Pro-Gaza demonstration at Columbia University, New York City
A great deal of water has spilled over the dam since I wrote about Israel’s existential struggle against Hamas following the latter’s blood-curdling attack on October 7.
Because it is a truism that silence in the face of developments you dislike amounts to complicity, today I refuse to be silent. Even if it costs me a few friendships.
I am deeply concerned about several things, all more or less closely related both to Israel’s struggle and to continuing American leadership of the Free World:
- President Biden’s none too subtle efforts to hobble Israel in its struggle to end the terrorist threat to its people — efforts that contradict his declared (but I believe far from rock-solid) support for Israel
- Biden’s longstanding and continuing hesitation to provide Ukraine the weapons it desperately needs to defeat Russia’s unprovoked invasion and liberate all of its internationally recognized territory — a hesitation that is at odds with his declared (but I believe far from rock-solid) support for Ukraine
- President Biden’s squishy — to say the least — attitude toward the mullahs’ regime in Iran, which is the heart of the existential threat that Israel faces, as well as a critical source of arms for Russia’s continuing terroristic bombardment of hospitals, apartment buildings, markets and a host of other civilian targets in Ukraine
Following are the reasons why I believe President Biden’s policies fall short of what our country’s actions — not just words — should be at a time of two crises affecting America’s leadership of the West (i.e., the Free World) and while a third crisis (China-Taiwan) is growing ever more imminent.
- Israel-Hamas: While the president has repeatedly voiced his full support for Israel’s effort to defeat Hamas — i.e., to annihilate it and make impossible a repeat of its sickening October 7 rampage — it took very little time for him, Secretary of State Blinken and other key administration figures to begin demanding (1) that Israel allow deliveries of food, water, fuel and medical supplies into Gaza, materials which could only strengthen the Hamas terrorists and increase deaths among the Israeli troops seeking to root them out; (2) that Israel “pause” its fight against Hamas, which gave Hamas breathing room to strengthen its defenses; and (3) that Israel abide by the internationally accepted rules of warfare (which Hamas consistently and flagrantly violates) and refrain from targeting innocent civilians — a ridiculous demand in light of the fact that Israel’s armed forces (the IDF) have long been widely recognized for going far beyond routine measures to avoid harming civilians (what the IDF calls “purity of arms” and about which retired British combat veteran Col. Richard Kemp has written, “the IDF does more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.”)Moreover, the demand that Israel treat Gaza civilians with kid gloves flies in the face of reality. Did the U.S. make any effort to spare civilians as we attempted to bomb Germany and Japan into submission and destroy their capacity to continue fighting during World War II? Of course not. Nor should we have. Most of those civilians — particularly in Germany — enthusiastically supported their countries’ war of aggression and genocide against innocent neighboring countries. Just as most Palestinians, in poll after opinion poll, support the destruction of Israel. That Israel nevertheless goes to great lengths to avoid casualties among Gaza’s civilian population — without needing the Biden administration’s condescending push — reflects its instinct to fight justly and avoid following the amoral (not to say immoral) example of its enemy.
- Ukraine: While the president has repeatedly voiced his support for Ukraine’s effort to defend itself from Russia’s aggression, neither has he committed himself to assuring Ukraine’s victory in this fight for its very existence as an independent country, nor has he shown himself — except, sometimes, too little and too late — ready to supply Ukraine with the weapons it needs for victory, especially up-to-date aircraft (F-16s) and long-range precision missiles (ATACMS). While we and our NATO allies have provided several other weapons systems (notably Abrams tanks, which we sent only after interminable delay and hand-wringing and then in pitifully small numbers), Biden has been consistent in delaying and only slowly and reluctantly dribbling out such essential assistance. Ukraine could not have launched its summer counteroffensive — now apparently stalemated — against Russia’s well-dug-in defenses without the relatively meager supply of modern tanks and other weaponry we and our European allies did eventually provide them, but I have heard many retired American generals say they would never have undertaken such a counteroffensive themselves (with American troops) without the air cover that Biden so long resisted providing (and which has yet to be delivered).
