Thursday, January 26, 2006

Some thoughts on violence

From an article by AP writer, Ravi Nessman (see also).

"If your platform is the destruction of Israel, it means you're not a partner in peace, and we're interested in peace," President Bush said in Washington.


Hamas leaders had said before the vote they would be content to be a junior partner in the next government. The group campaigned mainly on cleaning up the Palestinian Authority — downplaying the conflict with Israel — and [Mahmous] Zahar said Thursday that Hamas planned to overhaul the government.
"We are going to change every aspect, as regards the economy, as regards industry, as regards agriculture, as regards social aid, as regards health, administration, education," he said.

Some experts believed the Hamas victory would force it to moderate. Others feared it would embolden the group to remake Palestinian life in keeping with its strict interpretation of Islam.


The most significant news story of the day is easily Hamas' victory in Palestine. I am not quite sure what to think; as a person, I try to restrain myself from any opinion on Israel/Palestine because both entities have such "loaded" histories of injustice, and, of course, a larger religious background. I don't know where to enter into the debate and find a foundation for building an opinion. But, as philosopher, I have some loose thoughts to collect, mainly about the reaction of the world; my political science bone is also very excited to see what comes of Hamas' offer to Fatah to organize a coalition government.

-What strikes me is that Hamas has not yet formed their government, the Fatah representatives are clearing out, and all of a sudden, many states are already dealing with the state as a terrorist state.

Now, there is one aspect of this that is very correct: Hamas has acted as a terrorist organization. But, as noted in the story above by AP writer Ravi Nessman, Hamas ran largely on a reformist platform, and many of the quotes of Hamas leaders mention one major issue: employment corruption.

I am interested to see how Hamas handles their newfound majority in the Palestinian Authority. Regardless of their past, even though I could understand some cautious feelings on the part of on-lookers, I think it is necessary that Hamas has not yet enacted any legislation, and therefore it is premature to label their government "terrorist."

-What an interesting turn for Americans supporting Middle East democracy! Anybody else sense that uneasy feeling amongst supporters of a free Middle East?

-As mentioned above, coalition or no coalition government is the huge question (early reports are that Fatah has rejected coalition offers). I think now would be a very interesting time for Fatah to form a coalition government with Hamas (which sent out an offer to President Mahmoud Abbas to share power). While many Hamas supporters are suspicious of Fatah corruption, I think that given that Hamas officially sent an invitation to share power, Abbas ought to seize the opportunity to help share in the legislation. Why? Not necessarily to moderate Hamas as a terrorist organization; for, though Hamas' past consists of terror attacks, they did not run on a "terror campaign," and seek to reform government.

Whether or not this turns into an oppressive regime, as some fear, remains to be seen. Given the general outlook of parliamentarian government, the question remains: is it generally more conducive as a minority party to accept an offer for coalition government, or remain in government as an opposition party...?

(I suppose the nervous onlookers of Capitalist representative governments have revealed two things that they can't stand: economc reformist platforms, and "terrorists.")

-What's with all the Capitalist representative governments calling for peace? Specifically, I recall reading various quotes from American president George W. Bush throughout the day, calling for both "peace" and an "end to violence."

What I find interesting is not so much Bush's use of the word peace, which he has used numerous times before (e.g., the war on terror is a war for peace), but rather, a seeming equation of concepts, that peace might be equated with putting an end to violence. But, clearly that can't be what peace is; Bush's past suggestions have been that peace is merely an end, which war can bring about (as a means).

It seems, however, that we can rest easily: he really doesn't think peace is synonymous to putting an end to violence; rather, peace very well could be conformity with American foreign policy; in the case of Hamas, practising peace is not merely synonymous to forging an agreement with Israel (which could be a very good thing), but rather, is synonymous to forging an agreement with Israel that is to the liking of American interests.

-The potential irony of this amuses me: wouldn't it be something if an Islamic government in Iraq and a "terrorist" government in Palestine actually end up as moderate governing forces, not as some great, strikingly revolutionary democratic forces, but merely as government that matches the procedural governments of America, Great britain, etc...what would that do to American psyche, to watch an Islamic and "terrorist" goverment suceed, with our own eyes, under the microscope of the world press focusing on the Middle East?

-Does anyone else have the uneasy feeling that America and other nations just might "pre-empt" the possibility that Iraq and Palestine can have successful representative governments?


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