US president Joe Biden is happy for Palestinians to die, but worries about war

Imperialism is a killing machine. But it also has weaknesses. As Israel and the United States lay waste to millions of lives, there are also fears among the ruling classes of detonating a global blowback against their system. The cruelty and the anxiety of the world’s ruling classes was summed up when US president Joe Biden was asked if he believes Hamas must be eliminated entirely.

Biden said. “Yes, I do. But there needs to be a Palestinian authority. There needs to be a path to a Palestinian state.” He does not mind if Palestinians are torn apart by Israeli missiles, bombs and bullets that the US has supplied. But he also wants some compliant Arab forces to calm the fury of the masses and make deals with imperialism.

Biden worries that the bloody war on Gaza may make the task impossible for these sell-outs. US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said last week it was critical that Israel “embrace the rule of law and the laws of war”. He added, “The protection of civilians and the protection of those people who are trying to get to safety, as well as their ability to access food, water, medicine, shelter, these things should be respected.”

Sullivan does not give a damn about the welfare of Palestinians. But, as the Financial Times newspaper comments, “There are fears that a new front risks being opened on Israel’s northern border with Hezbollah, the powerful Iran-backed Lebanese militant movement, as well as the dangers of an explosion of violence erupting in the occupied West Bank.”

The US supports mass murder yet urges some caution if it could lead to an explosion of anti-imperialist revolt. The Financial Times adds, “The calls for respect for international law are also in response to mounting fears about the impact of instability spreading into Egypt.” The US has been focused on humiliating Russia as part of its central focus—confrontation with China. 

As part of this it has pushed “normalisation” of relations between the Arab states and Israel, with the aim of isolating Iran. This policy, begun by Donald Trump in 2020, saw the Abraham Accords signed by the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. The Palestinians would be left in a state of colonial subjection, but with some vague promises about slightly less violence and inequality.

Biden followed this up with moves to “normalise” relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia. Now the US sees all that careful diplomacy thrown in the bin. Another consideration is the economic turmoil that Israel’s assaults may cause. Jamie Dimon, chief executive of the JP Morgan financial services firm, called this “the most dangerous time the world has seen in decades”.

Kristalina Georgieva, the head of the International Monetary Fund, warned of a “new cloud on not the sunniest horizon for the global economy”. None of this means a let-up in US military plans. It is readying for the possibility of a broader war. Last weekend defence secretary Lloyd Austin announced the US would double its military deployment in the Middle East.

It’s sending the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower carrier strike group to the Eastern Mediterranean to support Israel. This “includes the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea, guided-missile destroyers USS Gravely and USS Mason, and Carrier Air Wing 3, with nine aircraft squadrons.” The US sent over 15,000 military personnel to the Middle East in the space of just seven days. 

But they face another super-power—the millions who have already protested in solidarity with the Palestinians and the millions more who may join them. The revulsion at the horror in Gaza could combine with the rage over hunger, inequality and undemocratic rule. It may be the trigger that brings down rage on the dictators and the rich. 

A war on Gaza could set off a new revolution in Egypt, unseat the rulers of Jordan or drive towards global recession. If that happens, the US will regret the actions of its Israeli watchdog in the Middle East.

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