No 'mas: When are we getting tough with the PA?

Posted: May 15, 2006 12:05 AM

If democracy makes leaders accountable to the people who elect them, it works the other way as well: People are also accountable for their elected leaders. Which is why the United States, in agreeing to provide a $10 million care package to the Palestinian Authority (PA), is so dangerously wrong in failing to hold the people of the PA accountable for the democratically elected terror chieftains of Hamas. 

Here's what Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said this week when she announced the United States would provide medical and other supplies to the PA, which, after two months of no American or European Union aid, has run desperately low on such necessities: "The Hamas-run Palestinian Authority government bears sole responsibility for the hardships facing the Palestinian people and the international isolation that the PA is now experiencing due to its refusal to recognize Israel, renounce terrorism, and abide by previous agreements and obligations."

That's a lot of refusal, but never mind. The real here question is, Why does the Hamas-run government bear "sole" responsibility? What about its supporters, i.e. the Palestinian voters who gave that Hamas-run government a landslide victory? In the world according to the Bush administration, they remain voiceless victims even after exercising their political will at the ballot box, voting into power an outlaw organization whose charter unfolds under a statement by Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna: "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it." Regardless of whether this heinous call to jihad leaves any peace for the so-called "Quartet" to process, Rice continued: "Hamas' policies and actions should not deprive the Palestinian people of their legitimate humanitarian needs."

Why ever not? Why shouldn't Hamas' "policies and actions," driven by a Hitlerian plan to "obliterate" Israel, deprive Hamas constituents of their "needs," humanitarian or otherwise -- and particularly when it comes to support from civilized nation-states spilling blood and treasure to fend off Islamic jihad in the so-called "war on terror"? There is a strategic and moral senselessness to the administration's willful disconnect. After all, the United States and the European Union cut off aid to the PA two months ago in order to extract concessions -- like, for instance, on Israel's right to exist. Hamas' response? No concessions.

The United States and European Union are now cranking aid back up -- sure, in humanitarian dribs and drabs, but this is probably just the beginning -- and still no concessions. This doesn't sound like successful statecraft.

On the other hand, it seems that statecraft is no longer the craft of our state. After predictions of cash and gas shortages, and a couple of stories about sick Palestinian babies made the papers -- youngsters languishing "because funds have been withheld from the West" (oil-rich Islam is never to blame) -- the United States blinked. Or, rather, we teared up. Acting like an emotional individual rather than the leader of the Free World, the United States traded its goals and principles (pressuring Hamas, not supporting terrorists) for a big wet hanky. But notice Hamas didn't get weepy over its own young and decide to "save the children" by simply recognizing Israel's right to exist. Nor did any of Hamas' oil-rich Muslim brethren feel moved to come to the rescue, either. No. Hamas remained true to its creed (Kill the Jews), the Arab-Muslim world sat tight, and the United States gave in on its anti-terrorist stance and agreed to airlift necessities -- which is a disgrace.

Of course, the administration would probably emphasize that it's "only" $10 million worth of Band-Aids and such; and it's not going to Hamas officials, it's going to Hamas constituents -- or maybe even Fatah constituents, whose outlook on life and Israel is so different from Hamas that they support the Al Aqsa Martyr Brigades. (Yes, I'm being sarcastic.) But there is more to this incident than $10 million, Band-Aids  or Hamas. What we are witnessing is the stumbling behavior of a superpower that doesn't know how to act either super or powerful.

Maybe waging a nebulous "war on terror" has hopelessly confused us. Maybe finding ourselves in the costly business of making the world safe for sharia has muddled our objectives. But if we cannot retrieve the simple, precious principle that took us into war -- you're either with us or you're against us -- not only will we never achieve victory, we won't even know what it looks like.