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Antony Antoniou – Reform UK Northampton North
Prospective Parliamentary Candidate
(PPC) 2024 General Election

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The West will soon pay for Biden's betrayal

The West will soon pay for Biden’s betrayal

The US President’s stubbornness is signalling to terrorists that barbarism will be rewarded

Our global adversaries – China, Russia, Iran and its proxies – must be marvelling at their good fortune as President Joe Biden effectively endorses a terrorist veto over Israel’s right to self-defence.

The President’s unprecedented open threat to withhold arms deliveries to Israel “if they go into Rafah”, and a State Department public report on Israeli conduct of the war, are self-inflicted wounds to a vital alliance. Israel has not yet publicly responded, but it faces critical choices over whether to proceed militarily in Rafah, or back down. Neither option is attractive given the potential consequences.

Biden’s stubbornness is wrong on many levels. First, close allies should always engage privately during wartime. Leaks undoubtedly occur, often intentionally, but preserving even minimal confidentiality is essential to later repairing damage done both at governmental and personal levels.

Piling on publicly in the middle of a war is imprudent, even juvenile, damaging the respect and trust allies must sustain during times of crisis and tension. The propaganda opportunities handed to hostile powers are immeasurable. And if Biden is prepared to cast loose one of America’s most valued partners, what does that foretell for those more distant, less favoured than Israel? How does Ukraine feel? Or Taiwan?

Second, Biden’s motives are not so high-minded as he may have us believe. This is no profile in courage. Domestically, the President is faring poorly in polls against Donald Trump, and defections to minor-party candidates could sink his re-election chances. In swing-state primaries like Michigan, large numbers of Democrats voted “uncommitted”, posing significant risks if they stay home in November. White House staffers have castigated themselves to regain key Democratic blocs but they have so far failed. Elizabeth Warren, asserting Israel may be liable for “genocide” in Gaza, exemplifies the problem.

Ironically, while politics dominates Biden’s calculations, his gambit may backfire. Republicans uniformly rejected his approach, as did significant numbers of Democrats. Biden’s threat reflects weakness, coming just weeks after his frantic efforts to pressure Israel not to retaliate strongly after Iran’s missile-and-drone attack.

The President’s supporters invoke Ronald Reagan’s withholding weapons when Israel struck Palestinians in Lebanon, but the two scenarios are entirely distinct. The US-Israel relation at that time was moral and historical, not strategic, as it is today. Indeed, Reagan later forged the Washington-Jerusalem strategic ties. Biden repeatedly pledged “ironclad support” for Israel after October 7, but subsequently swerved dramatically from that position.

Finally, and most importantly, the substance of Biden’s threat and the thoroughly unsatisfactory State Department report expose the administration as misguided and confused in ways that could haunt future US presidents.

Close-quarters combat in complex urban environments, let alone in Hamas’s extraordinary network of underground tunnels, is something Western militaries prefer to avoid. Not surprisingly, the State’s report is incoherent and contradictory, doubtless reflecting anti-Israel sentiment in many department bureaux, and schizophrenia within the Biden Administration’s political ranks. The report lacks specificity, yet incomplete information is hard to assess without adequate context – which is why a fair and accurate reckoning would be most fruitful after the war, not while combat still rages.

The fact that civilians are present in combat areas requires that Israel, or any combatant, determine they are striking only military targets and that civilian casualties are no more than proportional to the importance of such targets. In Rafah, the IDF is seeking to eliminate Hamas’s highest command-and-control hierarchies and its remaining organised military units, all clearly legitimate objectives.

It is unacceptable that Israel may be prevented from achieving its legitimate self-defence goals because the terrorists are so barbaric as to sacrifice their own civilian population to save themselves. If that is what Biden means by saying he objects to Israel entering Rafah, then he is simply endorsing the terrorist veto. Yet it is Hamas that is morally culpable for Gazan civilian deaths, not Israel.

We do not know what will unfold next, but the decisive choice now lies with Israel’s war cabinet. Biden’s ill-considered threat to cut the Jewish state loose will be at the centre of considerable debate. There is no debate, however, that Biden’s ploy will come back to haunt him, America, and all the West.

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