Uncritical support for the American stance on the Israel-Hamas war will prove to be some Western governments’ downfall
Rishi Sunak’s Conservative Party is on the verge of splitting, as yet another political crisis has engulfed Britain – and over the past few weeks it has become apparent that major political parties in the West are paying a heavy price for uncritically supporting America’s latest proxy conflict in Palestine.
Prime Minister Sunak sacked Home Secretary Suella Braverman because she sought to ban pro-Palestinian protest marches. Her disagreement with the PM over this issue came hard on the heels of serious disagreements between them over other “culture war” issues, namely immigration policy and multiculturalism.
Sunak’s dismissal of Braverman and his appointment of David Cameron (now Lord David) as Foreign Secretary were desperate and ill-judged acts, of the kind to be expected from a fourth-rate politician like Sunak.
Braverman has not gone quietly. Her resignation letter accuses Sunak of incompetence, treachery and lack of principle, amongst other failings, and some Conservative MPs have already fired off letters to the 1922 Committee expressing their lack of confidence in Sunak.
The prime minister’s extraordinary decision to bring back Cameron from his richly deserved political exile simply beggars belief.
Cameron created the entire Brexit debacle, led the unsuccessful Remain campaign, helped turn Libya into a failed state, and was hell bent on invading Syria until the UK parliament stopped him. Since petulantly retiring from politics after the Brexit referendum succeeded, he has occupied his time by getting involved in shady financial deals.
Peter Hitchens, the conservative commentator, described Sunak’s actions as “an open declaration of defeat and purposelessness” – and journalist John Crace characterised Sunak and the Conservatives as “a Prime Minister and a government in a death vortex”.
Surely Sunak cannot remain prime minister for much longer, and a split within the Conservative Party now seems inevitable – with Braverman and her right-wing supporters leaving the party at some point to perhaps join forces with Nigel Farage and the Reform Party to form a new Trump-like populist movement.
Nor has Kier Starmer’s Labour Party escaped unscathed from the acute emotive divisiveness engendered by the Israel-Palestine conflict that has torn the Conservative party apart over the past week.
Starmer has had to endure a revolt from 56 of his MPs (including a number of shadow cabinet members) who strongly disagree with his unwavering support for America’s refusal to accept an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.
These Labour MPs openly defied their leader, and voted in the House of Commons in favour of a failed motion brought by the Scottish National Party (SNP) – yet another major UK party recently rent asunder by internal divisions and corruption – calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.
In Australia, bitter political divisions have also emerged over the conflict in Palestine, with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s Labor government deeply divided over the ceasefire issue (even though it formally supported America’s opposition to a truce) and coming under concerted attack from the conservative opposition parties, who uncritically support America’s position on Gaza.
The opposition has branded Labor politicians who have called for a ceasefire as antisemites, and insisted that pro-Palestinian protest marches – there have been many in major Australian cities over the past few weeks – be banned.
PM Albanese, who won an election in May last year, now finds himself in charge of a fractured government that appears increasingly unlikely to win a second term in office.
There seems to be a very strict correlation between craven support for American foreign policy and political incompetence amongst politicians in the West.
Similar bitter political divisions, accompanied by mass pro-Palestinian protest marches, have emerged recently in most Western countries, including America – and Germany, France, Austria and Hungary have now banned pro-Palestinian rallies altogether.
It is a curious circumstance that purportedly liberal democratic governments that uncritically support America’s foreign proxy conflicts find themselves curtailing free speech and the right to protest in their own countries.
Be that as it may, it is clear that the Hamas terrorist attacks on 7 October, and the Netanyahu government’s ongoing response to them, have deeply destabilised Western democracies and exacerbated deep-seated, pre-existing ideological and political divisions within them.
How has this self-destructive political chaos come about?
Palestine, unfortunately, has now become a classic “culture war” issue in the West, as a result of almost all Western governments uncritically supporting the blank cheque that the Biden administration has given to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition government in respect of Gaza.
