Former United States Foreign Service Officer Norman Olsen has blamed U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for misguided policies that he and his Gaza activist son say put Hamas in power.
Writing in the Christian Science Monitor, Olsen and his son Matthew also revealed that the U.S. State
Hamas never called for the elections that put them in power. That was the brainstorm of Secretary Rice and her staff.
Department is so deeply involved in the Palestinian Authority that it financed Fatah in its election campaign against Hamas.
The senior Olsen worked for the Foreign Office for 26 years, including four years in Gaza as a counselor for the American Embassy in Tel Aviv.
"Hamas never called for the elections that put them in power. That was the brainstorm of Secretary Rice and her staff," he and his son, who runs peace programs, wrote in the Monitor Monday morning.
Olsen maintained that Rice and her aides "had apparently decided they could steer Palestinians into supporting the more-compliant Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah faction through a marketing campaign that was to counter Hamas's growing popularity.'
Reflecting the traditional career diplomat view, he added that Rice's policy ignored "continued Israeli settlement construction, land confiscation, and cantonization [sic] of the West Bank [Judea and Samaria -ed.]."
The Olsen father and son team reported that their Fatah contacts in Gaza as well as Israelis are living in fear because of the current violence, "but it didn't have to be this way; we could have talked instead of fought."
The writers blamed the American-sponsored PA legislative election in 2006 for leading to the Hamas coup last year that resulted in the closure of Gaza crossings and a general economic collapse in Gaza.
They also revealed how deep the State Department is involved in political affairs in the Middle East. "State Department staffers helped finance and supervise the Fatah campaign, down to the choice of backdrop color for the podium where '[PA Chairman Mahmoud] Abbas was to proclaim victory," they wrote.
"An adviser working for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) explained to incredulous staffers at the Embassy in Tel Aviv how he would finance and direct elements of the campaign, leaving no U. S. fingerprints. USAID teams, meanwhile, struggled to implement projects for which Abbas could claim credit," the Olsens added.
The American strategy was to pave the way for Mohammed Dahlan, Fatah's strong man and "warlord" on Gaza, to destroy Hamas's terrorist brigades.
"Rice was reportedly blindsided when she heard the news of Hamas's victory during her 5:00 a.m. treadmill workout," the Olsens recalled.
From that point, everything went downhill, according to their analysis. "She immediately insisted that the Quartet [the U.S., European Union, United Nations, and Russia] ban all contact with Hamas and support Israel's economic blockade of Gaza…. The isolation was supposed to turn angry Palestinians against an ineffective Hamas."
As for Dahlan, who they said U.S. President George W. Bush considered "our guy," he "roamed Gaza, demanding protection money from businesses and individuals, erecting checkpoints to extort bribes, terrorizing Dahlan's opponents within Fatah, and attacking Hamas members.
"Finally, in mid-2007, faced with increasing chaos and the widely-known implementation of a U.S.-backed militia, Hamas – the lawfully elected government – struck first. They routed the Fatah gangs, securing control of the entire Gaza Strip, and established civil order. "
The Olsens also compared the failed American policy of trying to defeat Hamas with "Washington's Lebanese clients" who were supposed to turn on Hizbullah.
Their conclusion parallels the career State Department attitude that the Americans are the only ones who can put an end to the Arab-Israeli struggle and can do so by talking with Arabs on all issues, including the status of Jerusalem, as the right formula for peace.
They advised President-elect Barack Obama to name a "peace envoy" with authority over American missions in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and over American contacts with Israel and the PA.