Iran-Contra 2.0

A number of people are talking about David Rose’s article on US clusterfuckery with its Palestinian policy. If you need any convincing that the entire Administration–and Condi Rice above all–is dangerously incompetent, read this article.

The story explains how the Administration pushed an election for the Palestinians, not seeing what every sane observer saw–that Hamas would win. Immediately after the election, Condi started pressuring Mahmoud Abbas to dissolve Parliament. When he refused, the Administration started backing the Fatah strongman, Mohammad Dahlan, in hopes that he could strengthen Fatah and the Palestinian Authority’s security organizations–which had been devastated by Israel during the intifada–sufficiently to overcome Hamas. This set off a civil war between Fatah and Hamas. To end the bloodshed, Saudi’s King Abdullah brokered a national unity government, without warning the US he would do so. In response to Abdullah’s unity government plan, the State Department developed its own $1.27 billion plan, what Hamas considered "a blueprint for a U.S.-backed Fatah coup." The US handed that plan to Abbas and had him adopt it as if it were his own. Hamas responded by taking over Gaza and capturing the Egyptian weapons intended to strengthen Fatah.

In other words, the story is a description of the US’ profoundly incompetent Palestinian policy, one which has exacerbated problems with each new development. As one Fatah commander described it, the whole plan seemed destined to leave Hamas in control.

You know,” he says, “since the takeover, we’ve been trying to enter the brains of Bush and Rice, to figure out their mentality. We can only conclude that having Hamas in control serves their overall strategy, because their policy was so crazy otherwise.”

I wanted to focus on what Rose calls "Iran Contra 2.0." When the US decided to strengthen Fatah so it could combat Hamas, Congress refused to fund the effort. Given our political climate, Congressmen are not about to green light giving Palestinians–of any faction–improved arms and military training. Instead, the Administration turned to a tactic used in Iran-Contra: to have other governments fund the US’ desired foreign policy.

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