President Biden’s Biggest Blunder

In announcing that the United States will pause delivery of 3,500 bombs to Israel, President Biden has the laudable motive of wanting to spare innocent Palestinians from the military consequences of Hamas using Rafah as its last stronghold in Gaza. Less laudably, but no less understandably, he also needs to shore up support among progressive voters who think that Israel’s use of American weapons implicates us in war crimes.

But motives are not results. And the consequences of Biden’s decision, if not soon reversed, will be the opposite of what he intends. How so? Let me count the ways.

The munitions cutoff helps Hamas.

The tragedy in Gaza is fundamentally the result of Hamas’s decisions: to start the war in the most brutal way possible; to fight it behind and beneath civilians; to attack the border crossings through which humanitarian aid is delivered; and to hold on cruelly to Israel’s 132 remaining hostages, living or dead. Whatever else the arms cutoff might accomplish when it comes to Israel, it is both a propaganda coup and a tactical victory for Hamas that validates its decision to treat its own people as human shields. And it emboldens Hamas to continue playing for time — especially in the hostage negotiations — with the idea that the longer it holds out, the likelier it is to survive.

It doesn’t end the war. It prolongs it.

No Israeli government, even one led by someone more moderate than Benjamin Netanyahu, is going to leave Gaza with Hamas still in control of any part of theterritory. If the Biden administration has ideas about how to do that without dislodging it from Rafah, we have yet to hear of them.

That means that, one way or the other, Israel is going in, if not with bombs — and the administration is also considering barring precision-guidance kits — then with far-less accurate 120-millimeter tank shells and 5.56-millimeter bullets. Other than putting Israeli troops at greater risk, does the Biden administration really think the toll for Palestinians will be less after weeks or months of house-to-house combat?

It diminishes Israel’s deterrent power and is a recipe for a wider war.

One of the reasons Israel isn’t yet fighting a full-blown war to its north is that Hezbollah has so far been deterred from a full-scale attack, not least from fears of having its arsenal of an estimated 150,000 rockets and missiles decimated by the Israeli Air Force. But what if the Lebanese terrorist group looks at reports of Israeli munitions’ shortages and decides that now would be an opportune time to strike?

Back to top button