23 February 2009
Gaza: Why are We Doing This?
Secretary Clinton has announced that the U.S. is going to spend $900,000,000 in Gaza to repair the damage done by Israel during its recent punitive expedition against the region's Hamas government. The State Department is quick to emphasize that the duly elected local government -- Hamas -- will have no role in spending this largesse. It will presumably all be done through the more friendly Palestinian Authority. This would seem to violate the federalist, state-rights principles Republicans hold dear, but I doubt that we'll hear any member of the GOP complain about the Obama-Clinton policy, except perhaps to carp about the amount spent. Not that there'd be anything wrong with their carping. Two questions occur to me. First, since the U.S. will probably have to borrow this money, why not get the likely lenders to just hand the money directly to Gaza? Perhaps because they couldn't be trusted to keep it out of Hamas' hands. Second, since Israel did the damage, why aren't they made to pay what would, in effect, be reparations for their disproportionate outburst against the rocket launchers? Why do I, as an American, feel like a parent who has to pay to fix the neighbor's window that my kid just broke? Why should I feel that way when it's a rotten analogy and Israel is a grown-up among nations? By doing this, aren't we acknowledging that Israel is some sort of dependency or client state of ours, when we should strive the other way, to dissociate ourselves, if not from Israel itself, then from responsibility for their pranks? Shouldn't the last thing we want to tell an angry Arab world be: "We take responsibility for Israel's actions?" But that seems to be the exact message of this generous offering from Washington. I suppose this donation is "change" of a kind, but it's not the sort that many Americans voted for.