The mass terror attacks on October 7th by Hamas against Israeli citizens is a milestone of heinous savagery––the beheading of some of 40 murdered babies, the slaughter of 1300 Israelis and 27 Americans, as well as the usual indiscriminate butchering, rape, torture, grisly videos flaunting the dead, and hostages taken to brutalize and hold for ransom. None of this is new, but the scale of the attack and the atrocities mark a dangerous escalation.
One contributing cause of this mayhem is the feckless, if not lunatic, foreign policy blunders of the Biden administration. But the last 75 years of Western foreign policy and its idealizing illusions, along with sacrifices of Israel’s security to Western national interests, have been predicates for this mass savagery.
There’s no question that actions both taken and avoided by Biden’s puppeteers enabled the terrorists and their patron and financier Iran. Our willful blindness about the Iranian Revolution and the mullahs’ religious motives reached its post-Cold War apogee in the Munich-class appeasement of Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons via the Iran nuclear deal signed by Barack Obama.
Donald Trump wisely ended our participation in this dangerous “parchment barrier.” He increased sanctions on Iranian oil sales, imposed “maximum pressure” on its economy, and took out one of Iran’s most effective and dangerous terrorist bosses, Qassem al Soleimani, despite our foreign policy clerks who issued dire warnings of apocalypse in the region.
Yet for Israel, disaster didn’t happen on Trump’s watch, but on Biden’s. Biden transferred billions of dollars to Iran, and relaxed sanctions on oil sales, allowing the regime to generate $80 billion more from oil exports. He squandered our country’s prestige on groveling outreach to lure Iran back to the nuclear deal, even though the regime has serially violated its terms from the start, in addition to attacking Americans 83 times––with a U.S. military response to only four.
As a result of Biden’s cringing solicitude, Iran now has enough enriched uranium to be months away from producing nuclear weapons, and has increased its support to violent proxies and clients like Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and other jihadist storm troopers. Indeed, according to The Gatestone Institute, “Iran provides roughly $100 million a year to Palestinian terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and $700 million a year to Hezbollah.”
The Biden administration has desperately tried to obscure Iran’s malignant behavior and support of Hamas, all subsided by U.S. taxpayers. But as the Heritage Foundation’s Victoria Coates and Robert Greenway explained, “Absent significant training, equipment, and intelligence capabilities supplied by Iran, Hamas would never have been able to have carried out such an operation.” Moreover, “Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad told the BBC that Iran gave them a green light for the attack. The Wall Street Journal has reported that ‘according to senior members of Hamas and Hezbollah, … Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps had worked with Hamas since August to devise the air, land, and sea incursions.’”
Yet other actions taken by the Biden administration during his term have damaged our prestige and signaled that the U.S., as Osama bin Laden said, is a “weak horse.” The shameful abandonment of Afghan allies and billions in war materiel to the Taliban, who passed some of the weapons on to Hamas; the reductions in defense spending to subsidize more entitlements and “green energy” boondoggles; the politicization of the Pentagon and the service academies with “woke” regulations and propaganda that contribute to the recruitment crisis; and the suicidal net-zero carbon policies that have made gas and energy costs skyrocket––all have emboldened our and Israel’s enemies.
Equally dangerous in the current crisis are the calls by some Congressmen and other left-wing activists, many in prestigious universities, for “solidarity” with the butchers; demand for a “ceasefire” that would leave Hamas unpunished; the duplicitous warnings about Israel’s “disproportionate” response; and the indulgence of a despicable moral equivalence between Israel and its savage attackers––all these “woke” leftist displays and policies have damaged our military preparedness, and fostered a failure of civilizational nerve that incites aggression.
Yet the Biden administration’s Middle East follies are only the latest example of Western foreign policy delusions that have compromised Israel’s security since its birth. One particularly relevant to the Arab-Israeli conflict has been the “national self-determination” shibboleth encoded in the Versailles settlement. But as historian Edward Luttwak points out, “nationalism is un-Islamic . . . because any nationalism intrinsically subverts Islamic unity,” which hasn’t stopped Westerners from attributing Palestinian Arabs’ violent opposition to Israel to a lack of its own nation.
Moreover, this elevation of a Western ideal to the default political order for the whole world, was necessarily opposed to imperialism and colonialism, and such opposition became a central tenet of Western foreign policy.
In the postwar period, Islamic nations and the Soviet Union––both historically were imperial and colonial powers––weaponized imperialism and colonialism against the free West. Exploiting the “rules-based new world order” and its fetish for diplomacy and negotiation, the enemies of the West turned these terms for historical phenomena into question-begging epithets. Or as Robert Conquest put it, verbal “mind-blockers and thought-extinguishers” used “to confuse, and of course to replace, the complex and needed process of understanding with the simple and unneeded process of inflammation.”
