Two items, the first from a European blog called Snouck Hurgronje, which has a link to a Jihadi sniper video showing attacks on American soldiers. I don't normally link to that stuff but I'll make an exception in this case because it's important to remember that one is facing the enemy -- not misunderstood people in colorful costumes -- an enemy which delights in the death of Americans. The second is a link to an outstanding audio tape of an interview with Ayaan Hirsi Ali. In case some readers have forgotten, Ms. Ali was once a convinced Islamist who approved of the fatwa on Salman Rushdie. She is now the subject of a fatwa herself. Although I don't agree with all of her policy positions the audio exemplifies better than anything else how a quality mind works when exposed to ideas and to facts.
But those two items are merely background for this bit of news. Hamas may have won the Palestinian elections, which may in turn make Benjamin Netanyahu the next Prime Minister of Israel. CNN is now reporting that the current Palestinian government has resigned. The election of Hamas taken together with the crisis in Iran suggests that that the world is being challenged by very deeply rooted forces which traditional international institutions may be incapable of handling. The way to safety hangs on events that haven't resolved themselves yet. Whether the policy of democraticization has blunted the rush to madness -- Egyptian blogger the Big Pharaoah thinks Middle East democracy boosts Islamists; whether Iran will acquire the bomb; whether Israel will draw its sword to prevent it; whether Syria's ruling dynasty will fall; whether Europe will break out of its demographic death-spiral. Because success relies so much on the exploitation of contingent events it's a dangerous time for America to be divided, with one side unsure of whether any real danger besides BushchimpHitler exists and the other in the grip of a half-articulated policy; both almost fatalistically slouching towards a future where there are no certain or even probable endings.
The White House sent out this press release on January 24th.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, Minister, in two days we're going to be having elections in the Palestinian territories in which the militant group Hamas is expected to do very well and quite possibly enter the government. My question is: Can the United States and the European Union accept and work with a Palestinian government that includes members of Hamas?
SECRETARY RICE: The first point that I'd like to make is that I think it will be a great day for the Palestinian people to engage in elections. They are in a transition to the creation of a basis for a democratic state and we look forward to supporting their efforts.
There are certain realities. The United States has -- Hamas is a terrorist group from the policies of the United States and it is a group that does not recognize the existence of Israel and it is a group that has not renounced violence and the problem, of course, is a very practical problem. In addition to the fact that the United States won't change its policies toward Hamas, the practical problem is that the Palestinian leadership in the roadmap is committed to a renunciation of violence, committed to dismantling terrorist organizations, committed to a peaceful road.
It probably goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway, that it's hard to have negotiations with a party that you do not recognize its right to exist. And so if we indeed do want a path to peace between Israel and the Palestinian people, it is going to have to be one in which Palestinians and any Palestinian government is committed to a peaceful path.
I might also add that this has been said by the Palestinian Authority President on a number of occasions that there has to be one authority and one gun. And as said by the Quartet that it is not possible to have -- I'm paraphrasing but -- one foot in terrorism and the other foot in politics. It simply doesn't work.