What is the moral judgement you make of someone who stands by and allows children to be massacred in their beds? What kind of monster, even if they could not hope to stop the limbs of those children from being ripped apart, would not even try? Not even protest? An even harder question: How should we characterise an even worse kind of person, the kind who had the power to stop it, but refused?
It is hard to think of the word. But we know who the person is. It is Joe Biden. Forty-sixth president of the United States. Saviour of the republic. Leader of the #resistance against Trumpist fascism. The “lesser evil” that every leftist who opposed him was berated for not voting for.
Joe Biden is not a fraud. He is the person he has always been. The fraud is the people who have argued that he is something different, the most progressive president in US history, as he promised to be in his election campaign and as some liberals are still calling him. No, he is just like all the rest of them: a willing instrument of imperial power, a justifier of any crime, any injustice, as long as it serves the empire.
“My expectation and hope are that this will be closing down sooner than later”, Biden told reporters at the White House at the beginning of Israel’s bombardment of Gaza. “But Israel has a right to defend itself when you have thousands of rockets flying into your territory.”
Translation: a whole bunch more kids might be murdered—and their fathers and mothers too—but it won’t go on forever. And in the meantime, Israel has the right to murder whoever it wants. When pushed by reporters as to whether Palestinians as well as Israelis had a right to defend themselves, White House press secretary Jen Psaki refused to answer the question directly.
At least 254 Palestinians were murdered in Gaza, including 66 children, by the time Israel’s murderous bombing campaign ended. Biden admitted quite openly that he had no problem with this horrifying death toll. “There has not been a significant overreaction”, he said, in response to a press question about the gross asymmetry of the conflict.
There are lots of people—a shrinking number, but still a lot—who won’t side with the Palestinians because they are bamboozled by the media’s misrepresentation of the battle, or because they know that Jews suffered horrifically in the Holocaust and accept that this gives Israel the right to act with impunity against Palestinians.
Those people are terribly wrong. But on a scale measuring affronts to human morality, the problems with these views pale in comparison to Joe Biden’s reasons for uncritically backing Israeli terror. In the US establishment, support for Israel is pure politics.
Biden knows that all the rhetoric about Hamas rockets is a pack of lies. He knows that Israel is an occupying power that has ground the Palestinian people into the dust for three quarters of a century. He knows that this latest blitzkrieg started only because Benjamin Netanyahu couldn’t form a government, was facing jail for corruption charges and desperately needed a way out.
Biden knows that the US supports Israel because it has proven itself the only truly reliable outpost of US power in the Middle East. He knows that every US government protects Israel when it commits crimes against humanity not only because, as long as Israel is strong, US power in the Middle East is also strong, but also because the US military industrial complex makes billions of dollars supplying Israel with its weaponry of death, and because the Zionist lobby—Jewish, secular and Christian—is closely interwoven with the upper echelons the US ruling class, so much so that no establishment politician can succeed if they do not prove their fealty to Israel.
Biden knows all this, and he thinks it good reason to allow the massacre of children. Say what you will about Trump—at least he was more honest about these sorts of things.
If Joe Biden had wanted, he could have stopped it. A single phone call on the day the bombing started, saying that US military funding and political support for Israel would stop if the killing did not, would have silenced the rockets and the bombs in an instant.
But Joe Biden—the man Americans were told they had to vote for as the last line of defence against fascist authoritarianism and violent nationalism—did nothing. Worse than nothing. He defended the murderers, justified the slaughter. His words may be more civil, but how can anyone say Biden is less of a monster than Trump?