order a military response. This might be a canny "give-em-enough-rope" move on Israel's part — Israeli restraint may give Hamas's own reaction time to harden the support of wavering Europeans for a strategy of isolating the new Palestinian government.
This makes sense. The US has already made the isolation of Hamas an objective. Hamas' own rhetoric--perhaps designed to bait the Israeli street--will only make the equivocators in the West look like appeasers.
But Israel's reluctance to take direct action against the Hamas-led government also reflects a certain realpolitik: As much as Israel would like to see Hamas fail, its security chiefs are also aware that there is no credible alternative — President Abbas is a spent force, and taking down the Hamas government means, effectively, destroying the Palestinian Authority itself.
So not seeing this. If Hamas falls, the Palestinians will vote for the last organized faction standing. If that's Abbas, then that's who they'll vote for.
The resulting vacuum would force Israel to resume administrative control of an increasingly violent and chaotic West Bank and Gaza, territories over which Israel continues to maintain sovereign control.
Wrong. But thanks for trying. Gaza now operates under the PA. Did Mr. Karon forget that little unilater withdrawal that former PM Ariel Sharon implemented, which changed the face of contemporary Israeli politics?

As for the "resulting vaccum," why would Israel need to intervene? The security wall that Israel has constructed could well be finished long before a hypothetical PA collapse. Israel could withdraw from nearly all of the "occupied territories" and let the Palestinians reap what they've sown.
And that would wreck Olmert's plans to unilaterally redraw boundaries between Israel and the Palestinians on terms most favorable to Israel.
Only if the PA irretrievably fell before those plans were implemented. I'm not betting on that happening!
Better to allow Palestinian infighting that will likely destroy any chance of creating a coherent Palestinian response to Olmert's plans.
But I thought Hamas wasn't going anywhere? Exactly where does Mr. Karon stand on this Hamas-led government? Then again, we already know that he can't call them terrorists. Is it any wonder he's confused about their capacity to govern?
Then again, even if Israel doesn't bomb the PA, its economic stranglehold might still result in the collapse of the PA, which is exactly what Israel wants to avoid.
What Israel wants is a viable partner for peace from the Palestinians. Instead, the Palestinians gave them Hamas. Until they accept the reality that Israel isn't going away, the Palestinians that support this suicidal struggle of civilizations will continue to mandate that Hamas lead them over the cliff. Therefore, the Israelis will help Hamas, and their deluded supporters, do just that. Should some saner elements of Palestinian society survive, then perhaps they can realistically negotiate with Israel for a mutally acceptable peace accord. I'm not seeing a downside to that strategy.

Mr. Karon's attempt to impose a catch-22 on Israel, Hamas and Abbas falls apart upon an examination in light of the facts. His fundamental flaw appears to be his refusal to acknowledge Hamas' majority-supported position. That support gives Hamas excellent protection from their less organized and more corrupt rivals. Mr. Karon's continuous vexation between an indestructible and inevitably defeated-by-the-US-and-Israel Hamas-led PA undercuts his entire case. It's as though he's saying that the Palestinians really don't want a terrorist supporting Hamas. It's just that that they're so oppressed by Israel that they'll turn to anyone that seems to have integrity and promises to make Israel go away. So they chose Hamas, but they don't really approve of them. That's why Fatah and IJ will try to undermine them--and they'll succeed unless the US and Israel engage with them. If they do, then they'll give Hamas an incentive to negotiate a peaceful settlement. A two-state solution will at last be reached, and peace in our time can be achieved.

If this is the rationale for his analysis, then may I suggest that he start paying attention to the Middle East instead of Fantasyland? Hamas rolled into power on a majority vote by the Palestinians. Their mandate is clear: just read their charter. Since assuming power, they've made no effort whatsoever to rescind the controversial anti-semetic and anti-Israeli provisions of their charter. They've made no effort to negotiate with Israel. They have refused to use their own militants to suppress the terrorist activities of other factions. US and Israeli engagement with them merely wastes time, which Hamas will use to its advantage. There's little chance that IJ or Fatah's terrorist strikes against Israel will undermine their position with the people.

Economic boycott and diplomatic isolation is the most effective way in which the world will compel Hamas to realistically deal with Israel. When the Hamas-controlled PA faces rioting on account of halted services and unpaid government employees, they will need to rethink their position on the Jewish State. When Fatah and IJ begin feeding, clothing and securing the benefits of the people with the support of the world, Hamas will reach out to Israel with a genuine plan. Or they won't...and then Fatah will regain control of the PA in the next election.

Either way, Israel will benefit. Mr. Karon's sad misapprehensions contribute to his bungled understanding of the facts on the ground. If world leaders took his Reasonable analysis into serious consideration, then Israel would be well on it's way to becoming a parking lot.

Thankfully, more Foolish strategists appear to have prevailed. At least, for the moment...