Food for Thought

Posted by Mike Merritt in Society on

As I take a break from packing for a work trip I’ll be on next week, I’ve been reading tons of blog posts around the Internet about this latest Israeli-Palestinian war.  Then I saw this comment by our own Jason Steck.  The following is the portion that piqued my interest:

If the Palestinians had elected a government that was open to peace with Israel in ANY form, you might have a legitimate point. But they didn’t. They elected a government that openly declares its desire and intention to commit genocide. There can be no compromise with that.

I have no misconceptions on the goals of Hamas.  They wish to see the State of Israel utterly destroyed, and would do it today if they could.  This is simply a fact.  However, I do have some questions.

They’re pretty simple.  Who decides what democratically elected governments are bad and who has the authority to take them out?  The U.S.  Israel?  The U.N.?  Or perhaps some other authority?  International consensus, perhaps?

Further, is there a moral obligation to make sure the people of a country are not electing bad people or organizations?  Don’t forget, we’re not talking the Saddam Husseins of the world, who held sham elections for decades under the pretense of democracy.  The Palestinian elections were certified by international observers as quite legitimate, despite the bad choice I think the Palestinians made under the emotion of fear and/or hate (two emotions which are often evoked even in Western political campaigns).

I ask these questions because the West, and particularly the U.S., has been down this road before.  During the Cold War, we’d act to depose communist governments in favor of regimes which were capitalist, even though the replacements were often as bad or worse than the communists.  The rationale for doing this was often similar, that communism could not be allowed to spread or else people would suffer.  And communist governments routinely killed people, too.  Especially in the Soviet Union.

I think that there should definitely be license granted to make sure Hamas doesn’t try and make its goals a reality. I also suppose the right of Israel to defend itself.  But my question remains: do we have a moral obligation to take out what we consider bad governments, even when they’ve been legitimately elected by the people?

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