Like the stereo-typical male who drives around for hours refusing to stop to ask for directions, the world has attempted to tell us that we’re driving in the wrong direction, but we’re not listening.
We push for democracy in the Middle East and the result has been nothing short of an ironic slap in the face. Egypt, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq and now Palestine have all democratically elected representatives who share a common goal of despising U.S. policy. That part of the world has painted our idiotic foreign policy into a corner and left us nowhere to go except to either admit stupidity or to lash out like a trapped animal.
I watched with surprise as news outlets and pundits all over the world suggested that Hamas‘ huge win in Palestine would be followed by a taming of their views. Why would an organization, brought to power by the people, with a mandate from those people, ever feel the need to tame the very viewpoint that brought them to prominence in the first place? It would have been like expecting George W. Bush to appoint liberals to the Supreme Court.
Why nations and leaders insist on ignoring history, only to be doomed to repeat it, is a mystery. It’s one thing when an individual makes such a mistake but for governments ruled by a wide array of otherwise intelligent people does so, it always comes as a bit of a shock.
In the case of history, Israel gives us all the historical perspective we need to see exactly how all of this is likely to turn out. They’ve been fighting the war on terror since the dawn of time. Have they won it yet? Have their people known a time of real peace? Their policy of brashly proclaiming to fight fire with fire has brought them little more than soot and ash to show for it.
For the last five years Israel has been engaged in a systematic campaign to eradicate Hamas from the landscape. They’ve been executing their top leaders with determination that exceeds our own in hunting down Al Qaida. Their citizens have seen countless news stories about the revolving numbers game that we’re playing. They’ve seen multiples of each top number removed only to have a new one fill in to take its place. Now all they have to show for that policy is a terror group that controls an entire country, not by coming to power by subverting the people, but through democratically-held elections. The people have spoken and they’re fed up. Who would have thought that we’d look back and ponder that things were potentially better under Yasar Arafat?
We also saw the fruitlessness of England‘s attempts to destroy the IRA with similar tactics. The only solution to the problem was to turn the other cheek and reach out to the other side to truly sympathize with their issues. The current outcome of that effort has resulted in a situation where today’s students are unlikely to have even heard of the IRA and that extreme turn around happened in a surprisingly short time period.
How many more clear examples of history do we need to pass on the road to understanding before it sinks in and we change our course? I fear that it’s going to be quite some time yet. History is littered with examples of governments who pay no attention to history.