We see how amateurish is what Jim aptly calls “amateur hour” by undoing the revisionist history served up by the Guardian (see K-Lo’s post). The principle of “isolating Hamas” is not “George Bush’s doctrine.” It is the longstanding policy of the United States.
Hamas (whose history I recounted in broad strokes here – and the Treasury Dept provides more here) was first designated as a terrorist organization in January 1995 in an executive order by President Clinton. That order, issued pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (among other statutes), made it a crime for anyone within U.S. jurisdiction to transact business with, or provide material support to, Hamas and several other international terrorist groups. The Clinton administration followed this up in 1997 by formally branding Hamas and its operatives ”specially designated global terrorists.” That made it a felony to provide Hamas with material support (the material support crime having been prescribed for the first time by Congress in the 1996 overhaul of federal antiterrorism law).
True, after 9/11 President Bush did expand the number of terrorist organizations to whom such sanctions applied. But the ones making Hamas a pariah had already been in place for six years.
If incoming Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leads a walk away from this policy — or, from Hamas’s standpoint, caves on it after thousands of missiles have provoked a war – she will be walking away from her husband’s policy and a lot of Clinton-era heavy breathing about how terrible Hamas is.
A potential silver lining: While such bloviators as Rashid Khalidi (see yesterday’s NYTimes op-ed) may have Obama’s ear, Hillary’s advisors reportedly include such thoughtful adults as Ken Pollack, whose new book, A Path Out of the Desert, is a good barometer of what smart, security-minded liberals are thinking, and is well worth reading. I don’t buy Pollack’s “there are good Islamists and bad Islamists” view, but, regardless, he continues to place Hamas decidedly in the bad Islamist category. That is where the Clinton administration was, and it is hopefully where the new Secretary of State is. But we’ll have to see.