- Iran: Every analysis I have read or heard about the current turmoil in the Mideast puts the mullahs’ regime in Iran squarely in the role of Chief Troublemaker. To name a few of its troublemaking efforts: arming terrorist organizations (Hamas, Hezbollah — the Party of God! — and Yemen’s Houthi); supporting (with Russia’s indispensable help) the murderous Assad regime, which has mercilessly barrel-bombed and otherwise slaughtered over half a million of its own citizens for having had the temerity to protest against his ruthless dictatorship; providing Russia with many of the drones and ballistic missiles that Putin uses to murder and terrorize hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian civilians; and — most frightening of all — relentlessly pursuing a quest to develop the nuclear weapons with which it can be expected to fulfill its promise to “wipe Israel off the map.” These sins of the mullahs’ regime are paralleled by its ruthless suppression of internal dissent, which includes not only the beatings and killings by the regime’s thugs (the Basij) and “morality police,” who punish women who refuse to cover their hair in public, but the jailing of thousands and the hanging, so far in 2023, of over 500 people.The problem I see with the Biden administration’s policy toward Iran is that it has indefatigably pursued a revival of President Obama’s foolish deal (the JCPOA) that supposedly postponed the completion of Iran’s efforts to develop nukes for several years, leaving the regime’s path to nuclear weapons wide open after 2030. At this point, after former president Trump withdrew from the JCPOA, Iran is widely understood to be just weeks from the point when it can produce one or more nukes, having a stockpile of uranium enriched to over 60% (as opposed to the 3.67% allowed under the JCPOA). Biden’s (until recently) Iran point man, Rob Malley, has been chummy with the Iranians and, according to this account, has been “implementing [the administration’s] preferred policy.” I consider such a policy to be idiotic, as it would permit one of America’s three most dangerous enemies (in what many have called a new Axis of Evil — Russia, Communist China and Iran) to have free access to nuclear weapons that it would use either to obliterate Israel or, at the least, to intimidate nations across the Mideast and even Europe.I cannot understand what Biden is thinking. Perhaps the approaching senility some consider him to be dealing with is the answer, but I see him talking one way yet acting another in regard both to Israel-Hamas (backing Israel rhetorically while making unhelpful demands of it at the same time) and to Ukraine-Russia (backing Ukraine rhetorically but “slow-walking” the weapons it needs to win the war). And I see his Iran policy as equally misbegotten — trying to engage with the mullahs on nukes despite the regime’s sponsorship of Hamas, Hezbollah and the Houthis and its outrageous support of Putin’s wanton bombardment — bloody murder, just like the Hamas savages — of Ukrainian civilians.
An explanation of Biden’s thinking might lie in an article I read a few days ago, which attributes his stubborn wish to run for a second term to a simple desire to gratify his ego. And recent polling indicates that disaffected Muslim-American voters in swing states like Michigan, who oppose his stated support for Israel’s fight, might wind up defeating him. (If attributing Biden’s running for reelection to his ego emits a whiff of one of Donald Trump’s prime motivations, I wish to make it clear that there is no way on earth I could ever support a man who incited the January 6, 2021, mob attack on the U.S. Capitol in an effort to overturn the outcome of the 2020 election and who subsequently stole and refused to return to the government many highly classified documents, among numerous other sins and disqualifying character flaws.)
- China-Taiwan: This is an area that I am less familiar with than the two above, but from everything I read and hear, it seems that China needs to be deterred from invading (i.e., forcibly “reunifying” with) Taiwan — a country whose thriving democracy makes it a natural friend of the U.S. and, by the same token, a clear target for China’s despotic regime — in perhaps as little as a year or two. Such deterrence is not helped by (1) the weakness we display in failing to make good our declared support for Israel and Ukraine, especially following the debacle of Biden’s abrupt flight from Afghanistan, and (2) the enormous reduction in the capacity of American industry to produce the munitions that are and will be needed to resupply Israel and Ukraine in their existential struggles as well as the thinning out of our navy (see graph in this link), which is essential to the deterrence of a Chinese fleet whose growth and power have been mushrooming.
The conclusions I have reached regarding the crisis areas discussed above are strongly influenced by the thinking of several well-informed people whose writings and podcasts/videos I follow. I enthusiastically commend them to any readers who wish to learn more.
- The eminent historian and commentator Niall Ferguson
- Historian — and expert on the USSR and Communist regimes in China and elsewhere — Stephen Kotkin
- Military expert (with tremendous insights on Ukraine) Gen. (Ret.) Ben Hodges
- Journalist — and force of nature — Bari Weiss, a former columnist and opinion editor at the New York Times(scorching resignation letter here), founder of The Free Press, “a new media company built on the ideas that were once the bedrock of American journalism” and a cofounder of the University of Austin, which seeks, among other things, “to prepare students to be responsible, active and informed citizens in a liberal, democratic polity.”
I turn, finally, to a question posed in a recent podcast: How is it possible that so many young people, Millennials and especially Gen Z, have proven susceptible to the kind of nihilistic ideas and attitudes that have brought them into the street (and media and corporate boardrooms) in support of the slaughter and kidnapping perpetrated by Hamas against innocent Israeli men, women, children and seniors?
My response: The majority of the professors who now dominate the faculties of America’s formerly great universities — Yale (my alma mater), Harvard (where I earned a master’s degree), Columbia, Princeton, Penn, Stanford, Berkeley, etc. — as well as teachers in many high schools have been students of countless members of my own “Vietnam generation.” A great many in this population cohort sought to justify their opposition to being drafted to fight in Vietnam by disparaging U.S. foreign policy (and history as it was formerly taught) and the anti-Communism on which it was quite appropriately based. Over the past generation or two these people have come to control our schools, universities and the media, infecting Millennials and Gen Z with attitudes that have since morphed into today’s “woke” progressivism and anti-colonialism, which have caused them to lose the moral compass their parents and grandparents lived by but failed to pass on.
The pro-Gaza infection (and you can be sure, the woke infection too) has also spread into the ranks of government
The woke progressive/anti-colonialism infection of so many among the Millennials and Gen Z is one of the greatest tragedies of my time on earth, and I am not confident we will ever escape its awful consequences.