01/26/2006: From the "Careful what you wish for, because you might get it" Department:
An interesting observation from AP Diplomatic Writer Anne Gearan, on the victory of Hamas in the recent Palestinian election:
After making democracy a defining marker for American foreign policy, President Bush got a jolting message from Palestinian voters: Be careful what you wish for.
The United States promoted the democratic Palestinian election that now has produced an upset victory for the militant Islamic group Hamas. The election could install an organization the United States considers terrorist in place of a Palestinian leadership that, while weak, was pledged to work with
Israel and with Washington.
The administration is caught between Bush's clarion rhetoric about spreading liberty even in unlikely places and the reality that self-determination can yield results that appear counter to U.S. interests. That's a challenge the United States may have to confront someday in other places as well, including
Iraq, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Central Asia, the Balkans and — closer to home — South America.
"We in the United States have got to get used to the idea that other countries are going to have changes, and they may not be ones that" traditional Western thinking can readily grasp, said Council on Foreign Relations Mideast expert Judith Kipper.
Still, the success of religious-based candidates or parties, many of whom are hostile to Bush and opposed to American ideas, is sobering.
Muslim religious slates did far better in this month's Iraqi parliamentary elections than did the secular candidates preferred by Washington. Empowered by the U.S.-led overthrow of
Saddam Hussein, Iraqi Shiite voters could one day tilt their nation toward
The Muslim Brotherhood increased its power in Egypt's parliament nearly sixfold last year. Its lawmakers have tried to ban alcohol and some books, rid state TV of racy music videos and have violators punished with 30 lashes.
Saudi leaders regularly whisper to U.S. diplomats that open elections there would replace a government friendly to the United States with one dominated by radical Islamic politics.
Elsewhere, the Bush administration is at pains to say it is ready to work with democratically elected leaders with whom it doesn't agree, so long as they govern responsibly. That leaves Bush to try to gracefully suffer such thorns in his side as new Bolivian President Evo Morales, a leftist leader of coca growers who once vowed to be "Washington's nightmare."
Len on 01.26.06 @ 04:41 PM CST