Hamas trumps Bush efforts

The election of the sweater clad Evo Morales as the new Bolivian president was a definite upset for the Bush administration. However, more upsetting for the administration was Hamas winning the recent Palestinian elections. Titled by the United States and the European Union as a terrorist organization, Hamas has come into control and could disrupt the peace process in the Middle East. President George W. Bush’s plan to spread democracy in the Middle East has backfired.

If Bush wants democracy in the Middle East to succeed while not endangering U.S. interest, the president must reconsider, or at least revise his foreign policies. Instead of calling for immediate democracy, the administration must focus on aiding and strengthening the parties it wants to see in power so they can win future elections- that is if democracy succeeds in the Middle East.

There is no doubt that Arabs love democracy. They love it so much that when they get a chance for free and fair elections, the turnout is high enough to embarrass nations that have had democratic institutions for a long time, whose turnouts in elections are rather low (including the United States).

Hamas’ victory absolutely stunned the world, but how did it outdo its main rival, Fatah?

Any student of international politics knows that a popular nationalist party like Fatah, a party that was instrumental in a national movement that fought for independence or occupation, is often tempted to monopolize power in order to remain the leading party in the nation. Such parties will use any means necessary to monopolize power, which often breeds corruption. Fatah was notorious within Palestine for being corrupt. Hamas ran on a platform to end the corruption.

While Hamas is known to the outside world as an organization sending suicide bombers off to kill innocent Israelis, they are known for their honesty and charitable deeds within Palestine. These were among the various factors that appealed to the Palestinians who voted for Hamas.

Those who believe that the victory of Hamas has set up a roadblock to peace, including former President and Nobel prize winner Jimmy Carter (who observed the recent elections), have well-founded, legitimate fears. The Hamas Charter, which was established on Aug. 18, 1988, calls for the destruction of Israel and also declares that “There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors.”

Certainly, such statements indicate that Hamas is not considering sitting down anytime soon with the Israeli government to talk peace over coffee. Furthermore, Israel’s interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said “The state of Israel will not negotiate with a Palestinian administration if even part of it is an armed terrorist organization calling for the destruction of the state of Israel.”

With any luck, Hamas will reconsider its view that Jihad is the only solution and therefore be willing to give up its goal of destroying Israel and be open to continuing the peace process.