Sunday, January 29, 2006

Hamas is in power. Good

So Hamas is in power in Palestine now. I for one think that's a good thing. The responsibility of being part of an elected government has very positive effects on violent movements. Not only does it give them a non-violent outlet for their aims, but it makes them responsive to the desires of the people (which generally includes peace and stability). This is evidenced in the recent evolution of the IRA. Others would use the continuing beligerance of the revolutionary government in Iran as a counter-example. But that is a weaker comparison, because the theocracy in Iran came to hold power through a revolution, not an election, as did the IRA and Hamas.

Another development is that the U.S. is probably going to eliminate aid to the Palestinian government now that Hamas is in power. Although the U.S. government's reasons for this run counter to my opinion that the ascent of Hamas is a good thing, I find this to also be a positive development. Foreign aid, like all kinds of free money, has a corrupting effect on governments, as was evidenced by the sleaze-ridden PLO (which just was knocked from power by Hamas).

If Hamas is indeed moderated and reformed by being democratically elected, perhaps the U.S. will look more optimistically upon the prospect of democracy in places like Saudi Arabia and Egypt. In these places, the U.S.-supported governments have squashed freedoms, leaving the only place to vent frustrations in religious fundamentalism. And though at first take, a more popularly elected government in these places will have a more Islamic bent, so long as their rise to power is democratic and they remain accountable to the people, the resultant government will look a lot more like the Islamic but liberal administration in Turkey than the raging lunatics in Iran.


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