February 13, 2006
Pre-emptive surrender: Russia and France collapse to HamasBy James Lewis
Russia and France have both signaled an immediate willingness to recognize Hamas, the Islamist terrorist group that won the Palestinian elections. For the sake of form, France even denied that Hamas was a terrorist organization.
At this point not even the most obtuse Lefty in Europe believes that line (although it was an article of faith that Yasser Arafat was a peace—loving leader of the oppressed). Vladimir Putin has just completed a diplomatic visit to Spain, of all places, not exactly the biggest power in Europe, but the one that is led by the purest old—style leftwing government. Putin seems to be trying to influence the naive and vain light—weight Zapatero to support Russia in the inner circles of the EU.
Hamas is a creature of the Muslim Brotherhood, the folks who assassinated Anwar Sadat after he made peace with Israel. Thus Putin and France are now in bed with radical Islam, at least when it comes to Israel. However, Israel declines to play the role of Czechoslovakia before World War Two, and be victimized for the sake of appeasing dangerous fanatics. And with 200 nuclear weapons, there is no rational reason why it should. Like the six—shooters of the Old West, Israel is in possession of the Great Equalizer.
All this is perfectly obvious to France and Russia, of course, which are both worried about Islamist radicalism at home. So Jacques Chirac has been making nice to Hamas for years, while occasionally nodding in the direction of Israel's right to exist. Putin not to long ago asked for Israeli help in combating the Chechnyan Islamist rebellion, which continues to seethe.
The overall effect of this is to put the onus for responsible behavior on the United States. Once again.
France has long had a policy of strategic surrender. After the murderous insanity of World War One, as socialism took a firm grip on the French psyche, no one was ready to face another war with Germany. So France played both sides. If the Germans won, they had the Vichy government led by General Petain. If les "Anglo—Saxons" won, they had De Gaulle to pretend that France was on the side of the Allies. The policy led to rich dividends. France came out of the war without significant losses, except, of course, for some hundreds of thousands of Jews.
The public support Russia and France just gave to Hamas costs them little. It simply gives them a chance to try to stay out of any fight that may happen down the line. But these countries are not exactly new to playing double games. Behind the scenes they are no doubt passing on intelligence information about Hamas and Iran to the US, Israel, and Britain. They have no love for Hamas or the Iranian version of Islamofascism. They just see the new radicals coming to power, and are kowtowing to them.
So recognizing Hamas without even going through the motions of demanding Hamas recognition of previous Palestinian commitments under the Oslo Accords to recognize Israel's right to exist, is a total collapse by France and Russia, but not of their own narrow interests. Only Israel is on the line, and so far, joined only by the United States. Russia and France are therefore pointing the radicals in the direction of the US and Israel, and yelling "don't blame us! It's all their fault!"
That is the exact same meaning of the massive European protest campaign against the US—UK invasion of Iraq five years ago. Europe blamed the US, and thereby made nice with the more dangerous forces in Iran and Iraq. All the self—righteous outrage against the United States meant nothing. It was just a way to stay safe, or relatively safe.
Curiously, under Angela Merkel, Germany may be swinging back toward a more responsible foreign policy. Gerhardt Schroeder, the Jimmy Carter of the German post—war period, is now explicitly in the pocket of Putin, having been immediately hired by the Russian oil monopoly Gazprom after losing the Chancellorship. Schroeder, too, is sounding the preemptive surrender line. But Merkel visited Israel immediately after the death threat from the little fanatic in Tehran.
The Unites States still has the dominant military presence in the region. Our naval presence keeps open the flow of oil through the Gulf. Ultimately, everyone except the radicals want us there. And the US still has the spine and the backbone to see Hamas and Iran for what they are, and to say so in public.
The clearest voice of preemptive surrender is the doyenne of leftist hysteria in Britain, Polly Toynbee, who wrote in the Guardian that:
British policy is unclear at present. The UK Telegraph believes that the Blair government is still coddling its domestic terrorists.
So Europe twists and turns, and the fact is that American power is still the decisive factor; that, and Israel's determination never to go down in a second Holocaust.
All the Polly Toynbees in Europe will hate it when America strikes down Iranian nuclear weapons plants. But there are millions of others who greeted this weekend's reports of American preparations for war with a sense of relief.
Like Saddam, Iran has a possible ace in the hole — the use of terrorists to attack their adversaries at home, perhaps with dirty nukes. Jacques Chirac recently laid down the bottom line on that strategy in no uncertain terms, a rare event in French foreign diplomacy. As the International Herald—Tribune reported:
In other words, even France would find a "return address" for a large—scale terror attack in Paris. It would respond to Tehran with considerable force.
The chess pieces are lining up. France and Germany, and appeasers all over the world, are calculating the chances of surrender to Hamas and Iran. In the Palestinian territories, Hamas will be treated just like Arafat's Fatah party. In only a few years, Hamas will be praised in the world media for its peaceful intentions, even as it commits deniable terrorist acts against Israel. Such worldwide mendacity may be annoying, but it is not fatal either to the US or to Israel.
If the radicals could be defeated, everybody would heave a sign of relief. Meanwhile, look for Russia and France, and maybe others, to play a double game. Overtly they will try to make peace with the radicals. Covertly they will side with the US and Israel in opposing them. But the hard jub is up to America and Israel.
James Lewis is a frequent contributor.