How will the Saddam tapes contextualize the apparent U.S.-Israeli decision to sink Hamas? Having scored a stunning Victory for Democracy in Palestine, the administration now finds itself working to junk the outcome and declare, Harriet Miers-style, a do-over. Machiavellan phantoms whispered once that HM was the perfect sacrificial lamb, the fall girl who made for unmatchable cannon fodder and the trailblazer for Sam Alito. May we detect the same manufactured blunder here? On the warpath against tyranny in this world, is "freedom" itself a manipulable tool, and democracy-hypocrisy a deployable means to a realpolitikal end?
Battle lines are forming. It is easier now more than ever for Us or Them to establish complicities: if the tapes are a bombshell, Hamas looks more like another ticking bomb. A WMD surprise means the clock of logic is reset; cheating Hamas out of a free and fair election appears as an imperative, not an embarrassment. Hamas becomes a weapon of mass destruction. The narrative goes from democracy to necessity.
Western gumption to accomplish this unforgiving volte-face is measured against the index of faith in identity that surged in response to the Cartoon Intifada. The question of the authority of the cultural identity of the West afflicts Left as well as Right. Pat Buchanan now appears to relate to the beheaders, and writers in the New Left Review raise sharp rejoinders? What the devil is going on here?
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