a comment by a former US soldier

SoldiernolongerinIraq is one of the frequent commenters at the blog Abu Muqawama. I don’t always agree with his point of view, but here is his comment on Gaza, Hamas, and the future of the Palestinians:

Soldiernolongeriniraq said…
“They had everything arranged, including the most pro-western leader installed at the head.”

The de facto leader of HAMAS (I mentioned him above, and explained his former life in an Israeli prison) is the most “pro-western leader?”

Are you sure you understand even the rudiments of the history here? Because he would be the first to call such a term character murder!

Perhaps you mean the coalition government established in February of 2007 that put Fatah’s Abbas at the helm of the PA. The response to that “pro-western” leader was a HAMAS-initiated civil war in Gaza that crushed Fatah as a political party there, jailed its leaders, shot up protestors, tortured dissidents and shuttered the free (pro-Fatah) press.

And that gets to the heart of the problem: Everyone assumes that it was the west, Israel, Egypt, KSA, et al that somehow made HAMAS, upon election, start to act amazingly and swiftly as the undemocratic thugs we suspected they would be.

Or, as some would say when looking at certain outsider parties in the ME and the tantalizing prospect of open and fair elections, one and done.

HAMAS had no desire to actually subsist within a democracy! They wanted to convert the gains from a democratic victory into iron-clad rule, first within Gaza, later across the West Bank.

Perhaps their armorers, Iran and Syria, gave them some advice on how to accomplish this.

On the other hand, Israel is soon to turn over politically. Cast your eyes about the ME and tell me where in an Arab-dominated nation will you find this?

You seem to believe that I assume Arabs are congenitally unable to muster the necessary means to achieve democracy. I couldn’t disagree more.

Indeed, I believe if there are any peoples constitutionally capable of creating the institutions necessary to foster a successful Middle Eastern democracy, it’s the Palestinians, at least those who aren’t leading HAMAS.

And that’s been the real fatal flaw over the years for the Palestinians. Beyond their abuse by regional states that have used them as strategic pawns (just as Iran and Syria use HAMAS today), they have been failed by their own political leadership.

PLO’s Arafat proved too old, too set in his ways to change, and by change I mean produce a compelling argument to his people to accept reality and produce a functioning state.

He and his lieutenants also proved too corrupt, too incompetent at civil leadership (which is quite different from revolutionary military leadership), too long cut off from their own culture, to make it.

They threw away all the hard-won legitimacy and international standing, all the gains from Oslo, on old patterns of behavior that eventually gained them nothing.

HAMAS sought to replace them. But HAMAS also emerged as anti-democratic, incompetent and ultimately inconsequential. What has HAMAS brought to the Palestinians? I guess a civil nightmare in Gaza, more bombs from Israel, lower standard of living and war against brother Palestinians.

Nice job, HAMAS.

If HAMAS wants to lead a bonafide democratic, united Palestinian state, then perhaps HAMAS needs to start acting like it leads an independent, fully functioning state.

In Gaza, it has put a lot of unemployed HAMAS supporters into government, but hasn’t been able to do anything to raise living standards or gain international legitimacy.

It’s not that important whether I believe the Gazans are inconsequential or not. What matters is what they bring to the table.

Thus far, they boast the proclivity to produce suicide bombers who target Israeli civilians; breed like alley cats; live off the international dole; kill and imprison their own detractors; and otherwise piss off every neighbor they have to the point that even Egypt cuts off the Rafah Crossing and demands the return of Fatah control.

For every Rhodes Scholar produced by Gaza, 20 bomb-martyrs are created that puts them further behind their peers in the region.

Gazans have a choice: They can continue down the rat hole into impoverishment and inconsequence, or they can do what Palestinians have always been capable of doing, and that’s turn their tiny putative state upon independence into the Singapore of the Middle East — well educated, well led, perhaps not completely democratic but at least peaceful and increasingly wealthy.

Gaza itself is too small to do it on its own. As it is now, it’s an urbanized purgatory devoid of sufficient land, water, capital and factories necessary to sustain itself, much less export to others to create wealth.

Before the intifadah, when Israel had adopted a policy of attempting to create economic development in the occupied zones, Gaza’s (and the PA’s) GDP was one of the fastest growing in the world.

But it came undone because of terrorism. Why should Israel create an economic partner from a population that seeks to destroy it? Instead, build a wall, isolate the pariah welfare state and leave it to its own pathologies.

What I find most odd is that some in here seem to believe this is a “neo con” argument. They suggest others read the Israeli press.

I also would suggest that they read the Palestinian press (at least, the freer media in the West Bank) to hear a wide range of opinion about HAMAS, Gaza, Israel, the West Bank and the region. Just as Israeli scribes aren’t uniform in their reporting on Gaza, neither are Palestinians, even if certain sat TV networks would like us to believe that they are.

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