Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Will the spread of Democracy be Israel’s greatest risk?

Right now we’re all reading about the large turnout in the Palestinian elections in favor of Hamas. Many are calling it a victory for Democracy as the violent wing moves toward the political mainstream. The hope is that as official members of government it will open up dialog with Israel and lead toward a diplomatic solution, halting the violence that currently plagues the region. Is this what will happen or will Hamas exploit its new political capital to wage war as a nation? Though not officially a state, since they are recognized by the UN and holding elections, what else more do they need?

The potential problem as I see it, is that for years Hamas has stayed out of the Palestinian Authority which has allowed the authority to act as a continuous buffer between Israel, the western governments that support them and the militant Muslim wing that wants them destroyed. However now as part of that same authority the buffer has been removed but not Hamas’s desire to expel Israel, which means the chance for escalation can only increase.

In Samuel Huntington’s controversial best seller, “The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order”, he prophesized in the late 1990’s how the world would shift from an alignment of nations based on ideology (Democracy vs. Communism) to a world aligned based on cultural beliefs. If he is correct, which so far he has, peace between Israel and the new Palestinian government will be difficult. Old hatred’s are hard to remove, especially when both groups have little in common.

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