Commentary on Political Economy

Thursday 4 April 2024



Biden Exploits a Tragic Israeli Mistake


We say “try” because many people who know better, including President Biden, seem to have forgotten that errors are a tragic and inevitable part of war. The President pandered to the anti-Israel faction in his party on Tuesday by harshly condemning Israel, lecturing it and then blaming it (not Hamas) for the larger humanitarian disaster in Gaza.

That apparently wasn’t enough. Egged on by the emerging anti-Israel liberal media consensus, Mr. Biden called on Thursday for an “immediate cease-fire” and urged Israel to make new concessions in hostage negotiations. The President then threatened, as Secretary of State Antony Blinken put it, that “if we don’t see the changes we need to see” from Israel, “there will be a change in our policy.”

This is Biden Administration opportunism, using the World Central Kitchen tragedy to push Israel to cut short the war and let Hamas survive. It’s also the worst thing the President could do to free the hostages.


The message Hamas will take away is clear: Keep rejecting hostage deals, do whatever you can to worsen the humanitarian catastrophe, and watch Mr. Biden blame and pressure Israel to compromise on its war aims. After Oct. 7, the U.S. demanded that Hamas release the hostages “unconditionally.” It is now closer to demanding that Israel unconditionally stop fighting.

Mr. Biden also seems to have forgotten his own mistaken missile strike. When the President’s Irish goodbye from Afghanistan was spoiled by a suicide bombing that killed 13 U.S. troops, he ordered retaliation against ISIS-K. On Aug. 29, 2021, a U.S. Hellfire missile struck a car at a family home in Kabul in what Gen. Mark Milley called a “righteous strike.”

It turned out the strike killed 10 civilians, including seven children. But the Biden Administration wasn’t quick to apologize. “Almost everything senior defense officials asserted in the hours, days and weeks after it turned out to be false,” the


The explosives supposedly in the targeted car’s trunk were probably water bottles. The driver, an aid worker, had no ISIS ties. It took weeks for the Pentagon to own up to what it called a “tragic mistake.”


The fog of war is real, and for Mr. Biden this and other U.S. strikes were mistakes. But he now holds Israel to a different standard.

The President’s statements on the Israeli strike have moved from “outrage” to recrimination: “This is a major reason why distributing humanitarian aid in Gaza has been so difficult—because Israel has not done enough to protect aid workers.” Left out is a critical word about Hamas, which started this war, steals aid, and murders Palestinians who facilitate aid.

Rather than hold Hamas accountable and demand at every opportunity that it release the hostages, including five Americans, Mr. Biden places the full burden on Israel. He puts Israel on trial each day from Washington lecterns, undermining support for its war effort.

Mr. Biden has mostly resisted pressure from his left to cut off Israel and deny it the weapons it needs to defeat Hamas. But in the wake of this tragic Israeli mistake, and while Israel goes on high alert for an Iranian attack, he threatens to reverse even that support.

If he does so, he will send the wrong message to our friends and especially our enemies in the Middle East. He may also pay a bigger political price at home than he realizes.

Wonder Land: Joe Biden and Donald Trump know the details of the nation’s security threat. Does either have a plan to meet it? Images: AP/Reuters Composite: Mark Kelly


Copyright ©2024 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

Appeared in the April 5, 2024, print edition as 'Biden Exploits a Tragic Israeli Mistake'.

No comments:

Post a Comment