The conflict has put to the test Biden’s foreign policy direction. There’s no room for doublespeak.
An Asian diplomat once said something that raised my eyebrows –preferring Donald Trump to current US President Joe Biden.
Upon delving into his thinking, the envoy came up with a simple rationale: he likened Trump to an Afrikaner – telling you straight in your face – while Biden blew hot and cold.
“You can’t predict which way he is going,” he explained.
Like Jacob Zuma, whose presidency plunged South Africa into a crisis, Americans could not wait to see the back of Trump – as seen in last year’s US presidential poll results.
Among their many common traits during their presidencies, Zuma and Trump were notorious for reshuffling the executive – getting rid of those failing to implement orders.
Globally hailed as a breath of fresh air and expected to usher in a progressive foreign policy – world peace, justice, human rights, political and economic stability – the Biden administration has now been found wanting when dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Despite telephone calls to leaders in the region – including appeals to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for a truce – the slaughter continues, including attacks on journalists, women and children.
Biden’s handling of the crisis has so far been short of praise, taking flak from all quarters – including Democrats, questioning the president’s commitment to human rights.
Demanding more pressure on Israel, liberal lawmakers have criticised the White House for appeasing Israel and ignoring human rights – not openly opposing Israel’s planned evictions of Palestinian families from east Jerusalem.
Maryland Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen, who serves on the foreign relations committee, said the planned evictions violated international laws and questioned the administration’s commitment to human rights.
Amid the rising civilian death toll, there have been mixed messages from the Biden administration. He said last week: “One of the things that I have seen thus far is that there has not been a significant overreaction.”
And a White House statement released this week reads, in part: “The president spoke today with Israeli prime minister Netanyahu. The president reiterated his firm support for Israel’s right to defend itself against indiscriminate rocket attacks. The president welcomed efforts to address intercommunal violence and to bring calm to Jerusalem…”
Such remarks are far from being helpful in the ongoing conflict, which has raised the ire of the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights and other concerned organisations.
What has now added more fuel to the fire, has been the US government’s reported approval of a $735 million (about R10.3 billion) precision-guided weapons system to Israel. Was such a sale motivated by concerns for human rights, or profits?
As more people continue to die in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, can Biden afford to lose public confidence on crucial matters of human rights?
The conflict has put to the test Biden’s foreign policy direction.
There’s no room for doublespeak.