When the Biden administration came into office, it was expected that it will be able to scale down involvement in direct military operations overseas, that had been draining their economy, military personnels and resources in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan has been a foreign policy priority for the USA government since 2001, beginning with the hunt for Osama bin Laden in what can be described as the ‘first stage’ of War on Terror. Later, it invested in advocating and advancing democracy, liberal values, education and governance in the region, that can be termed as ‘second stage’ of the war.
After the chaotic and sudden withdrawal from Afghanistan, few expected the Biden administration to commit the USA into yet another war, this time in the Russian-Ukraine War. The US has committed billions in military and other support; however, the war has protracted with no end in sight and less optimistic is a potential victory for Ukraine.
Even before America could pull itself out of this tight spot: either distance itself or initiate a peaceful peace process in the region, it was yet again pulled into the Israel-Hamas war and subsequent Red Sea Crisis. This puts America in a dilemma where it finds itself in a predicament: the predicament of being involved in a perpetual state of war.
The Ukraine War is a major issue in the ongoing US Presidential campaigns. While most of the Republican candidates are in favour of continued support, former American President, Donald Trump, opposes ‘too much’ support in lieu of his claim that American allies are falling short in comparison to American aid packages that include equipment, ammunition, and arms. He argued that it is not leading to rapid depletion of American military stockpiles.
DeSantis is another candidate who doesn’t consider Ukraine-Russian War a national security priority. On the other hand, Chris Christie, Tim Scott, Mike Pence, Nikki Haley, Will Hurd and Asa Hutchinson support the continued ammunition and equipment support to Ukraine.
They believe the Ukraine-Russia war could have potential geo-political implications if Russia wins the war. In the event Ukraine loses the war, Russia could potentially attack American allies and NATO members in Europe.
They are wary of Russian expansionism and believe that its military have to be curbed lest it acts as an impetus for others states like China, Iran and North Korea to pursue similar policies that could hamper wider interests of international community.
Amid tensions with Russia in the wake of the Ukraine war and an expanding horizon of competition with China, and domestic economic troubles, USA was drawn into another geo-political conflict in West Asia.
The Hamas-Israel war which has been going on since Oct. 7, 2023 when Hamas after an unprecedented attack on Israel’s “Iron Wall’ went on to take 240 hostages and killed 1200 civilians. In response, Isarel in what it recently at International Court of Justice, described as ‘right to defend’ itself against Hamas’ genocide launched an attack, in the process displacing 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza and killing around 23,000 civilians including a large number of women and children.
The USA which has extended support to Israel since its creation in 1948 continue to supply ammunition, aid and other military resources. This has led to a dilemma for the USA since its support has led to backlash from international community.
Concerns about civilian deaths especially of innocent children and women has led to protests not just across the globe but even within the US. There are also geopolitical and diplomatic consequences for the US as the regional partners are watching its actions closely and questioning its role in initiating ceasefire through mediation.
The US finds itself once again at the heart of the West Asian geopolitical conflict. The region which has been volatile since decades is receiving increasing attention especially since US-UK alliance has attacked the Yemen’s Houthi forces targeting their missiles and drone capabilities on night of January 12, 2024.
They attacked 60 targets in 28 sites which led to avowal from the Houthi of counter strikes. Intelligence and logistical support are being provided by Canada, Australia, Bahrain and Netherlands. These attacks have the capacity to escalate the conflict in the region.
The US as the leader of what is popularly refereed as the ‘Free World’ has assured Israel of its support since the beginning of the conflict. It’s assistance to Israel has been cited as the reason for Houthi’s attacks on commercial, merchant and military ships in the Red Sea by Houthi forces.
While the Houthis represent their maritime campaign as response to plight of Palestinians, they have their own agenda of increasing their power in the region, which cannot be overlooked. South Korea, Germany, New Zealand and Denmark have extended support to the US-UK attacks while France, Italy and Spain have abstained from getting involved due to their fear of wider escalation in the region.
How the war concludes is yet to be seen but it cannot be denied that US offering aid to Israel is vastly different from American direct military involvement in the region.
The US launching direct missile attacks may further escalate the Red Sea Crisis, which has been described as a spillover of Israel-Hamas war. These attacks, which may be interpreted as USA joining the West Asian conflict will make the process of de-escalation, which is a pressing priority, more difficult.
Apart from the catastrophic consequences this decision may have for the larger international community, Biden’s decision to launch the missiles have been called into question citing it as an unconstitutional act. The American constitution authorises the American Congress to declare war or attack another state. But Biden’s decision has the makings for entangling the US into West Asian conflict for a long-haul.
Though the Red Sea Crisis can be described as more of a spillover of Israel-Hamas war, it remains the first area of conflict where USA has directly intervened by launching missiles on Yemen’s Houthi forces.
The need of the hour is strategic and diplomatic intervention by American led alliance. Apart from increasing strains on US treasury which will eventually affect its economy, military and intelligence resources, this escalation will destabilise the West Asian region. Highest priority for Global North states with US as their leader is to reevaluate their policies and practice caution in order to maintain stability in the region.
Immediate ceasefire and two state solution that addresses both Israel and Palestine’s concerns about territorial integrity and security have to be initiated. US could also take the major regional players into confidence including Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar and Egypt.
Unless US take cognizance of this, it may continue to be mired in wars of Europe and West Asia with little wriggle room to extract itself from wars where it is not directly involved. This will only lead to the US experiencing at second-hand a ‘perpetual’ state of war. Modern Diplomacy.