Hogan's Alley

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Breathless Release of a US/Israeli "Plot" That Was Already Widely Guessed At

The lead story on the NY Times' website is a report, apparently "leaked" by insiders in the State Department and Israeli government, that both governments and probably the EU will cut off funds to a Hamas led Palestinian government. The article's writer, Steven Erlanger, alleges that these steps will be done in order to destabilize the Hamas government and force a call for a new election by Palestine President Abbas once the Palestinian government is starved and no longer able to function.

In the first place, the withdrawal of support from a Hamas government has been openly and widely anticipated in the media and the halls of power of all the governments involved, including by Hamas. Hamas has been and has been declared as a terrorist organization for years. As the Times article says:

Israel says it will cut off those payments once Hamas takes power, and put the money in escrow. On top of that, some of the aid that the Palestinians currently receive will be stopped or reduced by the United States and European Union governments, which will be constrained by law or politics from providing money to an authority run by Hamas. The group is listed by Washington and the European Union as a terrorist organization.

It doesn't require secret discussions to anticipate this likely outcome given that Hamas has so far publicly refused to modify its intent to continue to fight to remove all Jews from Palestine.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, what the hell is going on in the U.S. government? Apparently any one of the thousands of Federal employees in CIA, State, Defense, etc. feel they have an absolute license to talk to the press about any policy they dislike and put the worst possible spin on those policies as they do so. In fact, they seem to believe it is their moral and political duty to leak, presumably until they get the President and/or policy that they prefer, at which point those who oppose the then sanctified policy will commence leaking for all they're worth. Of course, the press and the political opposition will always support the leakers as patriots.

It seems to me that it is fine to leak regarding corruption, mismanagement or malfeasance of any kind. It is also proper to bring the unanticipated impact of domestic policies to the light of day, but to try to preempt the diplomatic options of the United States because your guy didn't get elected seems to me to border on kind of disloyalty that would have been called treasonous in former times.

Those currently unhappy with the Bush Administration may see this as a perfectly appropriate way to operate a kind of shadow government or government in exile. The problem is that, unless one assumes that there will never again be a Democratic government in America, what's good for the goose will become good for the gander. No American government may ever again be able to conduct foreign policy with a single voice or, when appropriate, in secret. The nation, all of us, will be the weakened on the world stage in this new era.

But at least the press will be kept busy.