- In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the
US government put in place sweeping new laws and regulations "aimed
at identifying criminals and terrorist financiers and their networks across
borders in order to disrupt and dismantle their organizations." According
to the Bush administration the program has worked beautifully: the US has
seized over $150 million in assets designated for terrorist organizations,
blocked tens of millions of dollars in terrorist financial transactions,
and gained the support of the Saudi government for greater accountability
of that government's support for terrorist groups.
- The hectoring come-out-with-your-hands-up-or-I'll-cut-off-your-money
foreign policy of this government has a long history. Angry with the British
for "their intemperate behavior", Thomas Jefferson slapped them
with an embargo. The British were not impressed. Nor were Jefferson's fellow
Americans. While our third president never missed a meal, his embargo threw
thousands out of work, led to illegal searches and seizures of Boston businesses,
and sparked the War of 1812--during which Washington was razed to the ground.
Unbowed, the slaveholding Jefferson (who wrote "all men are created
equal") retired to his mansion muttering that his political enemies
had conspired against him. They thought otherwise, calling his policy a
"miserable and mischievous failure".
- While the US has described the policy
of withholding the American allowance from the Middle East's naughty children
"a great victory", the results are eerily reminiscent of Jefferson's
miserable failure. A lawsuit against a group of Saudi government officials
accused of financing the 9/11 attacks was dismissed in January of 2005,
and two proscribed "terrorist" organizations--Hizballah and Hamas--have
recently entered their respective governments through the subversive practice
of actually winning parliamentary seats in free elections.
- "Money is the lifeblood of terrorist
operations," President Bush said in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
He was so right: in 2004, CBS News reported that Halliburton, Conoco-Philips
and General Electric were operating "offshore subsidiaries" doing
business with "rogue countries". Halliburton, CBS reported, "sells
about $40 million worth of oil field services to the Iranian government".
- The most embarrassing failure of the
administration's policy, however, came on January 25, when Hamas out-polled
Fateh in the Palestinian parliamentary elections. Their victory was all
the more surprising because the US had trumpeted the success of its program
to end Saudi funding for the group--a subject that George Bush confronted
then Crown Prince Abdullah with in a discussion at his Texas ranch in April
of 2002. By August of 2003 terrorism experts confirmed that Saudi funding
for Hamas programs had in fact been significantly cut. Still, the administration
was not satisfied, so produced millions of dollars in funding for Fateh
candidates in the weeks prior to the recent Palestinian vote. Details of
the program were leaked to The Washington Post by administration officials--in
the apparent belief that the US is so beloved by everyday Palestinians
that when they learned who Washington wanted them to vote for they would
slavishly pull the right levers. A Hamas official got i! t right: "The
Post article could not have come at a better time," he said. "It
gave us more votes."
- Enraged that Palestinians might consider
foreign funding of the Fateh campaign as undue interference in their electoral
process--and oblivious to claims that such support made Fateh candidates
look like America's lickspittle puppies--Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice launched a lecture tour of Middle East capitals seeking a cutoff of
funds to the Palestinian government. She was backed by a chorus of Washington
Middle East experts who called the Hamas victory a "democratic coup",
while portentously intoning that Hamas "must face the consequences
of its actions". In case the Hamas leadership didn't take this hint,
one former diplomat reminded them that, "Israel supplies Palestinian
electricity and water, and it collects taxes and customs revenues that
provide much of the money needed for the Palestinian administration."
That seems plain enough: we don't care if you're elected, if you don't
recognize Israel you can drink from the puddles of your stinking refugee
camps. Is thi! s what George Bush intended--foreign policy by blackmail?
- Columnist Charles Krauthammer, that great
humanitarian, that lover of western "values", was even more blunt.
Hamas must be cut off completely, he wrote, with "no recognition,
no negotiation, no aid, nothing. And not just assistance to a Hamas government
but all assistance." That is to say: let them starve.
- Yeah, sure, that'll teach 'em.- /Published
2/3/2006 © bitterlemons-international.org/
- Mark Perry is vice president of Jefferson
Waterman International, a Washington, D.C. consulting firm, and co-director
of Conflicts Forum.