Friday, January 27, 2006

Hamas Rules: The Mideast's Latest Bush-Pulled Election

One of the silliest of many silly theories produced by the stand-up foreign policy comedy of Thomas Friedman was that no two nations with McDonald’s franchises would ever go to war. Friedman thought of his so-called Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Prevention in terms of globalism as a club that “permanently restricts” a country’s “capacity for troublemaking and promotes gradual democratization and widening peace.” He had the good sense to qualify his thesis with a tongue in one check and crossed fingers in a quote by Francis Fukuyama, who correctly predicted to him that he would not be “surprised if in the next 10 years several of these McDonald’s countries go to war with each other.” Those little wars in the Balkans did the trick. With them died the notion that globalism could ever be the day trader’s Gandhiism. Then President Bush came along with a Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Prevention of his own: Any country that reaches the point of free and fair elections will join the community of peace-loving, democratic nations. It was one of those cluster-cream puffs Bush fed the world in the aftermath of the 2001 attacks as an analgesic for his neo-imperial shock and awe. The first flaw in the theory was its author, a man of many little pieces, but not of peace. The second was its assumption that elections are automatically democratic, virtuous or beneficial. The GOP’s wins by Supreme Court in 2000 and by demagoguery in 2004 should have been hint one that those assumptions needn’t apply. Iran’s recurring elections, and now Iraq’s, should have been further hints that oligarchs and kooks can play and win the democratic game. What Bush hadn’t figured on is the chicken coming home to roost in the heart of his chickenhawk designs: Terrorists have won the Palestinian election, fair and square. It’s nothing to celebrate. But Hamas’s win is part of the same Mideastern streak of fair and fearsome elections feeding on popular resentment. And they all have Bush’s radicalizing crusade for “democracy” to thank.