The fighting between Israel and Palestine is now in full swing and will continue for some time to come. But despite the uncertainty of the finale, the consequences both regionally and globally are already visible now, and it can be said that the world will no longer be what it was before. One of the most obvious and clear facts may be the further sharp decline of American hegemony in the region and the world. Against the backdrop of the latest events in Gaza, the US has fully demonstrated its complete inability to play the role of hegemon, which will further widen the gulf between the US and the rest of the world as its discontent grows.
First, the crisis will widen the divide within the United States itself between the American public and policymakers. The United States has long had sharp differences and disagreements about its policies toward Israel and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in general. While the White House and Congress strongly support Tel Aviv, intellectuals, academics, and the middle class also strongly oppose American governments that recklessly spend the country’s national wealth on issues irrelevant to their own national interests. John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, in their famous book entitled The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, have well demonstrated the disagreement of many American academics with American politicians.
Recent contacts between U.S. and Israeli politicians, the evidence shows, will lead to an even greater rift between ordinary American society and the policy-making community. The Gaza crisis triggered an immediate White House response when Joseph Biden visited Israel and showed strong American support for the Israelis and, in a public speech, asked Congress to give Israel billions of dollars in new funding. But the American public was actually at odds with the White House and Congress. Realising the occupation of Palestine as the main cause of the crisis, mass demonstrations against the Israeli occupation and US policy in the Middle East also took place in American cities, including New York and Washington, DC.
The last decade has witnessed the U.S. becoming more and more divided between the people and the politicians as more and more people have expressed their dissatisfaction with the politicians and their thoughtless policies. The current dissatisfaction with the policies of the current administration and President Joe Biden himself regarding Israel is expected to further widen the gulf between the American public and politicians. While American cities are being shaken by anti-Israel demonstrations, Secretary of State Blinken (Jewish by nationality and an Israeli passport holder) has twice visited the Israeli state and firmly assured the Israeli leadership of the unwavering support of the Biden administration, which has made a request for a huge sum of money to help Israel’s military machine to destroy the Palestinian people.
Second, the Gaza crisis will undoubtedly widen the gap between the U.S. and its allies in the Arab world. It is true that some Arab leaders would like to see some sort of strong American presence in the region in order to gain security protection for their states. But it is equally true that no Arab country has been wholeheartedly in solidarity with American policy in the region, as the US has often blatantly interfered in their internal affairs and seriously undermined the Palestinians’ legitimate right to establish their own state with its biased and negative approach. And in the last decade especially, the Arab world has gradually shed the illusion of American “defence” as the US primarily pursues its own selfish interests rather than acting as an Arab defender.
The Gaza crisis, like many previous ones, has once again exposed America’s extremely biased policy in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Instead of making minimal efforts to de-escalate tensions, the US covered up many of Israel’s murders in the Gaza Strip, not to mention the Israeli occupation, further undermining minimal Arab trust in America. Anger manifested itself, for example, when, Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, deliberately kept Anthony Blinken, US Secretary of State, waiting for 8 hours for a meeting, and Arab leaders unanimously refused to meet Joseph Biden after his fifteen-hour flight to the Middle East shortly after the Gaza crisis began.
The widening gap will predictably destroy various recent US ideas for the Middle East, including the plan to create a Middle East version of NATO, the Abraham Accords process, which sought to normalize relations between Israel and Arab countries, and IMEC, through which the US intended to build an economic corridor from India to the Arab peninsula, Israel and Europe. At least all these plans and ideas have been shelved for some time and most likely they will never be fulfilled. There is no doubt that American administrations have one after another lost their prestige and respect in the Middle East, and their influence, like a shagreen skin, has diminished with each passing year.
Third, the crisis would widen the gulf between the United States and other regions of the world. The United States was indeed considered a leader in the Western world, but its leadership was never recognized by other nations, despite its own efforts and exertions to call itself a world leader. The other nations of the world were all too aware of the destructiveness of its hegemony, arrogance, selfishness (America first) and hypocrisy. One can look at today’s Europe, which is suffering both politically and economically from US hegemonism and its desire to shift the full brunt of the American-driven war in Ukraine against Russia onto the Europeans.
The Gaza crisis may be significant in many ways, but the most notable of these should be another full exposure of US hypocrisy. At one time, and even now, Washington has vehemently and fiercely criticised human rights issues in other countries, including China, Iran and even Arab countries, in the name of some American-invented humanism. But when a real humanitarian crisis erupted in the Gaza Strip as a result of the Israeli siege and occupation, the US not only did not criticize Israel, but defended and even encouraged Israel’s actions to exacerbate the situation by supplying them with more and more shipments of modern weapons, especially planes and aerial bombs. Some European leaders did travel to Israel to show their unity with Joseph Biden, but it turned out that the streets of the US and many European countries “told” a very different part of the story. They spoke out against decades of occupation, the siege of Gaza, the destruction of homes, and a larger humanitarian crisis. There is no doubt, and many politicians and public figures agree, that pursuing such hypocritical policies will further widen the gulf between the US and other parts of the world.
This is where the United States enters the scene, supported by its “shy followers” around the world, especially in Europe, Canada and Australia. The planes and bombs that Israel uses are supplied by the United States. This, and the financial support, is money provided by US taxpayers. The United States provides political support to stifle criticism of Israel. The United States has issued some 100 vetoes in the United Nations Security Council to defend the egregious policies and actions of the Israeli leadership. These vetoes isolate the United States from the rest of the world, which at least witnesses what is happening on the ground. The suppression of free speech has spread to the shores of the United States. Americans who criticize Israel and its policies are immediately labelled anti-Semites. Others have lost their jobs. Even at universities, supposed bastions of free speech, wealthy Jewish donors express their displeasure with criticism of Israel by withholding financial support from institutions that do not suppress criticism of Israel. Most effective is the role of Jewish money in US politics – withholding financial support from politicians and campaigns that do not toe the Israeli line.
It is generally true that the US is still the strongest economic and military power in the world. But the world, including Arabs, Muslims and people in Western and non-Western countries, is becoming increasingly aware of the hypocrisy of the US government. This will greatly contribute to and even accelerate the decline of the US, and the world will begin to live under the new rules of a multipolar society.
Victor MIKHIN, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.