Panic Hits the Biden Camp

For months, the Biden Administration had rejected even the use of the term “ceasefire” in discussing the slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza. But then, suddenly, in a speech in Selma, Alabama on March 3, Vice President Kamala Harris called for an “immediate ceasefire”. She described the situation in Gaza as “devastating… too many innocent Palestinians have been killed”, and mentioned an “immense scale of suffering”. Harris’ comments came on the day before a scheduled meeting in Washington with Benny Gantz, a retired general and member of Benjamin Netanyahu’s war cabinet. His visit to the U.S. capital was attacked by members of Netanyahu’s cabinet, one of whom called him a “Trojan horse”, as the government did not approve of his visit.

One close observer of Washington’s politics said he believes the statement by the Vice President signals a deepening panic in the Biden camp. He pointed to several recent developments:

1. The anti-Biden vote in the Michigan Democratic primary on Feb. 27, in which more than 101,000 votes (13.2%) were cast for “uncommitted”, in an organized protest against Biden’s continuing support for Netanyahu. For Biden to be re-elected in 2024, Michigan is a must-win state.

2. The shock and anger catalyzed by the self-immolation of an active-duty member of the U.S. Air Force, Aaron Bushnell, in front of the Israeli Embassy in Washington on Feb. 25, as a powerful protest against what the young man called “U.S. support for genocide”.

3. Widespread reporting of the “flour massacre”, in which well over 100 Palestinians were killed trying to reach food trucks delivering flour. While the Israeli Defense Forces insisted initially that the deaths resulted from a stampede, later reports corrected that, confirming Israeli fire caused many of the deaths.

4. The announcement by the Deputy Executive Director of the UN World Food Program that more than 500,000 Palestinians in Gaza are at risk of starvation.

5. A New York Times poll released over the weekend which shows that 73% of those who voted for Biden in 2020 now consider him “too old to be effective”, according to the paper’s report.

Further, in addition to the growing opposition to the policy in Southwest Asia, it is increasingly clear that the Biden-NATO plan for a victory in the proxy war against Russia has been shattered, while the stalemate over additional funds for Ukraine continues in the Congress. These developments have rattled all but the most deluded war hawks in Washington.

The fear among Biden supporters is that the decidedly negative turn of events in the wars is sinking the prospects of defeating Donald Trump, who has all but wrapped up the Republican nomination with primary victories in the last week. The statement by Kamala Harris may have been a trial balloon, to test the response to a change in policy. In itself, it means nothing, except as a sign that at least some in the U.S. establishment are looking for a way out, as the chaos unleashed by its commitment to Permanent War is creating a highly volatile political environment.

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