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Tags: foreign | policy | realpolitik.

With Biden, Foreign Policy Sacrificed on Altar of Domestic

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Flags of Israel and Azerbaijan. (Oleg Bezrukov/

By    |   Wednesday, 21 February 2024 12:00 PM EST

Joe Biden's lack of knowledge on reason, reasonableness, and realpolitik in foreign policy stratagem painfully shows daily

Under the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden, American foreign policy appears hindered and flawed by several perturbing defects.

It seems to suffer from both a lack of general strategic perspective and of sound global-theater-specific understanding.

Moreover, it appears to be heavily impacted by extraneous factors not having any discernable relevance for the pursuit of American interests globally.

Critical Goal(s) for Military Success

This was starkly illustrated recently by the sharp changes in tone in U.S. attitudes towards Israel during its protracted battle against Hamas.

Immediately following the Oct. 7, 2023 massacre, in which innocent Israeli citizens — men, women, senior citizens, and infants — were slaughtered, mutilated, tortured, raped beheaded, and incinerated — the Biden administration appeared staunchly supportive of Israel’s right to self-defense.

But as the fighting dragged on, the U.S. began to adopt a more critical attitude towards IDF actions — particularly regarding a possible assault on Rafah, on Gaza’s southern border, conditioning any support for an operation against the town on plans to ensure the safety of Gazan civilians who fled to the south under Israeli directives.

For Israel, the takeover of Rafah is essential for its success in its battle to eradicate Hamas.

Indeed recently, Netanyahu declared that sending ground troops into Rafah is essential to meeting Israel’s war goals while Biden warned him that Israel should not conduct a military operation there without a "credible and executable" plan to protect civilians.

A Global Terror Incubator

Underscoring the problematic aspects of this is the recent daring Israeli Special Force rescue of two elderly hostages, kidnapped on Oct. 7.

The hostages were held in Rafah — among civilians — precisely because of U.S. opposition to Israeli military action there.

It's quite difficult to comprehend the underlying rationale of this policy twist — particularly regarding Hamas which is, after all, the exact antithesis of the all values the U.S. purports to cherish, and stand for: It's indisputably a tyrannical, homophobic, misogynistic organization freely elected by the Gaza public.

The approval it won in the polls proves that the Gazan public is not so much a victim of its elected leaders but the crucible in which it was formed and the incubator from which it emerged.

What lies behind this perverse and seemingly paradoxical U.S. approach to pressure Israel, the only like-minded ally in the region, into negotiations with an entity, whose very raison d’etre is its destruction?

The answer to this lies outside the realm of foreign policy and falls into the sphere of domestic politics and the current fabric of the Democratic Party.

Most of the ideological energy in the party comes from the radical, "progressive" (read "regressive") wing, on the far left of the party which harbors considerable animosity toward Israel and commensurate sympathy for the Palestinians, and fears that support for Israel could alienate its electorate, thus undermining the party’s fortunes in the elections?

A Geopolitical Pivot for the U.S.

Another case of self-obstructive policy appears to be the approach to Azerbaijan.

This central Asian country is not only a strong ally of Israel, being one of its largest energy suppliers and one of the biggest purchasers of Israeli armaments, but it has far-reaching importance for U.S. strategic interests as well.

Indeed, as one former U.S. national security adviser remarked, Azerbaijan constitutes one of the world's "geopolitical pivots" and a key to U.S. security interests.

Recently, however, in the wake of the recent fighting resulting in the dissolution of the former Armenian enclave Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh), relations between Washington and Baku have soured.

Thus, last November, Washington, D.C., reportedly under heavy domestic pressure from the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), initiated hostile legislative and administrative acts, the former prohibiting U.S. military aid to Baku for the two coming fiscal, the latter by including Azerbaijan in the State Department’s Special Watch List (SWL) for alleged religious intolerance — with the possibility of economic sanctions.

These actions appear somewhat heavy-handed toward a Shi’a Muslim majority country, one which is not only resolutely secular, pro-Western, and relatively free of religious bias.

Indeed, a recent Jerusalem Post article refers to it as a: "model of interfaith harmony, where the nation embraces and protects the Jewish community."

America’s Linchpin

Moreover, in terms of realpolitik self-interest, Washington, D.C. has several security interests in the region as well — deterring threats from Iran and Russia and limiting Islamic extremism.

Azerbaijan has proved a willing partner in each of these areas.

Baku has given U.S. energy companies access to Azerbaijani energy reserves and supported U.S. military campaigns in the Mideast.

Likewise, Azerbaijan’s geostrategic position in Central Asia prompted one prominent strategic analyst to describe Azerbaijan as America’s "linchpin" in the area.

Furthermore, for the West, Azerbaijan’s strategic pipelines (see here & here) and considerable energy exports reduce dependency on Russia.

Indeed, European Community (EC) President Ursala von der Leyen praised Azerbaijan as a “reliable, trustworthy partner” as Europe tries to break its reliance on Russian energy.

The history of the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict is complex and blame is not always easy to apportion fairly, However, it would appear that both reason and realpolitik, should perhaps spur a rethink of the current punitive approach toward Baku and other regions globally.

Martin Sherman spent seven years in operational capacities in the Israeli defense establishment. He is the founder of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), a member of the Habithonistim-Israel Defense & Security Forum (IDSF) research team, and a participant in the Israel Victory Project. Read Martin Sherman's Reports — More Here.

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Immediately following the Oct. 7, 2023 massacre, in which innocent Israeli citizens — men, women, senior citizens, and infants, were slaughtered, mutilated, tortured, raped beheaded, and incinerated, the Biden administration appeared staunchly supportive of Israel’s right to self-defense.
foreign, policy, realpolitik.
Wednesday, 21 February 2024 12:00 PM
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