“I would not like it” I told the caller, “but I would still not choose to murder.”
“Actually,” another caller stated to me, “Hamas didn’t need to behave this way until Bush began treating them the way he has..”
“In what sense does Hamas have a need to murder?” I asked.
“Well, I’m just saying, Hamas is in a horrible situation…”
I suspect that there are millions of my fellow Americans who tend to engage in this kind of thinking regarding Hamas, and perhaps regarding other terrorist organizations as well. And in my experience, when faced with a challenge to their assumptions and their line of reasoning, they often begin to back away from the logical outcomes of that reasoning.
And they should back away from it. If one asserts that Hamas and other terrorist organizations do what they do, simply because members of these groups lack adequate material provision or have been mistreated by other people groups, such assertions lead to two very troubling conclusions: A) Terrorists are ultimately not responsible for their behavior; and B) The behavior of terrorists is justifiable given their difficult circumstances.
This kind of reasoning is usually frowned-upon in every day, “real life” scenarios. For example, most Americans would likely find it abhorrent to excuse the destructive behavior of a wayward teenager, or a reckless adult employee in the workplace. Likewise, the argument that says “he stole money from our company because we don’t pay him enough in salary” would be unacceptable as well.
When you reward bad behavior, you inevitably get more bad behavior in response, not less. It’s true in parenting, and it’s true in organizational and business management. And the axiom applies to public policy, and foreign policy, as well.
The Bush policy says to Hamas “you have behaved your way out of the possibility of a relationship with us; your behavior makes such a possibility untenable.” It rightly stipulates that the responsibility for the lack of relationship lies with the offending party - - Hamas - - rather than excusing the behavior and laying blame on others.
This is not to say, as many do, that the Bush Administration has been “one-sided” with the Israel/Hamas dilemma. On the contrary, President Bush himself has repeatedly asserted that a Palestinian State ought to exist.
But for all his failings, especially on economic policy, President Bush has spoken with tremendous logical and moral clarity on this issue.
Let us pray that President Obama chooses such moral clarity, rather than choosing to reward bad behavior with the “hope” that the behavior might “change.”
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.