Biden warns Israel about future US support in war

Biden warns Israel about future US support in war April 5, 2024

In the wake of the Israeli air strike that killed seven aid workers in Gaza, President Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke yesterday to discuss the future of the war, including the role America will play in Iran’s proxy war. Over the course of that tense conversation, Biden threatened “to condition future support for Israel on how it addresses his concerns about civilian casualties and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, attempting for the first time to leverage American aid to influence the conduct of the war against Hamas.”

And while Biden stopped short of directly stating that he would cut Israel off from further munitions and aid, the implication was clear: his concerns over Israel’s present course can no longer be ignored.

The relationship between the two leaders has steadily frayed over recent months and, given Israel’s dwindling list of allies, it can ill-afford to lose the United States. That fact has been made even more apparent by the escalating tensions with Iran and its “Axis of Resistance,” which essentially constitutes the legion of proxy armies through which they have attacked Israel for decades.

And those tensions have reached new heights in the wake of Israel’s deadly attack on the building next to Iran’s embassy in Damascus, Syria earlier this week.

A fundamental shift

While Israel’s latest war with Hamas in Gaza has lasted for nearly half a year now, the attack on Monday was one of its most aggressive moves to date and could mark a fundamental shift in how the rest of this conflict will play out.

You see, everyone knows that Iran is funding, supporting, and guiding various groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Houthis as they repeatedly attack Israel and its American allies. However, prior to Monday, Iran had remained relatively free from the consequences of those actions. The puppets rather than the puppet master took the brunt of Israel’s response.

That is no longer the case.

Three of the highest-ranking members of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), along with four other IRGC officers, were killed in the strike.

And while global leaders from the Middle East and the UN were quick to denounce the attack given its proximity to Iran’s embassy, Gabriel Noronha—a senior fellow at the Jewish Institute for National Security of America and a former special advisor on Iran in the State Department—noted that “If you’re having a bunch of top IRGC generals meeting, you’ve made it a military facility, not a diplomatic facility.”

He went on to add that Monday’s strike could be a sign that “Israel is starting to expand the envelope and say, ‘We’re going to hold the whole proxy network accountable, and we’re going to hold Iran accountable for the actions of its proxies.’”

And according to recent reports, Israel has made America aware of that shift as well, promising that “whoever harms us or plans to harm us, we will harm them.”

Such an approach would be a departure from how the war has played out to date and, if the past is any indication, the way that the United States would prefer for it to play out going forward. After all, despite repeated attacks on US bases by some of those same proxies, the American response never rose to the level of going after the IRGC.

Given our nation’s history—both in recent years and going back decades—of preferring proxy wars to open conflict, it’s understandable that Biden and others may not want to see that position change.

America’s approach to war

You see, the United States has not officially been at war with anyone since World War II.

Those who fought and died in Vietnam, Korea, the Middle East, and across the globe in the decades since would certainly—and rightly—say that they have been to war. However, the Constitution states that only Congress has the power to declare war, and they have not done that since 1942.

Instead, our government—on both sides of the aisle—has grown increasingly reliant on supporting others as they fight, either on our behalf or for the same principles that might otherwise lead us to engage more directly.

That reality is at least part of why Iran’s deputy UN ambassador, Zahra Ershadi, said in response to Monday’s attack that “the United States is responsible for all crimes committed by the Israeli regime,” even though in this particular instance it does not appear that we had any part in the planning or execution of the bombing.

Ultimately, it’s rare for proxy wars not to escalate into something more, and that could be what we’re seeing in real-time across the Middle East.

Of course, the danger inherent to taking on such a role does not necessarily mean that we are wrong to do so. Whether it’s our support of Ukraine in its fight against Russia or Israel in its battle against Iran and its proxies, there are good reasons to take the position that we have. But it would be naïve to assume that such conflicts will never grow into something more.

And, far too often, we see a similar sense of naivety play out in our walk with God as well.

A proxy war approach to sin

It can be tempting, at times, to treat sin the same way nations tend to view proxy wars. We act as though as long as we don’t directly engage in the sin, we haven’t committed it.

However, Jesus holds us to a different standard.

Six times in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus took the typical way his culture—and ours—approached sin and went deeper to address the root causes rather than just the fruit that they bore. And whether it’s anger, lust, or any of the others mentioned in Matthew 5, he calls us to recognize the danger inherent to tolerating sin, even if we never act on it. The God who made us knows how easy it can be for us to cross that line when we make a habit of going right up to it.

So while there may not be much we can do to change what’s going on in Israel—though prayer is a great and necessary place to start—we can reject the temptation to take a proxy war approach to combating the sin in our own lives.

Which of your sins fits that description today?

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