For only the second time in his presidency, U.S. president Joe Biden took to the nation’s airwaves during a primetime Oval Office address to the country on Thursday evening. Fresh from his whirlwind visit to Israel, Biden strongly pushed for aid to the Jewish state in its ongoing war against Hamas terrorists.
He also used his fifteen-minute speech to call for additional military aid for Ukraine in its war against Russia.
The United States already provides billions of dollars in military aid to Israel – including an annual appropriation of $3.8 billion – and has pumped billions more into Ukraine over the past year-and-a-half as it subsidizes an ongoing proxy war against its former Cold War adversary.
“We’re facing an inflection point in history, one of those moments where the decisions we make today are going to determine the future for decades to come,” Biden said. “American leadership is what holds the world together. American alliances are what keeps us, America, safe.”
In drawing a bead on Palestinian militants, Biden also took a shot at Russian president Vladimir Putin.
“Hamas, (and) Putin aim to annihilate neighboring democracies,” Biden said. “We cannot and will not let terrorists like Hamas and tyrants like Putin win. I refuse to let that happen.”
“The Jewish people know, perhaps better than anyone, that there’s no limit to the depravity of people who want to inflict pain on others in Israel,” Biden said.
As for those on the receiving end of Israel’s counterattack, Biden said he was “heartbroken by the tragic loss of Palestinian life” in the aftermath of Hamas’ massive sneak attack on October 7, 2023.
Israeli officials say 1,400 of their citizens were killed and another 200 taken captive during Hamas’ attack. More than 4,600 Israelis were wounded. The Hamas-led government in Gaza estimates the death toll of its citizens from Israel’s ongoing counterattack totals approximately 3,800 – with another 12,000-14,000 wounded.
Though he tried to weave together U.S. interests in two separate wars, Biden was sometimes hard to follow as his remarks bounced from one struggle to another until finally proclaiming, “Hamas and Putin represent different threads. But they share this in common: They both want neighboring democracy completely annihilated.”
Of particular significance was what Biden didn’t say in his televised remarks. He did not issue a warning to the Islamic Republic of Iran – either directly or implicitly – to stay out of the fighting. Many Mideast observers see the Islamic Republic as a motivating force in escalating regional tensions.
‘Iran is supporting Russia in Ukraine and it’s supporting Hamas and other terrorist groups in the region,” Biden said. ‘We’ll continue to hold them accountable.”
He declined to elaborate on how he intended to hold them accountable, though.
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Biden’s GOP rivals wasted little time in assailing him on the Iranian question – accusing him of pandering to the militant theocracy.
Florida governor Ron DeSantis also slammed Biden for pursuing a policy of appeasement with Iran.
“Beginning on day one when I become president, the days of America appeasing Iran will be over,” DeSantis wrote on X.
Biden’s address was a precursor to a massive foreign aid package being sent to the U.S. Congress. The White House is putting the finishing touches on a package that could carry a price tag as high as $100 billion. Initial reports indicate the lion’s share of the proposal, about $60 billion, would go to Ukraine, with Israel receiving $10 billion. Money for the U.S.-Mexico border would also be included.
Biden isn’t just sending (or proposing to send) money to the Middle East. At least 2,000 Marines were en route to Gaza this week – with another 2,000 military personnel put on standby for deployment. The naval battle group linked to the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) – which recently deployed in northern Europe – has seen its eastern Mediterranean deployment extended. Meanwhile, Pentagon officials ordered a second carrier group affixed to the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) to the region in the aftermath of Hamas’ attack on Israel.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
J. Mark Powell is an award-winning former TV journalist, government communications veteran, and a political consultant. He is also an author and an avid Civil War enthusiast. Got a tip or a story idea for Mark? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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