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Talk to Your Enemies: Jimmy Carter and Hamas

by Drew J Jones Mon Apr 21st, 2008 at 12:42:53 PM EST

Several months ago, I was left unsurprised by the reaction in the press and among others in the DC chattering class when Barack Obama had the audacity to suggest that talking with the leaders of countries "we" (whoever that is) don't like might prove to not be the worst idea in human history, rather than (say) randomly attacking countries which have not attacked us, as the Very Serious PeopleTM advocated in Iraq.  The press and other candidates pounced, calling it "naive" and "irresponsible".  Now a "shocker" today from ABC News: Jimmy Carter's visit with Hamas has proved to not be the exercise in freedom-hating we've been led to believe it was stateside:

Former President Carter said Monday that Hamas -- the Islamic militant group that has called for the destruction of Israel -- is prepared to accept the right of the Jewish state to "live as a neighbor next door in peace."

But Carter warned that there would not be peace if Israel and the U.S. continue to shut out Hamas and its main backer, Syria.

The brief article goes on to quote Carter as saying Hamas would be willing to accept a Palestinian state based upon the 1967 corders if it were accepted by the Palestinian people, capped by Hamas accepting Israel's right to exist peacefully as Palestine's neighbor.

Now it's undoubtedly the case that this will change nothing, since we're ruled by idiots.  The debate will obviously center on whether Jimmy Carter merely hates America more than Jeremiah Wright, or more than Louis Farrakhan.  But I just thought I'd toss it out there.


If you want peace, you talk. If you don't, you don't.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Apr 21st, 2008 at 12:53:42 PM EST
Peace is for chumps.  Nuclear umbrellas are for serious people.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Apr 21st, 2008 at 12:56:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I believe that it was Kofi Annan who said it best: All wars eventually lead to the negotiating table in the end. So why can't we just skip right ahead to the negotiations?

Or words to that effect.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Apr 27th, 2008 at 06:25:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Jimmy Carter is so right that it is ridiculous that he is challenged. He may have other failings, but quiet courage is not one of them. I don't care whether he is driven by Christianity or peanuts, diplomacy (ie understanding the drivers for the other side), has always been crucial to peace, and the reason why diplomats are internationally protected.

Let us ignore for the moment that Hamas was democratically elected in a largely uncontested election result. But let us note that Hamas was providing the only welfare system in Gaza - for eg education and healthcare. But whatever the reasons, Hamas now represents the diplomatic entity called Gaza.

If you want negotiated solutions (with the alternative as war) then speaking to those who diplomatically represent a people is imperative. There are NO other solutions. Diplomacy rarely leads to an Arcadian idyll. In the historical ecosytem called Earth, there never have been any lasting diplomatic solutions. What we aim for is a maximal distribution of happiness in the present, with as few ramifications for future generations as possible (with the latter as a rather generalized X = ? equation more based on hope than understanding).

It is, as always, Game Theory. Winning (as opposed to losing) is ever impermanent. Collaboration has the chance (but is not guaranteed) to last - at least within the generational timespan with which we currently measure happiness.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Apr 21st, 2008 at 01:09:46 PM EST
It's a huge shift on the part of the Hamas, but there are still serious problems. For one thing their view now seems to be that they'd oppose a peace agreement but would accept it if it were approved in a referendum. More importantly, they also say that Palestinians living outside the occupied territories would have to be included in the referendum. Given that a peace deal would exclude any meaningful right for the descendants of the Palestinian refugees to emigrate to Israel, and that they seem to be rather set on that, for the moment it would be a safe bet that the deal would not get a majority.

Still, this is very good news, just as the acceptance of the principle of a Palestinian state by Sharon and a large chunk of the Israeli right was. Kudos to Carter.

by MarekNYC on Mon Apr 21st, 2008 at 01:30:04 PM EST
Of course, this is why Hamas should have been accepted after the elections they won: having to work to the constraints of reality is generally sobering for people.

And of course there are serious problems but they can't be solved without  talking and making an agreement.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Apr 22nd, 2008 at 03:18:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What makes you call this a huge shift for Hamas? I was of the understanding that this has been their more or less stated policy for the next best thing to a year, perhaps longer. AFAIK, the more or less official position of Hamas is that they will recognise Israel when Israel recognises Palestine. Of course, stating it in so many words as official policy is a shift - but more, I should think, in tenor than in substance.

At least that is what the analysts/pundits/newsies (I've stopped trying to distinguish between the three categories by now) I've been reading suggested.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Apr 27th, 2008 at 06:31:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
'they also say that Palestinians living outside the occupied territories would have to be included in the referendum'

Not exactly. This is what Mesha'al actually said:

"We respect the Palestinian people's will which is expressed democratically through elections, a referendum or a legally elected national council, even if the Palestinian people's choice is against our beliefs."

A referendum including all Palestinian refugees is very unlikely to happen, not least because it would raise uncomfortable charges of 'dual loyalty' for those Palestinian refugees who have been fully repatriated in their host countries and have no intention of returning to Palestine.

More likely is this idea of "a legally elected national council" - this has been Hamas' position in the past, whereby it would accept either a full referendum or a vote by a democratic, reformed and inclusive PLO (which Hamas is currently excluded from).

The Heathlander

by heathlander on Sun Apr 27th, 2008 at 04:38:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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