The Biden administration is becoming increasingly edgy about the crisis in Gaza and what the objectives are for the Netanyahu war camp. Most of all, its worried that it is being carefully coaxed into a war between Israel and Iran which even the hapless U.S. president knows is not somewhere he wants to go, regardless of how far he is away from his re-election campaign. Netanyahu, for his part, is not even sure himself if he actually wants to launch a ground offensive and a number of top analysts are even predicting that he even won’t go ahead with it, given what’s at stake and the history of such initiatives in the past. Politically, he is not at all in a good place right now and the attack on October 7th in many ways, while buying him time in office and allowing him freedom from corruption investigations, is a double-edged sword which will dismember him when Israelis’ patience runs out. Most blame him for the attacks and kidnappings in the first place so he has a limited amount of political bandwidth to work with.
His strategy seems to be more about playing it cool and letting time take its toll. Even though he doesn’t have too much time himself, Biden has much less. The stranglehold that Netanyahu has on Biden tightens each day, when it is clear that Biden doesn’t have the patent ability to invoke a ceasefire and do what most U.S. presidents should do: behave like a superpower. This, apparently will have to be left to the two real superpowers who tend to do more and talk less: China and Russia. For the moment both Biden and Netanyahu are both waiting for a miracle to happen which allows for a ceasefire to happen without Netanyahu losing face. Biden could simply insist that Netanyahu stops the campaign and then at least Bibi could say to the world “this is what the U.S. has asked us to do”. But even in this setup, there would be a price to pay for Biden and his administration elsewhere.
As more and more Iranian militias build up on the Syrian-Israel border and the narrative heats up between Hezbollah and Israel, everyone in fact is looking for a stroke of luck to throw the entire gruesome slaughter out of sync. Biden could do this. He could be bold and courageous and show real élan on the world stage. But that’s just not what he does. Despite being an old school neocon and being a huge advocate for NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, these days he has lost his mojo. He simply doesn’t know what he wants with Israel, a country which he always professed to being a great supporter of, but whose present administration is not where Biden wants U.S. foreign policy to be.
Many experts question what actually is at the heart of the U.S.-Israel relationship and the 3bn dollars it hands to Israel each year in military aid? For a long time, it was the special relationship that Israel cherished while it, Israel, acted on behalf of the U.S. in the region and was there just in case Arab countries lost their way in their token allegiance to U.S. hegemony. At the very least it was an outpost.
Ironically, it was Trump who briefly upped the stakes and made the relationship more relevant when he introduced the Abraham Accords which forged a stronger bond between Israel and the Arab world – that very ‘normalisation’ which was about to take in more partners, just days before October 7th.
And so, Biden’s legacy, given his present craven moves, will be one of putting the clock back and making Israel even more isolated, especially given that the Gaza slaughter is actually galvanizing Arab support for Palestine from key players like MbS in Saudi Arabia, who in the longer term, may well surreptitiously support Hamas, along with Iran. Even from a geopolitical perspective, Biden is taking on the whole Arab world with his moronic handling of the Gaza slaughter, which wants a ceasefire and in years previous, would expect the U.S. to play its role of sole superpower. Those days those are long gone.
In the meantime, Biden has a new problem at home which won’t go away. He’s lost the Muslim vote. Many might argue that this is not as bad as it seems as he might have gained even more from the Israel camp. Not at all. A lot of Jews in America are prolifically disappointed that he has done really nothing more than stand on the touch line and shout words of support to Israel from a distance. How much longer this can continue is really the question. He has relied heavily so far on U.S. media doing its duty and spewing out as much fake news as it can, working practically as a PR tool for Israel and presenting all the facts around the erroneous narrative of “Israel has a right to defend itself” without adding to that “at any costs, even breaking all international laws as the West won’t hold them to account as Palestinians aren’t actually human beings”.
Yet this game has its limitations as many in the west are more than used to international news via Atlanta being faked. The headless babies which don’t exist or the Gaza hospital which the Israelis even warned they would bomb, which we are supposed to swallow was blown up by the Palestinians themselves – with some fake audio which the IDF knocked up to help journalists with their call centre journalism.
The reality is that the U.S. media is losing the media war and that millions of regular people around the world are watching social media only from Palestinians on the ground getting footage out, while no western journalists would dare set foot in Gaza itself. But hang on a second. Shouldn’t we be very wary of the line from the West that it’s just too dangerous for our journalists to go it? Isn’t that just a tad too convenient for the IDF to slur the Palestinian journalists who report there for western titles? Wait for the new story on CNN or Washington Post soon how Hamas is feeding these Palestinian journalists with fake news and that Gaza is so backward etc that it never could be expected to have any real objective media. You know the sort of thing.
The author is an award winning journalist based in Morocco, working for a number of international titles while also the editor in chief of both Levantis.me and Maghrebi.org. He can be followed on twitter at @MartinRJay This article was originally published by Strategic Culture Foundation.