Tuesday, April 15, 2008

President Carter, Israel, Hamas, and Diplomacy

Over the course of the past few days, former President Carter has been criticized for meeting with a leader of Hamas. Much of the criticism has come from Israel, of course. I have seen comments from various individuals, condemning Carter and calling him a weak individual or saying that he should be branded a traitor. But is he really weak or a traitor? Isn't he doing what our government should be doing? If you refuse to talk to those whom you have branded as your enemy, will you ever find peace with them?

Our current President, and I use that term very loosely in his case, has said he will not negotiate with our enemies. Do they really care if he doesn't negotiate? In the past few months he seems to have frantically tried to make some weak inroads into opening up a dialogue in the Middle East before his "Presidency" is over.

President Carter is the only party who has seemed interested in trying to do something in the Middle East and he has no real power to do so. He has criticised Israel for its policies and has, of course, been condemned. No one in power in this country apparently has the courage or desire to criticise Israel. The current administration allowed Israel to destroy much of Lebanon several months ago before making an effort to bring the attack to an end. That failure to intervene further destroyed any positive remaining US image in that area.

Israel isn't always on the right side, and must take some of the blame for their problems. Our unquestioning support for that country is the root of much of our poor standing in the Middle East at the moment. We have spent billions of dollars in aid to Israel, but they have no qualms about biting the hand that feeds them, if it is to their advantage. They have spied on us, attacked our ship and killed sailors and there has been no retribution. Our dollars keep going into a seemingly bottomless pit.

I applaud President Carter for his attempts to talk to all sides. He recognizes the need to have dialogue with both sides of an issue in an effort to find some middle ground. Furthermore, he knows that Hamas is the representative of the Palestinians, whether the US likes it or not and it must be the one with whom negotiations must take place. The Bush Administration pushed for free elections in Palestine, but when the winner was not the chosen one, severed relations and cut off aid. This is the typical Bush, spoiled child response. If the game is not played by his rules, he takes his ball and goes home.

As I write this, I think of the counter to the right and see that we get closer every day to the end of this nightmare called Bush. I hope that his replacement recognizes what President Carter realizes and that is the need to negotiate with your enemies not push them further into a corner with cowboy rhetoric. As president, Carter did not use the US military as his toy army and look for a playground where he could deploy it and flex his imagined muscles. This misuse of our military has come, of course, at the expense of the lives of over 4,000 men and women and brought untold misery to their families.