Sunday, February 19, 2006
  POLITICS: "Kennanizing" Hamas and the Contradictions of Fundamentalists being Elected
Seeing pictures of Hamas leaders being sworn in as members of the Palestinian parliament, it strikes me that their underlying beliefs are fundamentally against the principles which make democracy what it is.

The ideals of self-determination, pluralism, open dissent, and tolerance are necessarily part of any truly democratic society, and Islamic extremists, such as Hamas, certainly would not endorse the effects of those ideals in their communities. Yet here they are, being duly sworn in as elected members of a legislature which gave those voting a choice. The voters of Palestine (theoretically) could have elected political leaders of any stripe, including those exactly opposed to the fundamentalist ideas that Hamas espouses, and with Fatah and Hamas both being members of the same legislature, in some sense, they did.

What does this mean? In my view, the fact that Hamas and other extremists are participating in these elections is the beginning of the end for them. The basic tenets of their beliefs, theocratic rule based on the Qur'an, and the lack of self-determination and tolerance in some respects, cannot survive in an open democracy. By participating in that democracy, fundamentalists are creating contradiction.

To take from George Kennan, the key to defeating terrorism is to force fundamentalists to participate in democracy. For each extremist government elected in Iraq and political sea-change empowering Hamas in Palestine, fundamentalists will eventually fall within the weight of their own contradictions. Islamic extremism cannot survive while participating in the democratic process which necessarily reinforces the ideals of choice, self-determination, and to some extent, freedom.

And, much to my chagrin, this seems to be exactly what the Bush administration's goals are (not that I agree with their methods-- See Fukuyama --> overmilitarized). And in that sense, it is important that the Bush people have the strength to maintain their convictions despite seeming backlash in the election of fundamentalists.

It is only a matter of time for fundamentalists, containment is the key.
  Afta Afta: After the End of History
Franci Fukuyama's latest piece in the NYTimes magazine has an extremely interesting take on the policies of the Bush Administration, titled "After Neoconservatism":
More than any other group, it was the neoconservatives both inside and outside the Bush administration who pushed for democratizing Iraq and the broader Middle East. They are widely credited (or blamed) for being the decisive voices promoting regime change in Iraq, and yet it is their idealistic agenda that in the coming months and years will be the most directly threatened. Were the United States to retreat from the world stage, following a drawdown in Iraq, it would in my view be a huge tragedy, because American power and influence have been critical to the maintenance of an open and increasingly democratic order around the world. The problem with neoconservatism's agenda lies not in its ends, which are as American as apple pie, but rather in the overmilitarized means by which it has sought to accomplish them. What American foreign policy needs is not a return to a narrow and cynical realism, but rather the formulation of a "realistic Wilsonianism" that better matches means to ends.

I agree with most of what Mr. Fukuyama says, with the exception of what I have written above.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
  Isn't Modern Art Wierd?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

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