Democracy-building for freedom and peace

According to the Washington Post the Bush administration is using the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) as an “invisible conduit” to fund popular Palestinian Authority community projects to suade voters from electing representatives of the radical Islamic group Hamas.

The approximately $2 million program is being led by a division of the USAID. But no U.S. government logos appear with the projects or events being undertaken as part of the campaign, which bears no evidence of U.S. involvement and does not fall within the definitions of traditional development work.

I guess this falls under USAID’s “Supporting U.S. Geostrategic Interests” section for allocating funds. Hey, it’s not “nation-building” right?

One of the more interesting quotes from the article was:

“We are not favoring any particular party,” said James A. Bever, the USAID mission director for the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. “But we do not support parties that are on the terrorism list. We are here to support the democratic process.”

Fatah (The ones we are helping) and Hamas are the two leading parties with the latest opinion polls giving a slight edge to Fatah. U.S. officials are “coordinating the program through Rafiq Husseini, chief of staff to Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority and leader of Fatah.” How is this “not favoring any particular party?”

And it wouldn’t be a real U.S. government story without a little hypocrisy. We have no problem dumping dollars into elections around the world and yet the U.S. forbids campaign contributions from foreign nationals. This feels like the time my Grandmother offered a raspy, spittle-filled diatribe on the dangers of smoking as she lit up another cigarette. Do as I say, not as I do?

With past experience influencing elections (Ukraine, Afghanistan, Haiti, and now Israel) I’m not surprised about the Palestinian move. Bush even warned us in his 2005 State of the Union address:

Our aim is to build and preserve a community of free and independent nations, with governments that answer to their citizens, and reflect their own cultures. And because democracies respect their own people and their neighbors, the advance of freedom will lead to peace.

And what better example of this goal can the President provide to the world than the American government which answers to its citizens, respects its people and neighbors and advances peace.

Yes, that’s sarcasm dripping from my lips…

  1. My first reaction was to cut-and-paste the famous quote by Washington about meddling in the affairs of other nations, but I think we all know too well how that song goes. Instead, I thought I would comment on purse strings. You know… the ones we used to control. Congress would try and pass some hair-brained bill, sticking the American people with the tab. Americans could effectively say no by withholding their money. The same could be said for Executive adventures. Americans could stop that, too. And then came the printing press. Now, government gets to spend all the money it wants because they can bypass our seal of approval by getting a loan from you-know-who. All we get is a bill in the mail (after the fact) stating that we owe two million dollars on some crazy initiative to prop up a government half a world away. They act; we pay. In the end, we have no say.

  2. (Sometimes a thousand characters isn’t worth a complete comment!)

    I will cut-and-paste a quote, but one that is lesser known:
    “This power over the purse may, in fact, be regarded as the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people, for obtaining a redress of every grievance, and for carrying into effect every just and salutary measure.”
    ~ James Madison, The Federalist Papers, No. 58.

    Something to think about, especially with April 15th coming. Did you get your bill in the mail, yet?

  3. A thought provoking read for sure.

    I’m not sure exactly how much our President thinks we can do or how many places we’re going to win over with bribes. Palestine has a hate filled population and self-defeating system of government and that isn’t going to change until they come to grips with their own state of cultural retardation.

    I’m not a fan of big government spending, and I don’t think $2 million is going to change anything in Palestine. I don’t see any serious movement in the country yet for true fiscal reform. I think we’ve got more slippery slope to slide down yet.