Daniel R. DePetris: The Political Docket

Jimmy Carter: The Naive Diplomat

Posted in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict by Dan on June 22, 2009

As I woke up this morning, jumped on my computer and started investigating today’s news over a hot cup of coffee, one story in particular jumped to the forefront above all others.  Not surprisingly, it dealt with the ongoing and exceedingly frustrating political and security conflicts between the Israeli’s and the Palestinians.  Fortunately, the piece was written in a rather unique perspective, going beyond the usual give-and-take between Palestine’s radical Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip and the Israeli Government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  In fact, the Fox News article did not even mention the recent rhetorical exchanges between the Hamas leadership and their Israeli counterparts:  To my immediate delight, the focal point of the article dealt with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter’s trip to the Gaza Strip, in which he personally met with the U.S.-designated terrorist group in the hopes of persuading Hamas officials into a peaceful dialogue with Israeli politicians.

Scrolling down the pages, I was especially pleased to hear that a high-powered American broker decided to get involved in an intimate way with Israel’s most threatening adversary.  After all, Jimmy Carter is well-known throughout the international community for his extensive peace efforts towards the violent-ridden Middle East (it was in fact Carter who successfully brokered a 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt during his tenure as President of the United States).  Certainly, the respect that Mr. Carter routinely receives from the Muslim Community, including from extremist organizations that view the west with outright disdain, is a testament to how influential his overtures are in the region.  The very fact that a network of terrorists would agree to meet with Carter is particularly impressive and unprecedented.

Casting President Carter’s successes aside, I was absolutely shocked to learn about the former president’s main policy recommendation from his trip overseas.  According to sources very-well informed about White House activities, Mr. Carter is prepared to recommend a policy that goes against the very fabric of America’s counterterrorism agenda:  remove Hamas from the U.S.-designed terrorism list.  While this recommendation may very well be an attempt by Carter to coerce Hamas into recognizing Israel’s legitimacy, it has been historically proven that a “carrots” approach is unlikely to work with the movement’s fundamentalist ideology.  With that being said, asking the Obama administration to remove one of the most lethal militant groups from the list is not only dangerous, but potentially devastating to America’s global campaign against terrorism.  Imagine what the reactions of other terrorist organizations around the world would be if the U.S. decided to embark on this path.  Such a decision would certainly not help America’s image as an unwavering superpower in the face of an asymmetric enemy.

To show how dangerous Hamas fighters are to regional stability, let’s list a few “accomplishments” that they are most known for:

1)      In 1988, Hamas publishes its official manifesto, declaring that “Israel will exist until Islam obliterates it…Jihad is the only solution for the Palestinian question.”

2)      Hamas sends suicide bombers into Israeli cities to oppose and undermine the highly-acclaimed Oslo Accords.

3)      Hamas militants perform a round of shootings and bombings throughout Israel in 1994.

4)      Two suicide bombings in Jerusalem claim the lives of 45 people.  Hamas admits responsibility for the attacks.

5)      Suicide bombers in Jerusalem kill 14 and injure 150 Israelis.  Once again, Hamas claims responsibility.

6)      140 people are killed in a Tel-Aviv nightclub bombing n June of 2001

7)      Hamas suicide bombers kill 20 innocent civilians on an Israeli bus, including six children.

8)      Hamas boycotts the 20005 Palestinian presidential elections due to the success of the pro-western candidate, Mahmoud Abbas.

9)      In 2006 and 2007, Hamas wins the Palestinian Parliamentary elections while taking control of the Gaza Strip by force.  The movement pledges to continue its campaign of resistance against Israeli occupation.

With such a barbaric list of violent attacks against innocent Israeli civilians, did President Carter sincerely believe that U.S. assurances would turn anti-Jewish zealots away from terrorism?  Apparently so.

One day after Carter’s “historic” visit to the Gaza Strip, Hamas officials have already made it publicly known that any recognition of Israel would be labeled as unacceptable and meaningless towards a comprehensive peace.  One can only hope that the former president will learn from his mistakes.

Note to self:  Negotiating with ideologues is a waste of time.

-Daniel R. DePetris

-Information includes Ben Hubbard of the Associated Press and Reena Ninan from Fox News.

-Citations from ABC News, BBC, CBC, CNN, Guardian, Time Magazine, The New Yorker, Council on Foreign Relations, and Foreign Affairs magazine.


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