As the Gaza conflict enters its second week, analysts have observed a shift in United States President Joe Biden's approach, where he is increasingly resembling a wartime leader, delivering a "performative" display of support and strength for Israel.
President Biden's recent visit to Israel, aimed at endorsing the country's military campaign in Gaza despite mounting calls for a ceasefire, has not gone unnoticed. In his remarks during the visit, he proclaimed, "I'm here to tell you that terrorists will not win. Freedom will win," echoing sentiments reminiscent of former President George W. Bush's speeches following the 9/11 attacks in 2001.
Experts assert that President Biden's actions are not merely guided by international affairs but are also shaped by domestic politics, particularly in the context of the upcoming 2024 elections. The President appears to be navigating a delicate path to avoid Republican criticism that could portray him as "weak."
George Bisharat, a professor at the University of California College of the Law, San Francisco, suggests that Biden's handling of the Gaza conflict, including his visit to Israel, carries an element of political theater. Bisharat points out, "This is 'Sleepy Joe' proving that he's awake, that he's an expert on foreign policy," alluding to former President Donald Trump's nickname for Biden.
Bisharat notes that foreign policy often takes a back seat in U.S. elections, with voters typically focusing on domestic concerns. However, during wartime, the dynamics change. The current context provides President Biden with an opportunity to demonstrate strength and resolve without incurring the tangible costs typically associated with military engagements, such as the loss of American soldiers' lives. This dual approach attempts to strike a balance between showing unwavering support for a longstanding ally and addressing the demands of his domestic audience.