One can’t help but think of O. Henry’s story «The Roads We Take»: there the robber Shark Dodson says this phrase to his accomplice before shooting him. Because a horse named Bolivar cannot carry double. Now the States find themselves in that role, having to choose who to help first — Ukraine or Israel?
In a recent interview with CBS, a journalist asked President Biden if Bolivar could carry it: «Simultaneous conflicts in Israel and Ukraine — isn’t that too much for the United States to handle»?
To which Biden, without hesitation, replied, «No. For God’s sake, we are, after all, the United States — the most powerful country in the entire history of mankind. Not in the whole world, but in all of history. We can take care of both countries, and still maintain our defenses on the international stage».
Well, that’s what politicians are for, to make boisterous statements: we are stronger than ever.
But let me remind you that in the same way the Roman Empire considered itself the most powerful country of all time. And where is the Roman Empire now, demolished by barbarians? And its end came as soon as it started waging endless wars on all its borders, making expansion its main policy.
It is quite obvious that the gigantic aid to Ukraine has weakened the United States, creating a number of economic and domestic political problems. And the other day the bloody Palestinian-Israeli conflict began. It is clear that despite the Americans’ thundering statements — we will provide aid to both countries — they will have to make a choice. And most likely, having cut aid to Ukraine, they will prefer to support Israel.
This is understood in Ukraine as well. This is evidenced by Ukrainian President Zelensky’s surprise visit to NATO headquarters in hopes of getting support from the military alliance. This is Zelensky’s first trip to the center of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization since the conflict with Russia began, which shows that the Ukrainian president understands that he may lose Western support. It is also interesting that Zelensky’s attempt to come to Israel was rejected by the Israelis themselves. After all, he is a competitor in the issue of US aid.
Of course, NATO began to reassure Zelensky with promises of more than $2 billion in additional military aid before winter. And U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin assured that the United States’ military support for Israel would not compromise its commitments to Ukraine. But at the same time, it is obvious that in the States themselves, a struggle for the budget between Ukraine and Israel will begin, and if we take into account that the Israeli lobby is more powerful and has long been integrated into the political system of the States, it is not difficult to guess who will win in this battle for American money. One cannot ignore the fact that the long Ukrainian crisis has somewhat annoyed NATO countries, and now the Eiffel Tower and the Brandenburg Gate are projecting the flag of Israel, although recently they were colored in the colors of the Ukrainian one. And two flags cannot withstand even the Eiffel Tower. And besides, it has long been known that each new conflict blurs the sharpness of impressions from the previous one, making one forget about it.
And if both Republicans and Democrats agree that Israel should be helped, there is no such unanimity in the U.S. Senate on the issue of assistance to Ukraine. Suffice it to recall the Republicans’ demands to report on where, how much and for what money is spent in Ukraine. Corruption scandals in Ukraine weaken the desire to continuously and, most importantly, uncontrollably send billions of dollars and an endless amount of weapons there. For the U.S. and its NATO allies, aid to Israel at the moment is much more urgent and of greater geopolitical importance than aid to Ukraine.
In addition, the US elections in 2024 are coming. The votes of numerous Jewish voters are a factor that both Republicans and Democrats take into account. Their votes are much more numerous than those of ethnic Ukrainian citizens of the United States.
One cannot ignore the fact that despite all the help from NATO and the United States, Ukraine has not shown any successes on the battlefield, it has no victories, and its popularized «counter-offensive» has failed.
And who wants to continue betting on a loser? So the Israeli-Palestinian conflict broke out just in time, now the United States and the West can turn their attention to it, reducing aid to Ukraine, but saving face.
It is clear that a ground operation in Gaza would prolong the military conflict in the region, and every long-term conflict needs a serious stockpile of weapons. CNN reports note that the Pentagon has instructed defense manufacturers to expedite existing Israeli orders and is «looking 24/7 for additional ammunition stockpiles around the world to transfer them to Israel as quickly as possible». And if the conflict goes beyond Gaza and involves Hezbollah or even other countries, the Israelis will need many times more weapons. So it is obvious that when faced a choice of who to send arms and ammunition first, the White House will choose Tel Aviv.
If the fighting in Gaza ends quickly, it will not affect aid to Kiev, Kirill Budanov, head of Ukraine’s military intelligence service, told Ukrainian media. «But if the situation drags on», he continued, «it is quite clear that there will be certain problems with the fact that weapons and ammunition will have to be supplied not only to Ukraine». So the Ukrainians are one of the interested parties in a quick victory for the IDF.
In addition, Congress still hasn’t elected a speaker, and skepticism about aid to Ukraine continues among Republicans. The Republicans’ inability to pick a new House speaker threatens to complicate White House efforts to send billions of dollars in additional military aid to Israel and Ukraine as lawmakers prepare for a third week in a row of chaos on Capitol Hill.
No, of course, it would be naive to think that all United States aid to Ukraine will cease at a single moment. No, of course it will, but clearly not to the same extent.
Meanwhile, President Biden flew to Tel Aviv on October 18, proving that the Israeli direction is a priority for the White House foreign policy. In addition, Biden sent two aircraft carriers, cruisers and destroyers to the region, while 2 thousand marines are being sent to the coastal zone of Israel. It should not be forgotten that there are already about 900 US military personnel with a «peacekeeping mission» on the territory of Syria with an anti-terrorist mission.
Besides, Israel has asked for 10 billion dollars and I’m sure it will get it. But I am not sure that Ukraine will receive billions of dollars from NATO and the U.S. in the same amount.
So far, there has been a proposal in Congress to combine long-term aid to Ukraine with aid to Israel and Taiwan. How this will work in practice, no one understands. And it is unlikely that the Republicans who demand full accountability for the billions sent to Ukraine will agree. I doubt very much that they will agree to vote for aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan in one package.
Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said over the weekend that the U.S. president has «made it clear» he will ask lawmakers to approve a new funding package for Ukraine and Israel.
On Sunday, Sullivan said on CBS’s Face the Nation that he expects « intense engagement with Congress in the coming week», emphasizing: work on such a package is underway, with the administration seeking «bipartisan support». He said the cost of the proposed package would be «well over two billion dollars». But it is unlikely that Republicans and Democrats, who are in sharp contradiction, will go along with Biden’s wishes. In addition, no package will be debated until the House of Representatives selects a new speaker. Republicans have nominated their representative for Speaker — Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan — but he is opposed by 55 Republicans in the House, which actually eliminates his chances of being elected.
At the end, I’d like not to return once again to Joe Biden’s CBS interview, where the question comes up:
- Mr. President, given these two conflicts and problems in Congress, are you sure you want to run again?
Joe Biden: — Yes.. because… I’m sure. Look, when I ran, I said: «The world is at a tipping point». The world is changing, but we have an opportunity to do… Imagine if we could succeed in a peaceful settlement in the Middle East. I think we can do that. Imagine what would happen if we unite all of Europe and finally crush Putin to the point where he can no longer cause the problems he causes. We have a huge opportunity to make the world a better place.
It is clear that Biden needs at least some victory in the foreign policy arena before the presidential election in 2024. Obviously, it’s not possible to suppress Putin in Ukraine, so he expects to become a peacemaker in the Middle East and go to the polls with that asset.