“Hamas’ Worst Nightmare”
Sean Hackbarth reports on a recent weblogger conference with John McCain. I don’t know if my colleague James participated in this one, though I know that he has in the past. What Hackbarth highlighted from the conference, and no doubt everyone else will, too, is this:
Jennifer Rubin asked if Obama has given an unhelpful signal to Hamas? McCain responded that it’s clear who Hamas wants to be President. So does Daniel Ortega. “I will be Hamas’ worst nightmare,” said McCain.
Lovely. Of course, these types of sound bites rarely hurt a candidate in America. But they are worrisome. Let’s not forget that Hamas is, for better or for worse, the elected government of the Palestinian Authority. So as long as the United States feels the need to meddle in affairs in the Middle East, they’re going to need to sit down with Hamas for any workable solution, and rhetoric stolen from bad Sylvester Stallone movies isn’t exactly going to incline them to help out. I’m not saying that it’s necessary to kowtow to them, but one would assume that a basic level of politeness isn’t too much to expect from a presidential candidate.
Additionally, it’s worth pointing out that Hamas has not engaged in any violence outside of Israel and the Palestinian territories, nor have they ever attacked any American targets. Hamas may be a loathesome group, but they are not necessarily enemies of the United States. Indeed, when members of the miliatry wing of Hamas called for attacks on the United States, the leadership at the top quickly shut them down. So why does an American Presidential candidate feel the need to be their “worst nightmare”?
UPDATE (James Joyner): I missed this one, I’m afraid. I was invited and accepted but got tied up with work.
The problem we have here is the same that the Brits had with Sein Fein and the Israelis long had with Fatah: the difficulty of separating a terrorist group’s paramilitary wing from its political wing.
Any American president, especially these days, wants to be an enemy of the former. But, as Alex says, he also needs to face the reality of the latter. That’s easier said than done, since the distinction generally amounts to a legal fiction.