View from Delhi: Israel is in critical need of new thinking

11:40 24.04.2024 •

Biden explains his diplomatic initiative to Netanyahu

The United States’ diplomatic initiative to issue a joint statement condemning Iran on its “Attack on the State of Israel” has ended in fiasco, as there were hardly any takers for it from outside of the western bloc of nations, writes M.K. Bhadrakumar, Indian Ambassador and prominent international observer.

This is a crushing blow to American self-esteem. The unkindest cut of all is that Turkey, an important NATO power and a West Asian powerhouse, whom President Biden is personally wooing lately, refused to sign up on the joint statement. 

The 8 defectors from the Global Majority who complied with the US diktat are two mavericks each from Latin America and the Eurasian region, South Korea and three Pacific island nations.

The entire Africa, West Asia, Central Asia, South Asia and the ASEAN region refused to associate with the US initiative! Of course, not a single Muslim country would touch the joint statement with a barge pole. 

This tells a humiliating story of US isolation in the UN. The international community understands fully well the hypocrisy and the notorious doublespeak that characterises American diplomacy. In the emerging multipolar world, this awareness will inevitably translate as the propensity of the Global Majority to cherrypick.

The bottom line is that Iran did not attack Israel. Iran instead retaliated to a blatant attack by Israel against its sovereignty in violation of international law and the UN Charter, which was tantamount to an act of war.

More important, Iran’s retaliation was restricted to Israeli military targets that were involved in the Damascus attack on April 1 and was patently aimed at demonstrating its deterrent capability in future to discourage Israel from climbing the escalation ladder any further — and, all this while taking care to avoid civilian casualties. 

Tehran publicised the raison d’être of its move against Israel and kept world powers informed about it much in advance, including, ironically, the Biden Administration with the full awareness that the US would alert Israel.

Therefore, the most charitable explanation that can be given to this idiotic move by the Biden Administration to drum up international  condemnation of Iran is that President Biden’s tail is on fire in the campaign circuit in the US and is nowhere to be seen Iran punctures the Jewish state’s aura of invincibility anchored on American military prowess.

The big question is how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will view Biden’s initiative — and, more importantly, US’ desperate attempt to block Palestinian statehood bid at the UN Security Council without casting a veto. 

Apparently, Netanyahu asserted in the presence in Tel Aviv of the UK foreign secretary David Cameron and German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock that Israel will indeed climb the escalation ladder — showing the middle finger at the two visiting politicians who were on the other hand, bending over backward to show solidarity with Israel as it faces the moment of truth. What is secret behind such reckless audacity on the part of Netanyahu?

Clearly, Netanyahu, a seasoned fighter in the dark and vicious jungle of Israeli politics, is dancing to several tunes. First and foremost, he is playing to the domestic gallery to assuage the hawkish sentiments of public opinion, especially the ultra-nationalists in his coalition.

Both Cameron and Baerbock reportedly urged Netanyahu to show restraint, warning that any additional direct hostilities against Iran might trigger a regional war.  Both visiting dignitaries acknowledged publicly Israel’s right to make its own decisions. On his part, Netanyahu also expressed the hope that any Israeli retaliation to Tehran’s retaliation of April 13 would be executed “in a way that is smart as well as tough and also does as little as possible to escalate this conflict.”

At any rate, Times of Israel reported earlier, quoting Israeli television, that “Netanyahu shelved pre-prepared plans for retaliation against Iran’s weekend barrage,” after speaking with Biden. The Kan public broadcaster quoted a senior source, “The response won’t be what was planned any longer, diplomatic sensitivities won out. There will be a response, but it seems it will be different from what was planned.” The TV noted that the comment likely pointed to a weaker Israeli response than what had been approved.

The heart of the matter is that Tehran has given a strong message that it has formidable strategic capability in reserve to directly attack Israel. In reality, the western/Israeli propaganda that nearly all the projectiles fired at Israel were interjected and “there was little damage,” blah, blah, is irrelevant.

Israel is in critical need of new thinking to douse the “rings of fire” lit by the late Iranian general Qassem Soleimani that are closing in on it, which are endemic to the new era of hybrid wars.


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