Saturday, January 28, 2006

Hamas and Democracy

Suppose a political party in a democracy ran on a platform of ending democracy. Where do the pro-democracy pundits stand on such a possibility?

This dilemma can be unwound by re-iterating that democracy is a vehicle, not a destination.

Let us separate the notions of vehicle and destination when thinking through the Palestinian election of Hamas. I see no other political structure other than democracy as workable. It may not be a perfect vehicle, but it is the best one available.

With respect to the destination? Clearly, a democratic destination of ending democracy is a dead-end, and should be resisted. Similarly, a democratic destination of beligerence and aggression towards a neighboring nation should also be resisted. We can reject the destination without rejecting the vehicle.

A things to consider: Hamas now takes responsbility for mundane but critical issues such as water, sewage, roads, and so on. It will be interesting watching how well Hamas undertakes management of boring infrastructure.

Finally, let's also consider United Nations Resolution 181, which called for the partitioning of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states with economic union. If one embraces the concept of the United Nations and 'world democracy', then to be consistent, one supports or at least agrees to abide by the resolutions of that body. Therefore, Israel has been granted the democratic right to exist.

It is therefore entirely consistent to reject an aggressive, anti-Israel Hamas Palestinian authority, while continuing to embrace democracy at the same time.

However, it's logically inconsistent to apply logic in the Middle East.

Doesn't anyone care where the bullets fall that the Palestinians shoot skywards for the cameras of the west? It's a demonstration that life is cheap in that society - careless handling of deadly weapons within the confines of your own society is simply reckless. But, I am being far too logical about it all.