Rational debate on the topic has become virtually impossible in the West, with both sides hurling emotive charges of ”antisemitism” (redefined so as to encompass any support for the Palestinian cause or any criticism of Netanyahu’s actions) and “genocide” at each other, whilst at the same time ignoring the complex historical context that gave rise to the current phase of the conflict.
In fact, when the UN secretary general recently pointed out that the October 7 attacks had an historical background – a demonstrably true statement – the Israeli Ambassador to the UN demanded that he be sacked immediately. So much for rational debate.
It is inevitable that a ceasefire in Gaza will have to take place, and a political settlement will have to be negotiated at some point. It is most unlikely, however, that the Netanyahu government will be in power long enough to negotiate such a settlement.
Recent polls in Israel show that support for Netanyahu is collapsing, and media outlets within Israel that previously supported him are now calling for him to step aside – not only because he failed to prevent the Hamas terrorist attacks on October 7, but because he has no realistic strategy for negotiating a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert – who, unlike Netanyahu, is committed to a two-state solution to be negotiated between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government – said recently in an interview with ABC in Australia that Netanyahu “has to be fired… he is not fit to govern, and has no strategy to work towards peace”.
Olmert – who is a fierce opponent of Hamas – has accused Netanyahu of empowering the militant group since becoming prime minister by refusing to negotiate with the Palestinian Authority – on the grounds that Netanyahu, just like Hamas, refuses to accept that a negotiated settlement between Israel and the Palestinians is possible.
Olmert has also condemned Netanyahu for refusing to distinguish between Hamas terrorists and innocent civilians in Gaza, and causing international support for Israel (he means in the West because such support does not exist elsewhere) to rapidly dissipate since the October 7 terrorist attacks.
Olmert’s criticisms of Netanyahu are substantially correct. Members of Netanyahu’s government have recently stated that Israel intends to occupy Gaza after the present conflict ends, and that the two million Palestinians that reside in Gaza should be driven out of the territory.
US President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have made clear that such strategic aims are completely unacceptable, but nevertheless continue to allow Netanyahu to do as he pleases in Gaza – at least for the time being.
At some point, however, America will withdraw its support for the Netanyahu government, as it did with its other local proxy regimes in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq – when it became clear that its misguided forays into those countries were going to end in embarrassing defeats.
The long-term prospects for local proxy regimes in America’s foreign conflicts, if history is a reliable guide, are decidedly grim.
Netanyahu’s continuing bombardment of Gaza has now unified the entire Arab world against Israel – including Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Turkey, countries that had recently sought rapprochement with Israel – and at some point America will be compelled to come to terms with this new political realignment in the Middle East.
In a book titled “Social Origins of Democracy and Dictatorship” published in 1966, as the Vietnam war was escalating out of control, Barrington Moore Jr characterised American domestic and foreign policy as an irrational combination of “repression at home and aggression abroad”.
Nothing much has changed in that regard. But what has changed over the past six decades is that the political, economic and social stability that characterised America and Western liberal democracies in the mid 1960s has completely collapsed.
It has been destroyed by rapacious global elites that have imposed illiberal, irrational woke ideologies on their citizens, thereby creating the so-called “culture wars” and provoking a powerful populist political backlash that they are either unable or unwilling to control.
In the process they have destabilised the countries that they now govern with the assistance of fourth-rate politicians like Rishi Sunak – who meekly do their bidding, and who they replace these days with monotonous regularity.
And behind this unedifying global spectacle stands a bloated and declining American empire, still committed to promoting proxy foreign conflicts – notwithstanding the debacles it has created in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria in recent decades.
Major Western political parties and politicians now have a clear choice: they can stop uncritically supporting America’s disastrous proxy foreign wars, or risk being torn apart by the bitter internal conflicts that such ill-judged backing inevitably gives rise to.
President Macron of France is the only Western leader who seems to appreciate this.
Recently Macron bravely called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, and strongly condemned Netanyahu’s ongoing killing of innocent civilians and blatant disregard for international and humanitarian law.
Whether or not other political leaders in the West will have the courage and intelligence to heed President Macron’s example is extremely doubtful. But events in the UK last week make perfectly clear the fate that awaits those politicians who refuse to do so.