Americans are redeploying thousands of sailors, warplanes and the country’s most advanced aircraft carrier in an effort to keep a powder keg from exploding across the Middle East.
The repositioning of resources towards the eastern Mediterranean aims to reassure Israel and serves as a cautionary signal, particularly directed at Iran.
Washington is anxiously monitoring the northern border of Israel, looking for indications of a potential second attack front and any proof of a planned joint offensive against the Jewish state by various militias supported by Iran.
The U.S. is strongly hinting that such a move could drag it into the conflict in defence of Israel. U.S. officials made clear Tuesday their aircraft carrier is there in case new parties join the war.
President Joe Biden issued a warning on Tuesday at the White House, stating that he has a single word for any country, organization, or individual contemplating exploiting the current circumstances: Refrain from doing so.
There is no doubt: the United States supports Israel fully.
No sign of ‘nightmare scenario’ yet
There is no evidence yet, beyond isolated skirmishes in the north, of the U.S.’s nightmare scenario taking shape: An escalated war that creates pressure for it to become involved.
Meanwhile, the United States is making efforts both internationally and domestically, with a long-standing history of strong support for Israel, although there has been a recent decrease in support from younger, more liberal Americans.
The act involves sending weapons to Israel and moving the USS Gerald R. Ford carrier group nearer to the ongoing conflict.
The White House is also collaborating with Israel to save numerous hostages who are being held by Palestinian militants. The U.S. government suspects that American citizens are among those who have been taken captive by Hamas in recent terrorist assaults. Sadly, there have been 14 confirmed American casualties, and there are concerns for the whereabouts of approximately 20 more individuals.
Thomas Juneau, an Iran specialist at the University of Ottawa, stated that the actions taken by the United States are meant to convey two distinct messages.
To Israel, he conveyed the message: “We support you.” To Israel’s adversaries, particularly the Hezbollah militia and Iran, a cautionary statement is made: “We [the U.S.] might participate in the conflict.”
The U.S. is considering various measures, such as actions by Congress, the administration, and the police, to address the situation domestically. In response to bomb threats at Utah synagogues, the FBI is enhancing its monitoring at Jewish sites.
Aaron David Miller, a former U.S. Middle East negotiator, expressed optimism that a broader multinational war will be avoided. Iran, he said, likely has no interest in an escalating conflict that pits it directly against Israel, and risks pulling in the Americans.
However, Miller forecasted a period of intense violence between Israelis and Palestinians, and unfortunately, there is not much that the U.S. can do to alter this situation.
Over the weekend, the former State Department official informed CBC News that the situation will deteriorate further before improving.
To be honest, American influence is not extensive.
He stated that achieving diplomatic peace requires three essential elements: two parties that are willing and capable of negotiating, a genuine sense of shared urgency, and a mutually agreed-upon objective.
Miller stated that there are currently no circumstances in which an Israeli government, labeled as extreme right-wing, and the Palestinian organization Hamas, which he referred to as “brutal” and “savage,” share any common ground.
“I see no way the United States will be able to shape and affect that.”
From the beginning, the United States has provided support to Israel.
The United States has been Israel’s most significant and enduring ally, being the initial nation to acknowledge the establishment of the Jewish state a mere 11 minutes following its inception in 1948.
Americans already supply Israel with just under one-fifth of its military funding and have a longstanding policy of selling their best, newest military equipment to Israel first.
Congress is now weighing additional aid for Israel’s military, possibly as part of a broader legislative package to help pass new Ukraine funding. Top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, has proposed a series of new sanctions against Iran.
It is highly likely that political sentiment in the United States will favor providing further assistance to Israel.
In public opinion polls, Americans have consistently shown a greater inclination towards expressing support for Israel rather than for Palestine.
However, that support is not uniform, particularly in recent times.
Democrats, especially young ones, are increasingly expressing pro-Palestinian views and criticizing the lack of progress in achieving statehood under conservative Israeli governments. This is evident in the declining support for Israel as indicated by trend lines.
The tension within the Democratic Party was evident during a rally in Boston over the weekend. Senator Ed Markey, who identifies as progressive, faced boos when he expressed his desire for de-escalation in the Israeli conflict.
Another speaker, fellow Democrat Jake Auchincloss, was cheered at the same event for brushing off such talk: “Now is not the time for equivocation,” he added in a written statement. “Calls for de-escalation, even if well-meaning, are premature.”
However, during his speech, he mentioned a possible hindrance to U.S. support, albeit temporarily: a state of inaction in the U.S. Congress.
Turmoil in D.C.: No Congress, no ambassador
No legislation, regardless of its nature, will be passed through Congress for several days, including military funding for Israel or any other matter.
That’s because the House of Representatives is currently leaderless, in the hands of a caretaker Speaker after a rebellion last week by Republicans.
There is a backlog of diplomatic and military appointments awaiting confirmation to their positions in the Senate.
That includes the ambassador to Jerusalem.
There is currently no ambassador from the U.S. to Israel. Jack Lew, a former treasury secretary, has been nominated to take on this role. Discussions are underway to speed up his confirmation process due to political disagreements in the Senate.
Furthermore, the United States is currently facing a shortage of artillery shells. Efforts are being made to increase manufacturing due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, which has resulted in a depletion of available supplies.
Earlier this year, it was reported that the United States had relocated 300,000 shells measuring 155 millimeters from Israel to Ukraine.
As the rivalry between the U.S. and China intensifies, the focus is also shifting towards planning for potential scenarios involving a Chinese invasion in Taiwan.
Amidst ongoing developments, the United States has been attempting to facilitate a groundbreaking agreement to establish normalized relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Juneau perceives the attack by Hamas as an effort to disrupt the ongoing discussions between Saudi Arabia and Israel, aiming to provoke a retaliatory action from Israel that would further escalate tensions in the Middle East.
Juneau expressed uncertainty about the effectiveness of the plan. He mentioned that the ongoing events might influence the Saudis to establish connections with other adversaries of Iran, such as Israel.
According to him and many U.S. officials, there is no doubt that Iran has provided training and financial support to various anti-Israeli militias in the region.
“Iran refers to it as the axis of resistance, while some refer to it as the ring of fire,” stated Juneau, an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, in an interview with CBC News. “It operates on a hub and spoke model, where Iran is positioned at the core.”
The extremely unfavorable situation
It remains unclear if Iran had a specific plan in orchestrating the Hamas massacres in Israel. The Wall Street Journal states their involvement, however, officials from the United States and Israel are uncertain if the killings were ordered by Tehran.
Juneau’s current focus is the northern border of Israel.
He is keeping an eye out to see if the Hezbollah militia, based in Lebanon and armed with 200,000 advanced rockets, joins the conflict alongside Hamas, which is based in Gaza.
Until Monday, he felt encouraged by the lack of significant involvement from Hezbollah. However, during the weekend, they carried out what seemed to be a symbolic launch of rockets into the scarcely inhabited Shebaa Farms, an area of dispute near the border.
Hezbollah must consider the potential consequences of their actions, as Lebanon is currently facing a devastating economic crisis and cannot handle a definitive and overwhelming military retaliation from Israel.
Then there’s the other scenario — the one Juneau fears most, and which those above-mentioned U.S. warnings are aimed at preventing.
If that situation were to occur, Israel would face continuous assaults from multiple directions, with Iran’s approval; Israel and Iran would engage in direct combat, and there would be increasing political pressure on the U.S. to intervene.
“He mentioned that we are discussing an extremely severe situation.”