Mon, Jul

Which name? Genocide Joe or President Joe Biden.


ISRAEL HAMAS WAR - Six months into Israel’s attack on Gaza, has Joe Biden finally shed his nickname of Genocide Joe, often shouted at him by protesters at presidential campaign events? 

On one hand: 

  • Biden’s UN Ambassador, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, abstained rather than vetoed the latest UN Security Council resolution calling for an immediate Gaza ceasefire. 
  • The Biden Administration has parachuted ready-to-eat meals into Gaza’s coastline.
  • The Biden Administration intends to build a large dock on Gaza’s coast.  It would allow ships to offload food, probably by May 2024.
  • Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer’s recent speech to the US Senate sharply criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and called for new Israeli elections.  According to news reports, the White House reviewed, approved, and commended Senator Schumer’s remarks. 

On the other hand, the Biden administration has continued to diplomatically, financially, and militarily support Israel’s destruction of Gaza’s infrastructure; lethal attacks on Palestinian non-combatants, and blockades of food, water, fuel, and medical supplies. 

o   1,800 MK84 2,000-pound bombs, capable of leveling an entire block,

o   500 MK82 500-pound bombs,

o   25 F35A fighter jets and parts.

What are the consequences of the US government’s continued support for Israel’s war in Gaza?  The International Court of Justice (ICJ) wrote on January 26, 2024: “It is plausible that Israel’s conduct amounts to genocide.”  In a follow-up March 28, 2024, decision, the ICJ ruled that Israel must, “Take all necessary and effective measures to ensure . . the unhindered provision . . of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance, including food, water, electricity, fuel, shelter, clothing, hygiene and sanitation requirements, as well as medical supplies and medical care to Palestinians throughout Gaza.” 

Historic Precedent:  There is an historic parallel to the current situation, in which both major US political parties and their candidates are/were pro-war.  In March 1968 pro-war President Lyndon Johnson declared that he would not run for a second term.  His equally pro-war Vice President, Hubert Humphrey received the Democratic Party’s nomination but lost to faux peace candidate Republican Richard Nixon.  In response to an election between two military hawks, the factionalized anti-Vietnam War movement poured itself into non-electoral politics.  They rejected the claim that Hubert Humphrey, like Joe Biden a half-century later, was a lesser-evil.  Even though Nixon was elected and escalated the bombing of Vietnam and Cambodia, his bombing campaigns failed, mass anti-war actions grew, and he ended the military draft.  The next shoe to drop was the complete US military withdrawal from Vietnam, in January 1973.   

Large anti-war march in Los Angeles, ca. 1970.  On Wilshire Boulevard near MacArthur Park.

Lessons:  Several lessons from these successful efforts to end the draft and Vietnam war should be taken to heart.  

Lesson 1: Regardless of whether the next US president is Donald Trump or Joe Biden, the US government’s diplomatic, financial, and military support for Israel will continue, at least until the US is unable or unwilling to back Israel’s endless wars against the Palestinians. 

Lesson 2: US electoral politics is not capable of ending these pro-war policies, but the anti-Vietnam war movements nevertheless succeeded when their anti-war actions were protracted, widespread, and contentious.   This happened 50 years ago, and it could happen again. 

(Victor Rothman is a California based policy analyst.)