My long-time readers know that for years, I’ve consistently warned that indiscriminate democracy promotion courts Islamist disaster. Here’s one example from The Washington Institute’s fall conference in 2002, and here’s another, my remarks last winter on a panel with Natan Sharansky. I watched with dismay and alarm as John Esposito’s agenda became George Bush’s agenda, driven by blind adherence to simplistic nostrums.
Now the American democracy fetish has brought a certified terrorist movement to power in the Palestinian territories. I’d say that puts George Bush in the category of Jimmy Carter, whose human rights fetish helped to propel Islamists to power in Iran. (How appropriate that Carter monitored the latest Palestinian elections. I first pointed to the Carter-Bush parallel when Bush announced his “forward strategy of freedom” in a 2003 speech at the National Endowment for Democracy–a silly institution that’s busily paving the road to hell with good intentions.)
So what does the Hamas victory mean? Back in November, I debated the chief British apologist for Islamist extremism, Alastair Crooke. I said this about Hamas: “The more power they share, the more the conflict will be returned to a standoff reminiscent of the period between 1949 and 1967: an unsteady armistice, non-recognition, and non-negotiation. Islamism is now what Arab nationalism was then: a preference for long-term attrition over diplomacy.”
Of course, it’s only the Palestinians who are headed back to 1949. Israel today is squarely aligned with the United States, it has peace with Egypt and Jordan, and its economy is completely globalized. Only the Palestinians, stuck behind the wall, have entered the time machine. The right strategy for Israel is to draw in Egypt and Jordan, to complete the 1949 scenario. Israel and the United States should compel Hamas to go through Cairo and Amman if they want air to breath. King Abdullah and Husni Mubarak have plenty of levers over Hamas, and should be pressed to use them. In return, the United States should exempt Egypt and Jordan from its democracy edicts.
The rest of us can put away our roadmaps, and the last of the peace envoys can retire to write their books. As for my neocon friends, when they find themselves out of jobs, I suggest they apply to John Esposito’s Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding. He’s just taken $20 million from Saudi Prince Alwaleed to boost think tank operations. It’ll be a perfect marriage: they can all reassure us that power will moderate Islamists, that we shouldn’t fear pursuing democracy come what may, etc. Here’s the perfect title for the new hires: the Bush-Carter Fellows.