When it comes to the Gaza war, there should be no distinction between the US and Israel, who should be seen as a single geopolitical entity
Alex Lo | SCMP
As expected, the United States backed Israel and single-handedly killed a United Nations Security Council draft resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.
With the exception of the United Kingdom, which abstained, the other 13 council members all voted in support. The US could have abstained, and the resolution would have passed. That would have shown the world that the US was still serious about humanitarianism, even if it was only for the Palestinians.
Israel would likely have ignored it and continued with its merciless war on Gaza. But with the veto, Washington has reinforced the message to the world that its truly “no limits’ relationship comes with a blank cheque for Israel to do whatever it likes with complete impunity.
In calling for the urgent vote, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres told the council, “Nowhere in Gaza is safe. We are at a breaking point [and] the situation is simply becoming untenable.”
International aid agencies now warn the occupied territory is at high risk of famine.
At this point, when it comes to this crisis, there ought be no distinction made between the US and Israel. Instead, it should be considered a single political entity, with Israel in the driver seat, and the US as its unconditional backer.
It’s worth considering the explanation offered by Robert Wood, the US alternate representative at the UN, for the veto. It’s truly one for the ages.
He told the council: “The resolution retains a call for an unconditional ceasefire – this is not only unrealistic but dangerous; it will simply leave Hamas in place, able to regroup and repeat what it did on 7 October. As long as Hamas clings to its ideology of destruction, any ceasefire is at best temporary.”
In other words, there will be no peace until Hamas is eliminated, a goal which most independent analysts consider unrealistic. Who knows how many Palestinians will be left by the time Israel declares victory?
But Wood even claimed the US veto was ultimately for the good of the Palestinians. “Any ceasefire that leaves Hamas in control of Gaza could deny Palestinian civilians a chance to build something better for themselves,” he said.
Seriously, when US-made 2,000-pound bombs are wiping out your entire family, you don’t have the luxury to plan for the future!
People sometimes fret about the so-called Tacitus Trap. They ought to remember more often what may be called the Tacitus Peace: “They made a wasteland and called it peace.”
That is the “peace” that Israel and the US are bringing about. Given the apocalyptic landscape across Gaza, there ought to be no doubt that they have already succeeded, whatever may be the ultimate fate of Hamas.
The historical context to invoking the latest failed vote – the third attempt at a Gaza peace plan killed by the US in the UN – is illuminating.
Guterres involved Article 99 of the UN Charter, sometimes called “the nuclear option”, which enables the secretary general to initiate a Security Council discussion on any issue that “may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security”.
The article is rarely cited. But in his memoirs, secretary general U Thant claimed he came close to invoking it during Pakistan’s genocidal military campaign against former East Pakistan, the Bengali-majority province. The campaign’s failure ultimately resulted in the creation of Bangladesh. Washington not only supported Pakistan under Yahya Khan but also provided weapons to his military.
The mass killings only stopped after India militarily intervened. As argued by Gary Bass in The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger, and a Forgotten Genocide, the US was fully complicit.
Now, history repeats itself. But even as Article 99 was invoked, there wouldn’t be any country like India coming to the rescue of the Palestinians leading to the creation of an independent state. Rather one half of their homeland is becoming uninhabitable.
The US has often been accused of being hypocritical and exercising double standards. But when it comes to sponsoring foreign state terrorism, it’s been nothing but consistent.