These smears have indeed inflamed the Arab-Israeli conflict for more than 75 years. First, as Jeane Kirkpatrick, Ronald Reagan’s UN Ambassador put it, the PLO and the UN “created a people where there was none; a claim where there was none. Now the PLO is seeking to create a state where there already is one.” By exploiting the “imperialism” and “colonialism” slurs, the PLO turned “national self-determination” into the Trojan Horse for the Arab Palestinians’ eliminationist aims, a ruse accepted by the West.
And these charges of “imperialism” and “colonialism” have been used not just by the Palestinian Arabs, but by their leftist sponsors in the West who demonize Israel as a “colonialist” power that created its state on the “stolen Arab homeland.” Thus the “Zionist imperialist stooges,” the “settler colonists” and their “apartheid” state, have thwarted the Arab Palestinian homeland they “occupy” as over time they have reduce the territory that rightfully belongs to “Palestinians.”
Yet despite the serial failures of the “land for peace” and “two-state solution” clichés, these mantras continue to be chanted by Western foreign policy mavens, who for decades have serially pressured Israel to make more and more concessions. But that solution is based on an illusion, for it assumes that a critical mass of Palestinian Arabs really just want their own state, even though an Arab state had been offered to this tiny subset of the Arab peoples in 1948, or could have been established before 1967, when the “West Bank” was illegally occupied by Jordan, or when five subsequent offers of a state were made by Israel––all of which were turned down.
As for surrendering “land for peace,” Israelis are suffering a mass terrorist attack today because they evacuated Gaza in 2005, which soon fell under the power of the genocidal Hamas. “Land for peace” had become “land for terrorist murder” long before the current slaughter, the largest toll of dead Jews since the Holocaust.
Next, this failure of the West has been empowered by the central fallacy of its delusionary foreign policy: that conflicts among peoples with diverse beliefs, faiths, traditions, political institutions, customs, mores, values, histories, and even war-making can be resolved through “diplomatic outreach and engagement.” Robert Conquest also pointed out the danger of such an illusion: “It is easy enough to fall into the trap of thinking that others think, within reason, like ourselves. But this trap is precisely the error that must be avoided in foreign affairs.”
And this is the fatal error of our foreign policy regarding Israel and its enemies. Western arrogance since the Versailles settlement has assumed that the whole world wants to become Westerners. This assumption lay behind Woodrow Wilson’s championing of national self-determination, and his promoting democratic institutions with their “norms” such as honoring other nations’ boundaries, or keeping one’s word given during negotiations and confirmed by signing treaties––a “norm” that all nations, by the way, have not always honored.
Hence the long dismal record of “diplomatic engagement,” “shuttle diplomacy,” “roadmaps,” “summits,” and “agreements” like the 1993 Oslo Accords, a dismal failure that quickly lead to the terrorist attacks of the Second Intifada, which killed 1000 Israelis. Our “special envoys” and diplomats mistakenly take it for granted that enough Palestinian Arabs truly want “two lands living side by side in peace,” rather than follow their faith’s command that any land conquered by Muslims remains Islamic forever, and that jihad must be waged until it is restored to the Islamic ummah. Israel, then, from that religious perspective is “occupied” land that violent jihad must liberate.
Naïve or duplicitous Westerners, of course, dismiss this obvious fact as an “Islamophobic” slur, despite decades of Palestinian Arabs telling us that “diplomatic engagement” and “agreements” are mere tactics sanctioned by Islam for buying time until force will achieve Islam’s doctrinal obligations. For example, Executive Council of the PLO member Zouhair Muhsin after the Six-Day War in 1967 said, “Yes, the existence of a separate Palestinian identity serves only tactical purposes. The founding of a Palestinian state is a new tool in the continuing battle against Israel.” Diplomacy, negotiation, and ceasefires, then, are tactics, as are terrorism and atrocities.
Foreign policy idealism has not been the only way the West has endangered Israel’s security. National interests, such as securing petroleum products from Arab nations, have trumped the loyalty owed to a Western ally and only democracy in a geopolitically critical region. Post-Holocaust anti-Semitism, disguised as anti-Zionism, has flourished, corrupted the UN, and influenced some nations’ foreign policies, especially in leftist parties and countries with large disgruntled Muslim immigrant populations. Hence the public protests and rallies here and in Europe support and celebrate Hamas’ butchery, employing eliminationist rhetoric such as “from the river to the sea,” short-hand for “wiping Israel off the map,” as Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed in 2005.
When it comes to Israel, too often the West has been the opposite of a true ally: No worse friend, no better enemy, one whose hands are stained with Israel’s blood. If anything good can come from these atrocities, one hopes it will be a Western return to foreign policy realism, and taking seriously those who proclaim they want to kill us.
If we in the West don’t awaken from our idealistic “new world order” slumbers, Jeanne Kirkpatrick’s prophecy may come true: “But having succeeded so well over the years in its campaign to delegitimize Israel, the PLO might yet also succeed in bringing the campaign to a triumphant conclusion, with consequences for the Jewish state that would be nothing short of catastrophic.”