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February 28, 2006
JINSA Report #553
Bad is Never Good
The "Bad is Good" theory made the rounds this month. It was "good" that
Iran's president Ahmadinejad called the Holocaust a hoax and announced
his intention to obliterate Israel. Similarly, it was "good" that Hamas
won the Palestinian legislative election. Both were variations on the
theme that the more extreme the bad behavior and the more overt the
threat, the less able the U.S. and others would be to pretend you can
have politics as usual with terrorist regimes.
There are two assumptions underlying the theory. First, that the
previous bad behavior by Iran or the PA wasn't bad enough or overt
enough to engender action but this behavior is really, really overtly
bad. Second, since the world is now clear about just how bad things are,
countries will actually do something about it. Both assumptions are faulty.
The problem with the first is that things were already bad enough. In
its 26 years of governing, the Islamic Republic of Iran has exported
revolution and fomented terrorism across the Middle East, Africa and
South America. It has assassinated its enemies in Europe. It has
subverted Lebanon and threatened Israel with missiles. It has
imprisoned, tortured and stoned to death its own citizens. It is corrupt
morally, politically and economically. It has used its oil money to
build long-range missiles and create the infrastructure for nuclear
weapons - and may, in fact, already have nuclear capability.
And the PA? Since 1993, the Palestinians have had a form of self-rule
that produced an impoverished, radical, angry people ready to shed blood
- Israeli, American or their own - to turn the clock back to 1947 and
undo the "mistake" of Israel's creation. They never changed the PLO
Charter that called for armed revolution to destroy Israel. Arafat and
Abbas engaged in race baiting (Abbas is a Holocaust denier from way
back), Jew-baiting and terrorism. They built an education system that
taught children to hate and kill, and a "justice system" that murdered
Palestinians in the street. They were corrupt, venal and without a
vision for their posterity other than violence. That wasn't bad enough?
They are being replaced by Hamas, which has a Charter similar to that of
the PLO, a similar reverence for violence and bloodshed and a similar
desire to destroy Israel.
The problem with the second is that international politics tend toward
"the triumph of hope over experience." Diplomats call on Iran and Hamas
to "behave" and are probably prepared to wait years for compliance.
Three years of European-led talks with Iran gave the Mullahs three more
years of nuclear progress. Secretary Rice and others insist that Hamas
recognize Israel - which it will not do - while funneling money to the
Palestinians through NGOs, allowing Hamas to use its illicit sources of
funds for terrorism and cronyism. Insisting that "pothole politics" will
make Hamas more responsive to international concerns - although it
certainly didn't moderate the Iranians – U.S. Envoy to the Quartet James
Wolfensohn has been soliciting money from the Arab countries for the PA.
Everyone is jockeying for a way to find a success, no matter how small,
that will allow them to say, "It isn't bad enough to be a crisis."
But bad is always bad; bad is never good.
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