Again, Not Too Bright

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After Hamas’ stunning victory last week in Palestinian elections, a flustered U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, tried to explain the Bush administration’s latest Mideast fiasco.

"I’ve asked why nobody saw it coming," she offered plaintively.

Dear Miss Condi, many of us saw Hamas’ victory coming. You didn’t because you failed to face facts.

Your boss, George W. Bush, made similar lame excuses trying to explain his embarrassing failure to find WMD in Iraq by claiming all western intelligence services believed Iraq had them — which was untrue.

For a nation that spends $40 billion annually on intelligence to be so wrong about so much is utterly inexcusable. Condi, go stand in the corner with Colin Powell.

Hamas won because of Washington’s total failure to push Israel into any meaningful concessions under its dead-ended "Road Map to Peace," fatally undermining Bush’s favourite, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party.

Palestinians were fed up with corrupt Fatah leadership which appeared too cozy with the U.S. and Israel. The more Washington bribed or arm-twisted Fatah leaders to comply with its wishes, the more Palestinians backed hardline Hamas. The feuding ninnies and crooks running Fatah stood in sharp contrast to Hamas’ disciplined, efficient, uncorrupt cadres.

When it became clear Israel’s leadership would continue PM Ariel Sharon’s plans to colonize the West Bank and confine Arabs in three isolated tribal reservations, Palestinians voted for Hamas.

Why didn’t Rice see this obvious fact? Because, like the rest of the administration and U.S. media, her view of the Mideast is warped by ignorance, inexperience, and intense pressure from neoconservatives and religious groups pressing for a crusade against the Muslim world.

Misinformed

America’s shocked reaction to Hamas’ win shows how misinformed and misled it is about the Mideast.

The propaganda term "terrorism" has so fuddled the minds of Americans that any rational analysis of Mideast events has become as impossible, as it was during the 1950s and ’60s to rationally analyze enormous developments within the communist world, like the Sino-Soviet split.

Hamas’ victory provoked hysteria in New York City last week. Local papers trumpeted, "Terror Nation," and "Terror Wins," absurdly claiming Hamas threatens the very existence of Israel.

Hamas is responsible for many criminal bombings of Israeli civilians. It refuses to recognize the existence of the Jewish state. Israel and the U.S. brand Hamas as "terrorists," but to Palestinians, Hamas are reformers and resisters of occupation.

2,000 riflemen

Hamas has around 2,000 men with rifles. Israel has 200 nuclear weapons, armed forces of 568,000, 3,687 tanks, 10,400 armored fighting vehicles, 5,432 heavy guns, and 402 superb combat aircraft. Hamas bombers have killed Jewish civilians, but they do not threaten the Jewish state.

During the intifada, twice as many Arab civilians have been killed as Jewish civilians. Ironically, Israel helped create Hamas to rival the PLO, and aided creation of Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The Arab world has suffered some of the world’s most brutal and corrupt regimes. Mideasterners yearn for honest governments that represent them, not foreign interests. Islamic parties appear to offer these qualities, though they have yet to be proven.

In the only fair election before Palestine — in Algeria, 1991 — Islamists won a landslide. Algeria’s military junta declared martial law and annulled the vote, igniting a ghastly civil war that killed 150,000.

It’s both sad and amusing watching the White House, which has championed democracy as a cure-all to its Mideast problems, threaten to cut off aid and contacts with a new democratic government because it disagrees with Washington.

Cutting aid will only strengthen Hamas.

Hamas needs to renounce bombing. The U.S. and Israel need to begin talking to Hamas’ moderate wing.

Name-calling is not policy.

Eric Margolis [send him mail], contributing foreign editor for Sun National Media Canada, is the author of War at the Top of the World. See his website.

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