Once Again, President Biden Caves to the Bernie Sanders Left

Posted on Monday, May 13, 2024
by Outside Contributor

Since May 8, when President Biden told CNN’s Erin Burnett that the United States would not supply Israel with weapons if the IDF enters Hamas’s stronghold in the Gaza Strip, many of Israel’s supporters in the United States have felt a sense of shock, confusion, anger, betrayal, abandonment, and dread.

Shock at the suddenness of the policy reversal and the banal setting of Biden’s major shift. Confusion at the incoherence of a policy that denounces anti-Semitism one day and protects Hamas the next. Anger at the news that Biden tried to hide his “pause” in munitions shipments to Israel so that it would not interfere with coverage of his speech on Holocaust Remembrance Day. Betrayal at his threat to deny Israel the tools it needs to finish the task of ending Hamas as a coherent military force. And dread at what might befall the United States and Israel during the remainder of this presidency.

What happened to the Joe Biden who exhibited moral clarity toward Israel? Did he shuffle off the stage in search of ice cream?

For a while after the October 7 attacks, it looked as if Biden might back Israel to the hilt. As Biden said in Tel Aviv on October 18, Hamas’s despicable acts “recall the worst ravages of ISIS, unleashing pure unadulterated evil upon the world.” In America’s campaign against ISIS, we dropped heavy bombs on urban environments. Not because we wanted to. Because terrorists who burrow underground and use civilians as shields force us to.

Then the war in Gaza ground on. Media outlets amplified Hamas propaganda. Biden’s poll numbers dropped. He lost the plot. He began to waver. And he retreated to his usual corner: the Bernie Sanders left.

Sanders’s priorities have informed Biden’s governance as far back as the unity task force in the summer of 2020. Biden filled his government with allies of Sanders’s left-wing ally, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.). True, Biden repudiated Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, Defund the Police, and Abolish ICE. But his “Build Back Better” agenda would transform the United States into a social democracy. His Inflation Reduction Act and electric vehicle subsidies and environmental regulations are catnip for the green movement. He’s done little to stop the millions who have crossed the southern border illegally. His regulatory agencies are anti-business. His student-loan forgiveness initiatives are an unconstitutional sop to the campus left. Biden hasn’t endorsed the Sanders-Warren program. He just dances to its tune.

Consider: On April 22, the same day Biden denounced “anti-Semitic protests” as well as “those who don’t understand what’s going on with the Palestinians,” the president met with Sen. Ed Markey (D., Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.). Ocasio-Cortez supports illegal pro-Hamas encampments on college campuses. She has repeated the disgusting slander that Israel is committing “genocide” in Gaza. And she belongs to the notorious “Squad” of anti-Semitic Democratic members of Congress like Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Jamaal Bowman.

Biden was all smiles with the extremist AOC. “I learned a long time ago: Listen to that lady,” Biden said before the private meeting. “We’re going to talk more about another part of the world, too.”

On May 3, around the time Biden denounced the campus protests in brief remarks, Sanders told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that, like LBJ and the Vietnam war, “President Biden is putting himself in a position where he has alienated, not just young people, but a lot of the Democratic base, in terms of his views on Israel and this war.” Sanders went on to say he hoped Biden “stops giving a blank check to [Israeli prime minister Benjamin] Netanyahu, and I would hope that they understand that from a political point of view, this has not been helpful.”

Message received. Among the few lawmakers who unequivocally backed Biden’s “red line” against Israel: Bernie Sanders.

If Biden sees short-term gain in his alliance with Sanders, he is mistaken. Daylight between the United States and Israel emboldens Iran and its murderous proxies. This isn’t guesswork. It’s the story of Barack Obama’s presidency.

Obama downgraded relationships with traditional U.S. allies such as Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia to withdraw America from the region under the cover of the Iranian nuclear deal. Wars in Gaza, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, a supercharged global Islamist movement, and an Iran engorged on oil money and sanctions relief were the result.

No one should want to repeat this bloody history. But that is the path Biden has chosen.  “We’re not walking away from Israel’s security,” he told Erin Burnett. “We’re walking away from Israel’s ability to wage war in those areas.”

Does he even know what “security” means? Israel is not waging war in places like Rafah for fun. Israel is fighting Hamas because Israel was attacked on October 7 and because the terrorist organization poses an existential threat. If Hamas remains in power anywhere in Gaza, it will regenerate, replenish, and plan future atrocities. Israel won’t be secure.

Worse, if Hamas survives the current hostilities, it will be seen as the victor throughout the Greater Middle East and in the Arab and Muslim world more generally—not to mention in places such as Russia and China, or inside faculty lounges and tent encampments throughout the West. The risks to Israel will multiply. The tactics used in anti-Semitic marches and protests will be legitimized. Harassment and violence against Jews will grow.

If Israel cannot achieve its aims of defeating Hamas and recovering the hostages, then Israel will suffer a tremendous blow to its credibility as a state. Israelis will lose confidence in their government’s capacity to protect them from Iran’s ring of fire. Some Israelis may look for the exits. Other Jews may think twice before migrating to the Holy Land. The foundation of Zionism—that the Jewish people will find security in their national home—will be undermined.

That is why Israel has no choice but to continue its war. That is why “walking away from Israel’s ability to wage war in those areas” is the same as walking away from Israel’s security. Weakening the U.S.-Israel alliance, pressuring Netanyahu to tamp down or pause military operations, forcing on Israel a ceasefire weighted toward Hamas, and otherwise constraining the actions of our democratic ally of 76 years serves no constructive purpose whatsoever. All it does is degrade and destroy.

Biden may think that, by listening to Sanders and to Ocasio-Cortez, he is walking away from Israel’s war. He is not. He is embracing a morally blind and strategically unsound position. And more voters will walk away from him.

Matthew Continetti is the director of domestic policy studies and the inaugural Patrick and Charlene Neal Chair in American Prosperity at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where his work is focused on American political thought and history, with a particular focus on the development of the Republican Party and the American conservative movement in the 20th century.

Reprinted with Permission from AEI.org – By Matthew Continetti

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of AMAC or AMAC Action.

URL : https://amac.us/newsline/national-security/once-again-president-biden-caves-to-the-bernie-sanders-left/