As one who is admittedly ignorant of the nuances of Mideast history and politics, I nevertheless fail to see, based on what I know, why anyone is shocked by the Palestinian election results. On one side we had a famously corrupt, occasionally literally entrenched ruling party that has failed in its stated mission at nearly every agonizing step. (Corrupt yet clearly incompetent: what corrupt ruling party worth their salt would fail to rig an election in their favor?) As if that were not enough, Fatah also had our open support, which is usually unwelcome by Western European parties let alone those in the Mideast. On the other side, we had a well-organized, sufficiently popular movement that has provided social services to its “constituents” and appears at least to be less corrupt.
For the purposes of this discussion the horribly wrong reasons for Hamas’ popularity are beside the point, as is the question of how corrupt it may or may not be. The important thing is how Hamas and Fatah are viewed by the Palestinian electorate, which, it is sometimes forgotten, had the right to make the decision for themselves as they saw fit, not as we or the Israelis or anyone else see fit.
This is just one more attempt by history to get a word in edgewise and state, once more, that democratic elections are not the be-all and end-all of sociopolitical development as we seem to see it. Wherever did anyone get the idea that democratic elections always have good results (i.e., good for us or even the electorate in question)? Germany 1933 has been dragged out so many times its handles are starting to come off, and just look what it does to the floor. A more recent, though shoddily constructed, example is Serbia 1992. The framers of our Constitution saw the danger clearly and took what they thought to be the necessary steps (Electoral College, indirect Senate elections) to mitigate the effects of a tyranny of the majority.
I am not against democracy and elections per se but we have to take the blinders off and understand just what can happen. It is not guaranteed that everything will come up roses; it could come up like titan arum.
I really want to hear from people on this.
As a final note I want to make clear that I in no way endorse Hamas and its reprehensible message and tactics, and I must again emphasize my profound lack of knowledge about the region. On that note, I read A Peace to End All Peace years ago and found it an excellent introduction to the whole mess.