At first sight, it looks almost inevitable that the war in Gaza will spread. Quite apart from the anger it has caused in the Muslim world, China and still more Russia would seem to have every incentive to cause trouble for the United States – and, as has been demonstrated again and again over the years, the Middle East is the greatest area of US vulnerability.
On closer examination, things do not look so simple. In the first place, if Moscow and Beijing are content with a purely diplomatic and public relations victory, they do not need to do anything at all. US virtual silence in the face of Israel’s indiscriminate bombardment of Gaza is doing it for them. Yet again, the United States has used its UN security council veto to defend Israel, as the solitary opponent both of all the other UNSC members, and a large majority of the general assembly. As western (and some US) diplomats have remarked (off the record), unfaltering US support for Israel has shredded the Biden administration’s strategy of competing with China for influence in the “global south”.
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the western reaction to it, the charge has been made across most of the non-western world (including by US partners like India) that the west has one standard for white victims, and a much lower one for everyone else. The Biden administration (and many European governments) have now in effect confirmed this.
Witness (in a widely circulated clip) the US national security council spokesperson John Kirby choking back crocodile tears over Russian bombardment of civilians in Ukraine, then justifying Israeli “collateral damage” in Gaza – although according to UN figures, Israel has already killed almost as many Palestinian civilians in two weeks as Russia has killed Ukrainian civilians in 20 months. Equally striking has been the refusal of the Biden administration to do anything to help the 500-600 Palestinian American US citizens trapped in Gaza. If anyone wants evidence to argue that in the eyes of Washington some US citizens are more equal than others, they need look no further than this.
Read the full piece in The Guardian.