20/20 HINDSIGHT or 100% BLINDSIGHT
By Micah Halpern
Tuesday January 31, 2006
Some people are calling it 20/20 hindsight. I am calling it 100 percent blindsight.
When the most powerful country in the world admits to having been way off base and taken completely by surprise by an event as significant and far reaching as the Palestinian election, some really hard questions must be asked. And perhaps, some really hard heads should begin to roll.
Condi Rice has admitted to having had a very false read on the pulse of the Palestinian people. The United States secretary of state has said that she was surprised, that no one she knew anticipated the election of Hamas.
Well, Condi, you should have been reading what I write.
I took a quick glance at the material I have analyzed, written about and published in the past year and discovered that I warned that if allowed to run Hamas might very probably win the Palestinian election over 40 times. Forty times, at least, I wrote of the dangers that would result if Hamas was permitted to enter the mainstream political fray without first being forced to disarm. I've written long pieces, short pieces, thought pieces and predictions.
Not to toot my own horn, but the writing was on the wall the entire time. All that was required was a lifting of blinders and an examination of the facts. What happened instead was that the United States so yearned for, so wanted a stable democracy for the Palestinian people that some of the brightest minds the democratic world has to offer convinced themselves that everything would turn out all right despite the obvious realities on the ground.
Over the past year I have noted a definite change in United States policy towards Hamas. When talk of Hamas running for political office first began circulating both the president and the secretary of state and their spokespeople expressed the conviction that Hamas must trade their weapons for a soap box, that the two cannot co-exist. US foreign policy stated clearly that politics and violence do not go hand in hand. Choose one or the other, they said to Hamas, you cannot have both. That was a year ago when the voices coming out of Washington, D.C. were responsible and mature.
But that changed. As Hamas became more solidly rooted in their decision to actively participate in the Palestinian election I heard a very different tone coming from the White House. I heard milder, more conciliatory policy emanating from D.C. New terms were used, new parameters were being set up. Everything was linked to "after the election." "After the election it will be calm" they said. "After the election Abbas will confront Hamas" they not only said but began to believe.
And then the United States of America, the republic for which we stand, withdrew all objection to Hamas running in the election. The Palestinians would say, in essence, "who are you to determine our democracy" and "butt out of our internal issues" and the United States complied.
The United States should have continued to insist that Hamas could not run unless it declared that it was no longer committed to violence. It owed at least that much to the world. The United States was a major sponsor of this election and should not have been so easily swayed by the foolish self righteousness of Palestinian leaders. The United States had committed not only to sponsoring the future of the Palestinian people but to building a nation for the Palestinian people. Palestinians, leaders and citizens alike, needed a course in Civics 101, not a polite nod in the direction of civil unrest and anarchy.
Democracy does not mean that everyone gets the right to run. But Hamas did run. And Hamas won. And now the Palestinian Authority will be witness to a struggle unlike any other in their troubled history. Hamas and Fatah will fight it out over four areas of control. Security forces. Money. Education. Communication resources.
Whoever controls these four areas will control not only the present but the future of the Palestinian Authority. Until now, Fatah was in control and they are not willing to cede anything, nothing at all. But Hamas thinks otherwise. The battles will be verbal as well as physical. The fighting will be fierce, fiercest of all for control of security forces. In the Palestinian Authority, arms talk. The security forces will be guns for hire, just as they have always been, the only difference will be the force they answer to.
There will be total anarchy and lawlessness. I should put that into perspective. There will be even less control and more lawlessness than there was before the election.
Condi, are you paying attention?