I am getting weary and wary of this United States obsession with "Nice Guy Diplomacy."
There is no doubt that sometimes it is important to be "nice," to be giving and accommodating, to be helpful, offer assistance and sometimes, to even eat crow. Sometimes, that's what it takes to make things work in the international arena. The problem with Nice Guy Diplomacy, US Style, is that the United States knows no limits.
In previous administrations there was very little that the United States would not accede to in order to achieve the desired diplomatic goals. That explains why Yasser Arafat was the most hosted foreign dignitary in the Clinton White House.
I would have hoped that in the aftermath of 9-11 the United States would have learned that there are areas that are diplomatically sacrosanct. There are times when being nice is not only inappropriate it is wrong. President Bush felt that way instinctively when it came to dealing with the villainous Saddam Hussein. His instincts have been blurred, however, when it comes to dealing with another terror group --- Hamas.
The United States is reaching out to Hamas.
Hamas is one of the easy terror groups to label. Hamas does not hide its objectives. Hamas has stated its desire to murder Israelis. Does Hamas do anything else? Yes. They minister to the sick and the needy. They provide social services, free food and free health care.
And now, in part because of those social services, Hamas is a strong political force in the Palestinian Authority. What else is propelling Hamas into mainstream Palestinian politics? US "Nice Guy Diplomacy."
The United States is urging Hamas into politics. The United States is not insisting, even conditioning, that before they turn into politicians that Hamas disarms. I would call that more than playing nice guy, I would call it playing patsy.
There is plenty of European pressure on the US to ease up on anti-terror guidelines. One would expect that from Europe. Europe thinks differently, Europe believes that negotiations are more important than platforms. I had hoped that the United States would stand up to the pressures of France and England on this issue. But no! Obviously, I expect too much.
Not only is the United States administration actually dealing with these terrorists before they disarm, they are doing exactly what Europe has always done. The United States, like European nations, is splitting hairs.
They are rationalizing and justifying their new policy.
Puzzle this one out. In an official statement, White House Spokesman Scott McClellan said about would-be Hamas politicos that they "may be members of organizations, but are not terrorists, versus terrorists, people who have blood on their hands."
Wow, a distinction with a huge difference. Only one big problem. According to United States law, being a member of a terrorist organization is a violation of US law. Rationalize that one please.
The US must demand that Hamas reject terror before entering politics. The US must demand that Hamas lay down their weapons before entering politics. The US must demand that Hamas accept a waiting period during which the organization proves its new resolve before entering politics.
If the Bush administration continues to go along with Europe in supporting a political entity called Hamas in the hope of stabilizing the Palestinian Authority they will be making a tragic mistake. It will be a mistake similar to the mistake the Clinton administration made by placating and empowering Arafat.
The best way to aid the Palestinian people is to help them get rid of the terror and the violence. Without disarming Hamas the official Palestinian establishment will sanction an army, independent of the State, outside the parameters and the laws and the best interests of the State.
No doubt. Hamas is a force to contend with. But the US will loose a significant measure of respect and valued influence in the Middle East if it does not stand firm on this issue of terror.
If the United States does not insist on disarming Hamas, Hamas will achieve even greater goals. If the United States does not insist on disarming Hamas, Hamas will become mainstreamed and they will keep their weapons. If the United States does not insist on disarming Hamas, the United States will have facilitated a terrorist organization, not destroyed it. If the United States does not insist on disarming Hamas, the United States will never again be able to take the high road on the issue of terror.
That is not the legacy the United States wants to leave in its battle against terror.