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Washington's eroding credibility due to flawed policy in the Gaza war

Imran Khalid

A woman sits in a damaged house following Israeli bombardment in Rafah in southern Gaza, January 13, 2024. /CFP
A woman sits in a damaged house following Israeli bombardment in Rafah in southern Gaza, January 13, 2024. /CFP

A woman sits in a damaged house following Israeli bombardment in Rafah in southern Gaza, January 13, 2024. /CFP

Editor's note: Imran Khalid, a special commentator on current affairs for CGTN, is a freelance columnist on international affairs. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

The protracted Gaza conflict has extended into its fourth month, resulting in over 22,000 deaths and exacerbating a severe humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian enclave.

The escalating death toll and heightened suffering in Gaza trace back primarily to Washington's unwavering endorsement of Israel's military actions, which have surpassed the bounds of legitimate "self-defense." Without the consistent and timely military and financial support from the U.S., a substantial portion of which the Joe Biden administration has furnished without congressional approval, Israel's prolonged and intense campaigns would have been unattainable. The U.S.'s strategic vetoes and hindrance of pertinent international proposals have impeded the United Nations Security Council from passing resolutions advocating a ceasefire. This obstruction has prevented the Council from assuming authority in overseeing the delivery of essential humanitarian aid to Gaza. If not for the U.S.'s compliant support of Israel, certain Israeli politicians might not have dared to propose relocating Palestinians in Gaza and beyond. Additionally, Israel might not have expanded operations into Lebanon, Syria, Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), Iraq, Yemen, and Iran, as acknowledged by its defense chief just before withdrawing troops from northern Gaza.

In the past four months, U.S. officials have made frequent visits to the Middle East, yet it's regrettable that their presence hasn't been utilized for ceasefire negotiations. The Biden administration's primary concern seems focused not on the civilians in Gaza or Israeli hostages but on preventing the Gaza conflict from escalating beyond control. This is particularly concerning as the Ukraine-Russia conflict, orchestrated by the U.S., shows no signs of a swift proxy victory.

With Israel capitalizing on unwavering support from the Biden administration, indications suggest the Gaza conflict is rapidly spreading across the entire Middle East. Drone strikes killing Hamas deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri in Lebanon, explosions in Iran, and intensified attacks on U.S. targets in Iraq, Syria, and the Red Sea contribute to the growing regional turmoil. Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu, buoyed by steadfast Western backing, persists in his relentless Gaza campaign, tarnishing Israel's global standing and causing domestic economic and societal fissures. Complicating matters, the conflict has acquired new dimensions with the Houthis' strategic maneuvers in the Red Sea. The Middle Eastern morass underscores the broader unraveling of U.S. influence on the world stage. Washington finds itself entangled anew in the Middle East quagmire and is desperately trying to orchestrate a multinational naval coalition, seeking to reinstate order to the purported international rules-based order. Nonetheless, subsequent events veer from the anticipated script. The erosion of American leadership has been a protracted process, but its acceleration under Biden is palpable, ushering in a marked decline in global esteem and heightened skepticism regarding its leadership acumen.

Smoke billows over the southern Lebanese village of El-Khiam near the border with Israel, January 11, 2024. /CFP
Smoke billows over the southern Lebanese village of El-Khiam near the border with Israel, January 11, 2024. /CFP

Smoke billows over the southern Lebanese village of El-Khiam near the border with Israel, January 11, 2024. /CFP

In the ongoing Gaza conflict, Israel's utilization of carpet bombing, collective reprisals, and siege tactics is propelling warfare beyond the boundaries of civilized behavior. An examination of the rapport between the U.S. and Israel unveils a disquieting reality. Despite the White House's consistent vocalization of values such as peace, freedom, and human rights, its unwavering backing of Israel exposes a conspicuous incongruity between American rhetoric and deeds. These incongruities and dual standards, starkly evident in Washington's stance on the Ukraine conflict, further erode confidence in the international order under U.S. stewardship.

Similar sentiments echo regarding the legitimacy of international law and global agreements. A mounting roster of nations, encompassing Chile, Bolivia, Colombia, and Honduras, are withdrawing their diplomatic representatives from Israel, articulating their dissatisfaction with the prevailing circumstances. Influential countries like China, South Africa, Türkiye, and Brazil are openly expressing disapproval of Biden's steadfast pro-Israel stance. Public opinion further challenges Washington's standing as a reliable custodian of global order.

This growing disillusionment amplifies doubts about the credibility of the current international framework and the efficacy of the United States as a stalwart upholder of global justice. Houthi assaults on key Red Sea checkpoints have plunged global maritime trade into a precarious state, presenting economic and insurance concerns. The strategic importance of the Bab el-Mandeb Strait in facilitating oil and LNG transit to Europe adds to the complexity.

In response to economic risks and maritime firms' apprehensions, the U.S. initiated Operation Prosperity Guardian, garnering nominal support from 20 nations. However, Spain, Italy, and France defiantly assert their ability to independently safeguard navigation freedom, rejecting any inclination to operate under American directives. Their reluctance to join a U.S.-led initiative signals a clear preference for leveraging the existing EU anti-piracy operation, showcasing a nuanced approach to maritime security. These echoes highlight the potential for rifts within crucial NATO alliances. The European stance on the anti-Houthi coalition reflects the chronic impact of past disappointments, pushing nations to carve out independent courses of action shaped by historical considerations. This is part of the intensifying global discontent over Washington's strategy in the Gaza war.

The deteriorating situation in the Middle East is yet another chaotic outcome attributable to the flawed policies of the United States. It is imperative for the U.S. to acknowledge Gaza's dire situation and adopt a more constructive stance, urging Israel towards a ceasefire. The U.S. must recognize its position on the wrong side of global opinion and history due to its blatant obstinacy.

(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at opinions@cgtn.com. Follow @thouse_opinions on Twitter to discover the latest commentaries in the CGTN Opinion Section.) 

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