Interesting: Now that the Hamas shockwaves are settling, I'm finding opinions on the Left and the Right that are urging everyone to calm down -- saying this is not a big deal, and in fact could be good.
Left-winger Robert Wright tells Mickey Kaus (where is Mickey on the spectrum nowadays?) in this video that the status quo has been stagnant, and Hamas has grown in power in the process. With Hamas involved in the political process, they may be forced to moderate their positions. Of course, they didn't have to moderate their views much to get elected. But now that they're in power, they have the responsibility of the Palestinian people in their hands, and they might actually think before they act.
Rush Limbaugh takes a they're-all-the-same track by pointing out that Fatah was neck-deep in terrorism as well. Now that the Palestinian government is officially run by terrorists, government leaders can't deny knowledge of or influence over future terrorist attacks. Even if Hamas doesn't ease up on the attacks, Israel can rightfully hold the Palestinian government responsible for anything that happens in the future.
I guess we have to wait and see. Lots of world leaders are condemning the elections, promising not to work with Hamas if they continue to sponsor terrorism and the destruction of Israel. Then again, Iran has long sponsored terrorism and the destruction of Israel, so we should be used to this sort of thing by now. I'm worried that Hamas will take their new power as an opportunity to funnel more money and organization to their terrorism operations. Regardless, I don't expect anything to improve soon in that area. Hopefully that means nothing will get much worse either.
That seems to be the theme of this advice (via Kevin Drum).
For America, I think it's extremely important right now to handle this right: honor the will of the people, demonstrate a commitment to democratic process, and see what happens. Give Hamas the chance to prove its intentions. Don't get too upset about the inevitable bursts of objectionable rhetoric by excited victors — test deeds, not early words. Above all, don't give the Islamist hardliners the winning argument they crave about American hypocrisy. Refusing to deal with Hamas right now could effectively kill American attempts to promote democracy in the Middle East for a generation.That seems to be what President Bush is doing so far. I still think democratizing the Middle East is the best approach. Unfortunately, it can't solve everything.