We should be alarmed: the US’s support is rapidly eroding in part thanks to Iran’s propaganda efforts
US secretary of state Antony Blinken’s trip this week to Israel, Jordan and other key players in the region vividly demonstrates the dangerous misconceptions underlying America’s Middle East policy. Blinken’s visit also shows how rapidly Joe Biden’s superficially strong support for Israel is eroding. The Israel Defense Forces are now racing against time before he wilts under domestic and international pressure, and the West’s collective enemies exploit his flawed world view.
Why, a month after one of this century’s worst acts of barbarism, are the perpetrators and their puppet-masters moving ever closer to skating free?
First, before and after the October 7 massacres, Iran, Hamas and others masterfully deployed their information-warfare campaigns, asymmetrically attacking Israel’s very legitimacy. Jerusalem was initially unprepared, slow in responding, and still faces inhibitions – such as a need to tell the truth – that Hamas and its allies don’t share. The anti-Israel campaign’s target is not “the Arab street”, but Western decision-makers. Indeed, across the Middle East, most cities are quiet, almost business-as-usual.
But in America and Britain, pro-Palestinian demonstrators jam the streets, denouncing alleged Israeli war crimes, and explaining away, or even justifying, Hamas’s invasion. The aim is to exploit Western weakness and lack of resolution. It seems to be working. In the UK, Labour is badly split, and in Washington, Biden faces intense pressure from the “progressive” Left. Keir Starmer sees his longed-for premiership dissolving before his eyes, and Biden worries his party’s extremists could cost him victory next November. They may both be correct.
Secondly, neither Washington nor London have articulated the larger strategic context of the Hamas attack, namely the fanatical religious and hegemonic aspirations of Tehran’s mullahs. Not doing so inevitably shields Iran and its proxies and impairs Israel’s inherent right to self-defence. Failing to see the real effective mastermind precludes addressing the full enormity of the risks Israel and its allies face – not just terrorist attacks, but straight up the escalation ladder to Iran’s nuclear weapons. Israelis get this, which is why former Mossad director Yossi Cohen urges hunting down every Iranian involved in the October 7 attacks.
Hamas did not wake up one fine day and decide by itself to attack Israel. Along with Hezbollah, Yemen’s Houthi rebels, Iraqi Shia militia, and many others, Hamas is a beneficiary of Iranian weapons, training, and finance. Its sneak attack has to be seen as part of Tehran’s larger strategy. Taken by surprise, Jerusalem is still struggling to grasp comprehensively Iran’s plan. Tehran’s surrogates are concealing their hand, but Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s recent speech shows their menace and resolve to break the will of Israel and its supporters by threatening wider regional war.
The Iran-Russia axis is also becoming clearer, with ominous reports that the Wagner Group will provide air defences to Hezbollah. Moscow has also criticised Israeli air strikes in Syria for violating international law, reversing long-standing acceptance of such operations. Russia and China, meanwhile, are supporting Hamas with propaganda and disinformation – a significant political signal.
Thirdly, through strategic failures of imagination and inadequate explanations of the full threats Israel faces from Iran, Britain and America risk losing the overall diplomatic battle. Blinken’s trip was to advocate for a “pause” in hostilities to allow more humanitarian aid to enter Gaza. Others are calling for a full “ceasefire”. There is no meaningful distinction between these verbal formulations. A former US Senate staffer revealed the game by writing that halting the hostilities “that begins as a temporary measure, but which could be extended, is vitally necessary”.
Moreover, while the fate of the hostages Hamas kidnapped is important, and rightly a priority for Israel and others, it is not this conflict’s true centrepiece. Governments have moral obligations to protect their citizens, and Hamas’s taking of hostages will inscribe the full picture of the group’s inhumanity into history.
Nonetheless, a government’s moral obligations extend to the whole nation, which Israel sees today as existentially threatened. Benjamin Netanyahu correctly emphasises that it is precisely military pressure that will produce more hostage releases, not gestures of goodwill, which Iran and its terrorist surrogates disdain. But if they persuade guileless Westerners that the stakes are only humanitarian issues in Gaza, they are more likely to prevail in arguing that Israel bears responsibility for the war continuing.
Netanyahu rejected Blinken’s démarche because Israel is literally in hand-to-hand combat against Hamas, but this is only the start of the propaganda campaign. When Biden calls for Israel to “pause” and sends Blinken to plead his case in Jerusalem, we should be alarmed. Israel has the resolve to continue, but its fate may lie in Washington and London. That is not good news.
This article was first published in The Telegraph on November 7, 2023. Click here to read the original article.