The current aggression seen today by Hamas against Israel is part of a long-standing conflict between Iran and Israel. Hamas is a tool in the Iranian terror toolbox; their political party fig leaf blew away years ago. Hamas is a lethal terrorist group, directed and supplied by Iran.
The blood of soldiers and citizens is the high price that Israel has paid for its relationship of trust with the United States––a price paid to the political enemies of Israel. Many of these political enemies are members of third-world countries who celebrate atop the corpses of their adversaries ––as well as many within our own borders, who celebrate death as a means to an end as opposed to a tragedy. The projection of unity of purpose, strategic alliance, and near-term and long-term deterrence depends on the perception of our relationships and the resolve and credibility of the partners. Today, the USG lacks resolve and credibility.
On March 19, 2021, the U.S. met with China in Anchorage, Alaska. This was Biden’s first major appearance on the world stage with China––on U.S. soil. Biden’s appearance was not just a disaster, but it was embarrassing for the U.S. Our global allies and enemies alike took away one thing from the meeting, that is, the U.S. acquiesced to the insulting conduct of the Chinese delegation. The Chinese delegation’s conduct was unanticipatedly rude, and the meeting ended without an appropriate or proportional response to the Chinese insult.
Why is this first foreign policy event and misstep for the Biden administration so important? The world was keenly interested in the China-USA meeting in Alaska to get an unfiltered, live look at the new administration on the international stage––a view which was tainted with a weak response to insulting action by one of the world’s superpowers. It is no secret that international relations are a carefully choreographed global dance before a world stage, and if one steps on their laces, their failure is exhibited on the world stage for all to draw a conclusion on their weak performance. Only this conclusion is not a mere chuckle from the crowd that can be resolved by a pat on the back––these conclusions have real consequences for people not involved in the meeting themselves.
Following the Alaska Summit, a conclusion from those that wish us ill (Iran, Russia, China), was that there is now a window of opportunity to seize the initiative on multiple fronts with the new U.S. administration. With the Alaska summit now in the backdrop, the Biden administration needs to lift its game. The global perception that China has compromised the Biden administration is a problem that will haunt this administration permanently. You cannot wash this stain off.
With the failed Alaska Summit in mind, the Biden team cannot afford a second misstep on the international scene, especially now during the delicate confrontation between Israel and Hamas. The Biden administration must tread carefully with the current confrontation between Israel and Hamas and instead view it prudently from a distance, as opposed to being actively involved, potentially straining relations with any of our foreign allies and weakening our stance on the international stage. Israel has a free hand to deal with Hamas and by extension, Iran at this time. The U.S. should stay out of the issue both politically and militarily and allow the Israelis to have a free hand to address Hamas and Iran solely in their strategic interest, without intervention from the U.S.
Concurrent with this idea, we can look at the Iran nuclear issue. The Iran nuclear issue looks completely different from Tel Aviv than it does from Washington. One cannot overstate the detrimental impact of the past 19 years from the USG’s failed policies in Iraq, Syria, Iran, and Afghanistan. Additionally, one must not forget the increased tension between Iran and the U.S. in the Persian Gulf, especially in light of the unspecified number of shooting incidents between U.S. warships and Iranian vessels over the past few weeks. The Biden administration simply does not have the credibility to throw weight in the international theater to influence events at this stage. In fact, if we look at the defunct nuclear deal from 2015, their pursuit of reviving it projects both weakness and confusion. The Iranian Nuclear agreement from 2015 has been overtaken by other events. Their attempt to breathe life back into a politically driven agreement from six years ago is a fool’s errand. It is important to note that the USG team under Biden is largely a re-hire of the same players from the Obama team. The optics of trying to revive this largely symbolic agreement from 6 years ago are bad, and the political capital needed to push this issue to completion is not worth the expenditure.
When framing the decisions required on the Israeli-Hamas conflict, the Biden team would be well served to wait quietly while the situation takes shape. The Iranians were effectively rolled back by the Trump administration’s bold attack on Quds Force Command’s General Qassem Sulaymani. That January 3, 2020 attack was a paradigm change for U.S.-Iran relations. Media commentary on the strike largely underplayed the profound impact and unrepairable damage done to the Iranian regime by that strike. No one disputed that each person killed in the strike were bad and dangerous operatives who sought nothing more than to harm our interests and the interests of the innocent. Make no mistake, that strike hurt Iran, badly, and rattled their leadership from the top down. The location of the strike, on “route Irish,” where many American service personnel were killed or maimed, was not lost on Iranian leaders.
An important aspect to consider of the current Israeli-Hamas conflict is the behind-the-scenes, historical links between Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the “state” of Palestine since January 2005 and Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. These two leaders attended the Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow, class of 1968. The communist roots of the leader of Iran and the PLO go very far back. Israel lives and thrives in one of the worst neighborhoods on the planet, but they understand the players and the entangled roots of the middle east. They also have worked hard with their Arab neighbors to find a path to peace and coexistence. The Abraham Accords are the latest example. The U.S. administration today avoids mentioning the Abraham Accords, an omission of which is insulting to both Israel and the Arab allied States that signed the accords. This administration likes the word “reset,” which, in the eyes of our adversaries, gives off the impression that we forget history every four years and start with fresh unicorns and rainbows. Israel does not have the luxury of facing only threats of errant computer code and vague, conjectural threats of foreign conflict. Israel faces bombs––to be precise, over 3,000 of them and counting, hurled towards their densely populated cities.
The Biden administration would be well advised to step back and look at what the previous administration did to advance U.S. foreign policy and national security goals and build on the successes that were made. The Abraham Accords should be nurtured and expanded to other nations. The Iranian government is a prolific supporter of terrorism and they are the primary destabilization regime in the middle east; Biden’s policies should reflect these two realities.
Armstrong Williams is manager / sole owner of Howard Stirk Holdings I & II Broadcast Television Stations and the 2016 Multicultural Media Broadcast Owner of the year.
www.armstrongwilliams.com | www.howardstirkholdings.com. Follow me on Twitter @arightside