For Whom Do Biden and Blinken

american conservative

by James W. Carden

    Long after the current administration passes from the scene, President Joseph R. Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken will be remembered not for their bumbling, embarrassing encounters with the Chinese, nor for their steadfast refusal to negotiate a peaceful settlement with the Russians, which set off a disastrous war that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.

    Instead, they will likely be remembered as the abettors of Israel’s transformation of Gaza into an abattoir, and will leave a legacy as bloodstained as Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger’s.

    But, to be fair, Nixon and Kissinger knew which country was theirs; they understood that the United States and Israel have distinct and vastly different interests. Indeed, it is little remembered today that as Secretary of State, Kissinger once ordered a reassessment of this so-called “special relationship.”

    Lacking the sheen of Kissinger’s not inconsiderable wit and intellect, Tony Blinken, a protege of Marty Peretz, erstwhile publisher of the New Republic and an ideological Zionist, may one day be remembered as his generation’s Robert McNamara: a bland bureaucrat carrying out the obscene orders of his commander-in-chief.

    As if more were needed to bolster such a judgment, this week, after acknowledging that five Israeli military units had engaged in gross human rights abuses, the Biden administration signaled it will not apply the Leahy Law—which prohibits aid to militaries that have committed human rights abuses—to Israel. It would be hard to improve upon the following headline from the Hill: “US finds Israeli military units violated human rights; withholds consequences.”

    In an incredible performance this Monday at Foggy Bottom, the State Department spokesman Vedant Patel (yet another foreign-born bureaucrat who clearly knows little about the country he is paid to represent) ran cover for the Israelis once again, claiming that the IDF was now in line with Leahy and all is well.

    Yet, given Israel’s widespread, heavily documented crimes, including the deployment of AI systems such as Lavender AI systematically to terrorize the Palestinian population, the application of Leahy would seem a mere slap on the wrist. Yet Blinken and Biden have deemed even symbolic measures of disapproval of Israel’s rampage as too great a burden on Tel Aviv.

    If Blinken and Biden were serious about stopping the carnage, they could have applied section 6201 of the Foreign Assistance Act, which prohibits security assistance to countries blocking humanitarian aid. In late March, a group of Democratic senators and congressmen called on the administration to do just that, writing, in a letter to the President,

    Federal law is clear, and, given the urgency of the crisis in Gaza, and the repeated refusal of Prime Minister Netanyahu to address U.S. concerns on this issue, immediate action is necessary to secure a change in policy by his government.

    If Biden and Blinken were serious, they would have applied Leahy and enforced the terms of the Arms Control Export Act, the U.S. War Crimes Act and the Genocide Convention Implementation Act; if they were serious, they would have supported South Africa’s case against Israel in the International Court of Justice; if they were serious, they would not have instructed UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield repeatedly to veto measures in the UN Security Council calling for a ceasefire; if they were serious, they would call for the International Criminal Court to issue arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and others.

    But they are not serious.

    And yet, even now, over 90 attorneys within the Biden administration are drafting a letter to the cowardly Attorney General Merrick Garland calling for a halt on military aid to Israel. According to a report in POLITICO on Monday, the lawyers contend that “Israel likely violated U.S. statutes including the Arms Export Control Act and Leahy Laws as well as the Geneva Conventions prohibiting disproportionate attacks on civilian populations.”

    What will come of it?

    Not a thing. Because Biden and Blinken act not as American statesmen, beholden to American laws in the furtherance of American interests—but rather, as adjunct members of the Israeli war cabinet.

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