Friday, January 27, 2006

Unsuccessfully Buying Elections

How embarrassing is this? The US, like it has the last couple of times in Iraq, sent several millions of dollars to the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority just before the elections in order to prime the pump for Prime Minister Abbas. This ploy was as unsuccessful in Palestine as it had been in Iraq: Hamas had a stunning victory in what international monitors certified as a fair election.

Once again the US finds itself in the position of having to deal with a new government whose interests are opposed to those of the US. An editorial in the Minneapolis Star Tribune suggests the diffulty the Emperor in Chief faces.

In four-plus years since the attacks of 9/11, President Bush has built American foreign policy around two principles: promoting democracy and fighting terrorism. The principles are correct and inspiring, but they have left observers with a nagging question: What if the first does not lead to the second?

That troubling possibility became a startling reality on Wednesday, when some 1 million Palestinian voters went to the polls and gave control of their government to Hamas, a fundamentalist Islamic party that embraces violence and rejects Western ideals in the Middle East. Respecting the will of Palestinian voters while advancing the American interest in a peaceful Israeli-Palestinian relationship will require the most delicate diplomacy going forward.

And yet an administration that has strenuously promoted democracy in the Middle East cannot ignore the results of this election. Voter turnout was estimated at 78 percent -- which puts American voting habits to shame -- and former President Jimmy Carter, who led an international monitoring team, described the balloting as "completely honest, completely fair." With the prompt resignation of the incumbent Fatah cabinet Thursday morning, it appeared that there would be a swift and peaceful transfer of power. In short, the Palestinians seem to have set a new standard for fair and orderly elections in the Arab world.
[Emphasis added]

So...the "new and improved" Middle East has an Iraqi government closely allied with Iran (against whom the Emperor and his minions have been rattling US swords) and a Palestinian government which to date has not forsworn the use of violence against its neighbor, Israel. While "the most delicate diplomacy" might very well be effective at this point, the US State Department has such stalwarts as Condaleeza Rice, Karen Hughes, and John Bolton to rely on. I am not optimistic.

Apparently BushCo can't successfully buy elections anywhere outside the US.

Way to go, George.


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