A surprising change of tone came from the Pentagon in early December. After weeks of devastating Israeli military operations inside Gaza, the US Secretary of Defense implored Israel to demonstrate restraint and concern for the civilian population.
The Hill in its early December 2023 article, “Israel risks ‘strategic defeat’ if civilians aren’t protected, Pentagon chief says,” would report:
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said Israel risks a “strategic defeat” if it does not work to protect Palestinian civilians in Gaza amid its war on militant group Hamas in the region. “The center of gravity is the civilian population and if you drive them into the arms of the enemy, you replace a tactical victory with a strategic defeat…”
The article also noted:
The Biden administration has issued caution that a campaign in southern Gaza must be carried out more precisely than Israel did in the first leg of the war.
After a century of American military aggression killing millions (mostly civilians) around the globe, everywhere from Southeast Asia to North Africa, across the Middle East and deep into Central Asia, is Washington finally finding a sense of humanity?
All while US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin attempted to convince the world that Washington cares about the Palestinian civilian population, the US continues flooding the Israeli arsenal with US-made weapons, enabling the campaign of indiscriminate brutality.
Bloomberg in its November 2023 article, “US Is Quietly Sending Israel More Ammunition, Missiles,” would report:
The Pentagon has quietly ramped up military aid to Israel, delivering on requests that include more laser-guided missiles for its Apache gunship fleet, as well as 155mm shells, night-vision devices, bunker-buster munitions and new army vehicles, according to an internal Defense Department list.
The weapons pipeline to Israel is extending beyond the well-publicized provision of Iron Dome interceptors and Boeing Co. smart bombs. It continues even as Biden administration officials increasingly caution Israel about trying to avoid civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip.
Israel could not continue its military operations and the subsequent destruction of Gaza’s civilian population without this US military aid. Israel also continues to enjoy US political protection within the halls of the United Nations.
Washington cannot even say it didn’t know its weapons would be used by Israel to carry out this indiscriminate brutality because Israeli military representatives openly declared they would before their military operations into Gaza even began.
The Guardian in their October 10, 2023, article, “‘Emphasis is on damage, not accuracy’: ground offensive into Gaza seems imminent,” admitted:
IDF spokesperson R Adm Daniel Hagari made the startling admission that “hundreds of tons of bombs” had already been dropped on the tiny strip, adding that “the emphasis is on damage and not on accuracy…”
Why then does Washington want the world to believe it has growing concerns over the nature of Israel’s military operations in Gaza, and more specifically, concerns regarding the brutality Washington is admitting is being used against the civilian population?
Washington’s History of Pleading Peace While Pursuing War
Washington wants plausible deniability. The US has for years followed a familiar pattern of attempting to covertly provoke nations and regions into conflict while publicly appearing to pursue reconciliation and peace.
For example, the US for years rhetorically supported the Minsk agreements regarding reconciliation within Ukraine, all while deliberately building up Ukraine’s military capabilities to empower and encourage the widening violence in eastern Ukraine and the eventual provocation of Russia to become directly involved in the conflict.
Likewise, the US officially maintains a “One China” policy in regards to the status of Taiwan, recognizing it as an integral part of Chinese territory, yet unofficially Washington has done everything in its power to undermine the policy and provoke war with China over its efforts to support separatism in Taipei.
Officially, the US supports the two-state solution regarding Israel and Palestine. Unofficially, and sometimes quite openly, the US has supported the most extreme elements within both Israel and among Palestinians to ensure no such peace agreement is ever possible.
Israel as the Eager Provocateur
The intention by Washington to use Israel as a proxy and provocateur within the Middle East is well documented within US government and corporate-funded policy think tank papers. One such paper, published by the Brookings Institution in 2009 titled, “Which Path to Persia? Options for a New American Strategy Toward Iran,” focuses on containing Iran politically, militarily, and economically. It lays out options for disarming Iran and for overthrowing its government through US-sponsored sedition or US military intervention. Beyond the US and groups the paper sought to use as proxies within Iran, the paper also cited Israel as an eager regional proxy that could attack Iran, triggering a regional war that the US could then appear “reluctant” to join. The goal, of course, is to appear that the US sought peace, being left with no choice but war, all while a US-led war was the objective to begin with.
The paper notes:
…it would be far more preferable if the United States could cite an Iranian provocation as justification for the airstrikes before launching them. Clearly, the more outrageous, the more deadly, and the more unprovoked the Iranian action, the better off the United States would be. Of course, it would be very difficult for the United States to goad Iran into such a provocation without the rest of the world recognizing this game, which would then undermine it. (One method that would have some possibility of success would be to ratchet up covert regime change efforts in the hope that Tehran would retaliate overtly, or even semi-overtly, which could then be portrayed as an unprovoked act of Iranian aggression.)
It also says:
“In a similar vein, any military operation against Iran will likely be very unpopular around the world and require the proper international context—both to ensure the logistical support the operation would require and to minimize the blowback from it. The best way to minimize international opprobrium and maximize support (however, grudging or covert) is to strike only when there is a widespread conviction that the Iranians were given but then rejected a superb offer—one so good that only a regime determined to acquire nuclear weapons and acquire them for the wrong reasons would turn it down. Under those circumstances, the United States (or Israel) could portray its operations as taken in sorrow, not anger, and at least some in the international community would conclude that the Iranians “brought it on themselves” by refusing a very good deal.”
Here, the paper admits Iran does not seek war, but could be provoked into one anyway, and notes that the US, or Israel, could then carry out military aggression against Iran having convinced the world they did so reluctantly.
Israel factors so heavily in US plans to provoke war with Iran, it was given its own chapter in the paper. Chapter 5 of the paper is titled, “Leave it to Bibib: Allowing or Encouraging an Israeli Military Strike,” and notes how a war started by Israel could then be cited as a pretext for the US itself to join in afterwards, and most importantly, appear to do so “reluctantly.”
Thus, as Israel continues destroying Gaza, targeting the civilian population deliberately, knowingly triggering unrest across the region which in turn is placing pressure on Arab governments as well as Iran’s to respond, the stage is being set for the possibility of wider conflict.
As Israel attacks, invades, and erases Gaza, it is also targeting Hezbollah in Lebanon. Both the US and Israel have already carried out strikes in Syria. The goal is to trigger a conflict the US and Israel can portray as an act of aggression against either or both to then expand military operations across the whole region.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin posing as concerned for the Palestinian population all while arming Israel to continue indiscriminately brutalizing them, is being done to convince the world the US is pleading peace all while in actuality pursuing wider war.
The US used the proxy war in Ukraine to reorder Europe and reassert hegemony over the continent, rolling back European cooperation with both Russia and China. The US likely seeks to repeat a similar process in the Middle East where relations are improving within the region between Iran and Saudi Arabia, and between Syria and the rest of the Arab World. The region also collectively continues moving closer with Russia and China as well as toward multipolarism.
Only time will tell if the region continues successfully moving out from under generations of Western hegemony – first under the British Empire and now under the US – or if the US will successfully trigger regional conflict that can divide, destroy, and disrupt this process, just as it has in Europe.
Brian Berletic is a Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.