In the wake of a harrowing weekend in Israel, the global community is left questioning the ability of the politically divided United States to present a unified and cogent response to the escalating instability. As the House of Representatives fell into chaos last week, voices across the political spectrum along with independent experts cautioned about the potential effects this political unrest could cast on the international stage. They could hardly anticipate how swiftly the dysfunction in Washington would impact the country’s reaction to a significant global crisis.
Israel has been shaken by dreadful Hamas attacks that resulted in hundreds of civilian deaths, forcing the Middle East on the brink of a new surge of violence. This upheaval ensues after a period of relative calm, during which former US presidents have strived to withdraw American troops from the region.
Israel’s reaction to the havoc wreaked by a major Iranian supporter has increased the chances of a broader regional war that would further disturb an international order already shaken by the war in Ukraine and China’s overt antagonism towards Western power.
Responding to such a fraught milieu calls for a composed, united, and strategic US reaction with broad political support. However, current American politics marred by internal extremism, threats to democracy, and the hyper-politicization of foreign policy, makes a unified front seem an insuperable challenge.
US lawmakers’ quick attempts to express support for Israel and expedite financial aid its government might be thwarted following the weakened grip of the Republican Party in the House, a fallout of Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s recent removal by his party’s extreme factions.
The US is also grappling unprecedented electoral uncertainties. A president facing plummeting approval ratings and questions regarding his age might be challenged by a potential Republican candidate who may well be indicted for a felony come Election Day.
Amidst this domestic strife, globetrotting America’s political squabble has left uncomfortable voids in the geopolitical arena. The besieged House projects an image of a democratic system it espouses internationally, in shambles. Should a delay occur in installing a new speaker and establishing a functioning majority in the House, the impact could be grave.
The US President has the power to immediately send military aid to Israel, who has sought Washington’s help for precision-guided munition kits and more interceptors for the Iron Dome air defense system.
Increasingly, the perception abroad is of an America hindered by its internal political issues from leading effectively on the global stage. For adversaries in Beijing, Moscow, and Tehran, this situation is advantageous as they aim to influence US elections and would benefit from an American democratic failure.
The crippling Hamas attacks on Israel, akin to the September 11 attacks in the US in terms of bloodshed per capita, could potentially alter the world’s trajectory. Besides the staggering human loss also experienced by Palestinian civilians in Gaza, strategic repercussions of the attack would inevitably reverberate within the US.
If the attack is found to be orchestrated by Iran via Hamas, pressure on Israel to retaliate directly against Iran will intensify, possibly igniting a larger regional conflict that could involve the US.
This dire situation in Israel presents President Biden with another formative foreign policy challenge, adding to his plate which already bears the Ukrainian war and a dawning confrontation with China. These global crises may impact the upcoming elections, as the perception of American power dwindling under Biden’s rule gains traction both domestically and internationally.
The politicization of these global trials is not confined to Israel or Ukraine. America’s relationship with the Pacific superpower, China, became contentious after a Chinese spy balloon drifted over US soil earlier this year, triggering an exceptional surge of Republican fury towards President Biden. The insinuation by some Republicans that American funds for medical supplies in Iran could ultimately finance terrorism further adds to this tense political scene.
Unless the US can navigate these political hurdles and project a united front, it is likely to see its influence wane and interests threatened. It remains to be seen how America will respond to these challenges and shape its role in our increasingly interconnected world.