The U.S supports democratic elections across the world! (Except when they don't go our way, then we support coups.) That's what George Bush says in his nice speeches. However, he never says the parenthetical part. It's up to us to figure that out on our own. Fortunately, it's not that hard!
In a highly encouraging (read: discouraging) Vanity Fair article, we learn that Bush's foreign acumen is about as sharp as his domestic. Learn officially, rather.
In January 2006, not yet aware of his own futility, Bush demanded elections in the Palestinian-controlled territorities. In Bush's mind, Fatah controlling the West Bank was good, but Hamas controlling Gaza was bad. Since, also in his mind, everybody agrees with what Bush thinks, our large-eared leader publicly demanded democratic elections. Fatah warned the White House that they weren't ready to win an election. Bush didn't listen. Which is odd, because he usually does.
And Palestinians didn't listen to Bush. Their votes handed parliamentary control of Palestinian territories to Hamas. If you're wondering why this is bad, now would be a good time to tell you that Hamas' charter specifically states its goal to be the eradication of Israel. It's a terrorist organization. A terrorist organization winning a democratic election is a concept that Bush still hasn't processed two years later. To him, terrorism is bad and democracy is good. He just can't figure out how those two paired off!
Few inside the U.S. administration had predicted the result, and there was no contingency plan to deal with it. “I’ve asked why nobody saw it coming,” Condoleezza Rice told reporters. “I don’t know anyone who wasn’t caught off guard by Hamas’s strong showing.”
Yes, I was also caught totally off guard. I had no idea that people who hated Israel and the United States would elect parliamentary leaders who feel the same way! Of course, I don't work in the State Department.
“Everyone blamed everyone else,” says an official with the Department of Defense. “We sat there in the Pentagon and said, ‘Who the fuck recommended this?’"
Yeah, seriously! Who? Oh...The Decider. Well, knowing him, he put a good four seconds of thought into, so who can blame him?
Okay, so the U.S. promoted democracy and it didn't bounce our way. Hey, power to the people, right? A democracy lover like Bush will just wait until the next election cycle and back Fatah again, right? Right indeed. In fact, we secretly ordered the Palestine Authority to dissolve the parliament and immediately hold a new election. One that went our way, dammit! They said no. I mean...they just have no concept of Western-style democracy in the Middle East. They are totally unmanageable people!
So then it was time to go back to a tried and true Republican approach. Republicans just love a dictatorial strongman. They just love handing over power to individuals friendly to our concerns. And let's not forget Iran-Contra, when we sold arms to Iran to fund a rebel group.
This ploy has failed in places as diverse as Vietnam, the Philippines, Central America, and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, during its war against Iran. To rely on proxies such as Muhammad Dahlan, says former U.N. ambassador John Bolton, is “an institutional failure, a failure of strategy.”
Mind you, John Bolton is a fucking insane maniac who wants to dissolve the United Nations and thinks U.S. justification for any foreign action stops after, "Because we said so." So, you know, maybe we shouldn't trust his judgment. I mean, he's disagreeing with Bush here! No way he knows what he's talking about!
Avi Dichter, Israel’s internal-security minister and the former head of its Shin Bet security service, was taken aback when he heard senior American officials refer to Dahlan as “our guy.” “I thought to myself, The president of the United States is making a strange judgment here,” says Dichter.
Hmm. Okay. Well...that's a little more damning. But you know what? So what? We took a chance on Dahlan and it worked out perfectly! Now Fatah controls the Palestinian territories and they're much more amenable to diplomacy! What's that you say? Hamas actually handled Fatah's coup attempt and brutally shut it down? And that strengthened Hamas' influence and credibility in the region? And that they've been lobbing rockets into Israel at will for months now? I'm sorry, when you say things like that, you sound like everything happened exactly the opposite way of what we were hoping for.
Okay, fine. So we ordered democratic elections and when they didn't go our way, organized a coup attempt. It's not like we secretly smuggled a bunch of arms and ammunition into one of the most dangerous places on Earth.
In late December 2006, four Egyptian trucks passed through an Israeli-controlled crossing into Gaza, where their contents were handed over to Fatah. These included 2,000 Egyptian-made automatic rifles, 20,000 ammunition clips, and two million bullets.
Goddammit, will you stop that? I'm trying to be patriotic here! Are you some kind of goddamn Democrat or something? So what if we gave a realpolitik ally arms? So fucking what? What's the worst that could happen? Hamas routs our new best friend and captures their arms and turns them against Israel, the main reason we even care about the Middle East? Yeah, real likely! Quit being such a pessimist! We control and influence the Middle East precisely because we're willing to make bold moves.
Unwilling to preside over a Palestinian civil war, Abbas blinked. For weeks, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia had been trying to persuade him to meet with Hamas in Mecca and formally establish a national unity government. On February 6, Abbas went, taking Dahlan with him. Two days later, with Hamas no closer to recognizing Israel, a deal was struck.
Under its terms, Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas would remain prime minister while allowing Fatah members to occupy several important posts. When the news hit the streets that the Saudis had promised to pay the Palestinian Authority’s salary bills, Fatah and Hamas members in Gaza celebrated together by firing their Kalashnikovs into the air.
Once again, the Bush administration had been taken by surprise. According to a State Department official, “Condi was apoplectic.”
Well...shit. It's almost like...like...Bush has absolutely no idea what he's doing and is making the world a much more dangerous place. And that Condoleeza Rice is in over her head. And that nobody listens to U.S. opinion on anything any more.