President Joe Biden responded to Hamas’s unprecedented slaughter of Jews with a clear and brief statement of support for Israel’s military response against Hamas. It was so brief that, after three minutes before the cameras, Biden took no questions and cleared off. The leader of the free world was not heard from in the next three days.
The failures of intelligence that allowed Hamas to prepare and commit mass murder were not just on Israel’s southern border or in its intelligence services. The United States’ intelligence services also seem to have missed the clues and chatter that would have suggested a major attack was coming. The head of Egyptian intelligence says he heard them, and that he passed it on to the Israelis too. But then, his life depends on doing his job well.
The deepest and most dangerous failure of American intelligence that has occurred is one of strategic vision. The Obama administration ditched its longstanding regional clients Israel, Egypt, Jordan and the Gulf Arab monarchies, and appointed Iran as its regional proxy. You only had to listen to the Iranians to understand the folly of licensing the nuclear ambitions of the world’s largest sponsor of terrorism.
You only had to listen to Democrats like John Kerry to understand that America’s ruling class had floated away from reality on a bubble of self-regard. Donald Trump burst that bubble by pointing out certain realities, and that is why the Democrats will never forgive him.
The Biden administration began as an Obama restoration, reversing all Trump policies as a matter of moral hygiene. Trump had closed the southern border, so Biden reopened it. Reality intruded, and last week Biden announced that he would “build that wall” after all.
Trump had torn up the Iran Deal and adopted “maximum pressure” on Iran. So Biden sent the nuclear negotiators back to Vienna and eased the pressure by reducing sanctions and freeing up billions of dollars in cash.
The negotiations failed. The chief negotiator, Robert Malley, is under investigation by the FBI for improper conduct. The money that went to Iran is fungible, and as the Iranians said, they would use it to fund terrorism.
Trump pushed for the Abraham Accords between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain, and he laid the ground for the ultimate normalisation, between Israel and Saudi Arabia. So Biden promised to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” and snubbed Benjamin Netanyahu.
As Biden’s State Department chased after Iran, his national security adviser Jake Sullivan refused to even say the words “Abraham Accords”. But then the Iran negotiations hit the buffers and the Ukraine war raised the price of oil. Biden begged Saudi leader Mohammed bin Salman to turn on the oil taps, and MbS refused.
Desperate for a win as an election year began, the administration then moved MbS and Bibi off the naughty step and suddenly declared it wanted to rush through normalisation, perhaps the most delicate move in Middle East diplomacy since the brief reunion of Jacob and Esau, in time for the November 2024 elections.
This is not the first time that American pressure for quick results on peace negotiations has blown up in the face of the Israeli public.
Nor is it the first time that America’s diplomats have blamed the victims. Antony Blinken, the hapless Secretary of State and, for what it’s worth, someone who always makes sure to mention his Jewish background, was pushing for a ceasefire even while Israeli troops were still fighting Hamas’s hostage-takers in Israeli kibbutzes and villages.
Reality has now reasserted itself in the most horrific manner imaginable. This crisis would be a domestic issue even if American citizens weren’t among the dead and abducted. Biden and the Democrats now face a Jimmy Carter-style humiliation abroad. Meanwhile, at home their mad-left Squad of Congress members demonise Israel, and the red-green alliance of the campus left and the Islamists celebrate Hamas killers in the street.
The Democrats’ embarrassment is entirely their own work, but the price will largely be paid in blood by everyone else -- first by Israelis, now by the Palestinians in Gaza, and next, the way things are going, by the Lebanese, the Syrians and anyone else within range.
“The Middle East region is quieter today than it has been in two decades,” Jake Sullivan announced two weeks ago. Where do they find these clowns?