Monday, December 10, 2007

"This book belonged to my wife. I keep it for sentimental value."

As the election season starts up (or at least as I start paying attention to it), I have noticed that one perennial issue has remained on the agenda, but as always, near the bottom: Israel. Israel is a hot-button topic for many people, one which polarizes and invokes strong feelings on both sides.

Personally, I don't care much for Israel's policies. Nevertheless, there are many reasons to support her that I must acknowledge as legitimate. I do sympathize with her position as one of (if not THE) only nations on the Earth whose destruction is called for in the charters of most of her neighbors. Unfortunately, in my experience, this is not the most commonly-cited reason to support Israel. That honor belongs to the following misguided position (this one taken from Mike Huckabee's Campaign Website):

I am a steadfast supporter of Israel, our staunch ally in the War on Terror, the only fully-functioning democracy in the Middle East, and our greatest friend in that region. (emphasis added)
I have an number of problems with this argument, the greatest coming from the italicized text. I will concede for the sake of argument that Israel is "the only fully-functioning democracy" in the Middle Eastern region (even though 'democracy' has been in the 'Middle East' to varying degrees for some time now). Even so, the idea that Israel's democracy will have any positive effect on the region is preposterous. As I stated above, Israel's neighbors generally hate it and it is for precisely that reason that Israel's democracy will have absolutely no effect on the governments that surround it. If the United States really wants to spread democracy in the region, we should actually lessen our relationship with Israel and bolster up other embryonic traces of democracy (Turkey, Egypt, etc.). By continuing this intimate relationship with Israel, we are hurting our credibility in the region.

I do acknowledge the more subtle argument inherent in the offending statement, which is that America has a responsibility to support democracy wherever it may be. While I do agree with that idea, I do not believe that it necessarily follows that we must support democracy above all other interests. There are interests of international peace and security that we must acknowledge which may take precedence over the value of democracy. We cannot practically support Israel alone in the hope that the rest of the Middle East will eventually settle down by itself.

Despite all my feelings against it, I hope that Huckabee and the like are supporting Israel for the valid political reasons I've stated and not in the hope that they will end up on the right side in Megiddo.

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