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Thesis & Antithesis

A critical perspective on energy, international politics & current affairs

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Location: Washington, D.C.

greekdefaultwatch@gmail.com Natural gas consultant by day, blogger on the Greek economy by night. Trained as an economist and political scientist. I believe in common sense and in data, and my aim is to offer insight written in language that is clear and convincing.

18 February 2006

Foreign policy confusion

The Washington Post writes today: “things do seem a tiny bit muddled at the Quai d’Orsay: France, after all, is simultaneously refusing to talk to Hamas and encouraging Russia to do so. Nor is Paris the only capital where ‘confused’ seems to describe the thinking about how to handle the Islamic majority that is due to be sworn in today in the Palestinian legislature. Though they are pretty sure they disagree with the French, neither the Bush administration nor the Israeli government is clear about many of the other questions Hamas’s ascendance has raised.”

I cannot pretend that Hamas’ election is not a complicated issue; but I believe that the confusion, at least in Washington, emerges from America’s own strategic misdirection. The identification of democracy promotion with the national interest is not only tenuous but counter-productive. For a region (Mid East) whose transition to democracy will surely be turbulent, the inability to handle and manage non-democratic regimes (either in terms of elected mandate or, like Hamas, in terms of agenda) will be disastrous. A few years ago, America tried to isolate Yassir Arafat with the hope that isolation would bring forth change. Instead, Arafat died and Hamas is now leading the Palestinians.

American policy in the region after Iraq has been to scream hard for democracy, close its eyes and hope that when it opens them, democracy will have emerged. And if it hasn’t, America can repeat the process over again, until democracy is the norm in the region. Alas, this is not a serious policy for a superpower. Democracy emerges from careful foreign policy planning, not from wishful thinking.

References:
“Confused on Hamas,” Washington Post, 18 Feb 06 (link)

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