February 10, 2006

Power Purifies Itself

My father always used to quote someone or other and say "Money purifies itself." His example was New York University, his alma mater, which when first offered money by the daughter of the financier Jay Gould, turned it down because of Gould's unsavory reputation.

A few years later, the University not only took the money, but also named a professorship after Gould.

Power is similar. When Hamas first won the elections in Palestine, cries abounded that no nation would have any truck with the Palestinian government unless Hamas recognized Israel and renounced terrorism. Except for hinting around, Hamas has done none of that, and yet has already garnered an invitation to Moscow.

Proclaimed principles erode quickly even in the face of power as limited as Hamas now has and is about to gain. The nations will find a way to do business with Hamas, and the subsidies will not stop. Power, like money, purifies itself.

Attention to proclaimed principles, in my opinion, goes only so far, anyway. Behavior is more important. Stalin's 1936 Constitution read like a very idealistic document, but that didn't stop the purges or free prisoners from the Gulag. Arafat's recognition of Israel was belied by repeated acts of violence (deniable though they were).

Governments will maintain diplomatic relations even with cannibals.

After meeting with the mass murderer Mao Tse-Tung, Field Marshal Montgomery, by then a Viscount, allowed as how Mao was the sort of fellow one goes into the jungle with.

Why should Hamas be an exception? After all, supposedly, unlike Fatah, they don't steal.

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