Saturday, February 18, 2006

morality, practicality, and standards

Roundtable With Arab Print Journalists

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Washington, DC
February 17, 2006

Let me take this opportunity to say something about what we've just been through, because I'm reading a lot in the papers these days about how -- "Well, you know, you made this mistake, you thought democracy could take hold in the Middle East, you supported elections and what have you done? You've supported elections that brought to power Islamists or extremists or in the case of Hamas, a group that you consider a terrorist group. Aren't you sorry that you supported these democratic processes?"

Absolutely not. It was the only thing to do. It was -- first of all, from the point of view of the United States, the only moral thing to do. The idea that somehow, it is better for people to lack the means and the chance to express themselves, that it's better to support that and to, therefore, support dictatorship or oppression or authoritarianism where people don't have a voice -- it's, I think, morally reprehensible. People have to have a way to express themselves or, if they don't have a legitimate way to express themselves, they express themselves through extremism.


So, we have every desire to have Hamas make the right choice. It's just a practical matter that the United States cannot provide assistance to a terrorist organization or to a government that's not committed to peace. It's just a practical matter. And by the way, our assistance, with the exception of humanitarian assistance -- all over the world, we have criteria for who we will assist and who we will not. When a country is pursuing policies that are antithetical to American -- you know, to peace and security, American interests, it wouldn't make sense for us to assist those countries either. But in this case, we have a very specific problem, which is that Hamas is committed to the destruction of Israel and that's got to change in order for -- and they have to renounce violence in order for us to be able to deliver assistance.


And so, the international community has to stand firm for the principle that however you came to power by election, you have responsibilities and one of the responsibilities of democracy is that you cannot have one foot in terrorism and one foot in politics. And it has to be the international community that has to insist on that standard. Now, for anybody who gets into power through election we , that is the standard we have to insist upon. [The standard being if you are not "with us" then you are "against us"]


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