Antony Blinken went to Israel this week with a message: The U.S. has lost its will. The destruction of Hamas is no longer a priority or, perhaps, even a goal at all of the Biden administration. Oh and by the way, Israel is running out of time.
With that, the secretary of state turned over the hourglass on U.S. support for Israel’s military operation in Gaza.
The first hint at a change in U.S. policy came when Blinken’s exchange with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant was leaked:
“Defense Minister Yoav Gallant: The entire Israeli society is united behind the goal of dismantling Hamas, even if it takes months.
“Blinken: I don’t think you have the credit for that.”
The end of this war may come when Israel achieves its objective of defeating Hamas, but the end of U.S. support for this war will come at a time of President Biden’s choosing.
More concerning was the fact that Blinken announced this change of policy robotically, repeatedly, as if someone had pushed the “Try Me” button on a talking action figure at a toy store.
“Israel has the right to do everything it can to ensure that the slaughter Hamas carried out on October 7 can never be repeated,” Blinken said in public remarks after his meetings with Israeli leaders. “Hamas cannot remain in control of Gaza. It cannot retain the capacity to repeat that carnage.”
The word you’re looking for is “eradicate.” Israel intends to eradicate Hamas. Biden knows that, has assented to it in the past. How would Hamas “retain the capacity” to do anything if it’s eradicated?
But Blinken, undaunted, made sure the new policy was clear.
In response to a question about civilian casualties, Blinken wouldn’t go into details but insisted Israel would still be able to ensure that Hamas “can’t represent the threat that it posed on October 7.” In response to a question about why the U.S. and Israel appear to have different timelines for the war, the secretary of state said the U.S. “will continue to support Israel’s efforts to do everything possible to ensure that Hamas cannot repeat the horrors of October 7. And that means, among other things, that Hamas cannot remain responsible for governance in Gaza and it cannot retain the capacity to repeat those attacks.” And in response to a question about the administration’s supposed plan to “revitalize” the Palestinian Authority, Blinken insisted that “what we need to see happen in Gaza [is] to make sure that there is governance that is different from what it has right now, which is Hamas.”
Message received! Blinken did allow for one moment of levity, however, when he made the laughable assertion that “How Israel does it, those are decisions for Israel to make.”
This was laughable because every word of the remarks that didn’t spew the preprogrammed ChatGPT lines about Hamas was dedicated to ruling out-of-bounds any Israeli tactic shy of hypnotizing Yahya Sinwar.
Blinked announced America’s intention to, after the pause in hostilities, “continue to surge humanitarian assistance to Palestinian civilians in Gaza,” which usually requires some pause in hostilities. Israel must, he said, “clearly and precisely” designate safe zones for Gazan civilians to be displaced to during battle, while also avoiding “enduring internal displacement.” It’s a riddle.
The U.S. expects Israel to avoid “damage to life-critical infrastructure, like hospitals,” while acknowledging that Hamas “embeds itself … within and below hospitals.” The IDF will figure it out; it’s “sophisticated,” says the secretary of state.
The obvious question here is: Who is the intended audience for this speech? A Biden reversal won’t placate the angry left, because they want him to stop the war entirely and they blame him for the fact that it’s going on at all. Throwing our ally under the bus—on a day when, it should be said, a Hamas terror attack in Jerusalem caused the deaths of four Israelis and its rockets breached the ceasefire agreement—will open him up to criticism that he is betraying his own repeatedly stated principles. And that criticism will be true.
The administration had a rare opportunity to disincentivize terrorism and the sponsorship of terrorism by setting boundaries and sanctioning the destruction of those who crossed them. It could have gotten its important Saudi diplomacy back on track. And it could have empowered the Palestinian governing faction that didn’t slaughter and rape its way through southern Israel at the expense of the faction that did. All it had to do was stand by our longtime loyal ally. Which was apparently too much to ask.