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America, a Compromised Superpower

1st of March 2024


In recent years, America’s moral standing on the global stage has been a subject of intense debate, especially in the wake of the Russian and Ukrainian conflict. This moral high ground, once seemingly unassailable, has come under scrutiny following developments after October 7th, a date marking a significant shift in the geopolitics of the Middle East.

On this day, the balance of power was visibly disturbed, leading Western nations to rally around Israel, offering unwavering military and moral support. This collective stance was prompted by a perception of the existential threat faced by Israel, necessitating international backing to restore equilibrium. However, the narrative surrounding the nature of Israel’s military operations has been contentious. Official statements have consistently portrayed these strikes as targeted actions against Hamas. The scale and nature of the operations, characterised by extensive grounding and blockades of Gaza, suggest a broader target: the Palestinian people themselves. This sentiment was echoed in the words of Israel’s president, who, in the aftermath of October 7th, implicated an “entire nation” in the conflict, a statement that has further polarised views on the matter.

The conflict has increasingly been viewed through a lens of disparity: the military might of Israel against the besieged people of Palestine in Gaza. As atrocities unfolded and were broadcast globally, the initial wave of support for Israel’s actions began to ebb. Countries around the world started to advocate for a ceasefire, openly criticising the military strategy employed by Israel. South Africa, taking a moral stand, escalated the issue to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), accusing Israel of genocide—a charge that significantly heightened international scrutiny.

In the face of growing dissent, America’s position remained notably unchanged. The U.S. continued to supply Israel with extensive support, seemingly indifferent to the evolving global consensus. This unwavering stance has not been without domestic repercussions. In the U.S., the Muslim and Arab communities have expressed strong opposition to the Biden administration’s policy, signalling potential electoral consequences. More broadly, America’s image has suffered, with perceptions shifting towards viewing the U.S. as an enabler of conflict, undermining its global influence and moral authority. Critics argue that American politicians are not acting in the nation’s best interest, with some going as far as labelling America a “violent hypocrite” or an accomplice in what they perceive as genocide.

Despite the clear damage to America’s global standing and the divisive effect on its domestic politics, the support for Israel remains steadfast. This unwavering support, seemingly at odds with global opinion and the principles of international law, suggests a deeper alignment of interests, influenced by the powerful Israel lobby and pro-Zionist factions within the U.S. These groups do not distinguish between American and Israeli interests, viewing the two nations as inextricably linked.

The consequences of this policy stance are profound. Four nations in the Middle East—Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE, and Iran—have sought to join the BRICS consortium, signalling a move away from U.S. hegemony. This shift underscores a broader realignment in international relations, challenging America’s ability to influence global affairs.

Amidst this geopolitical reevaluation, the story of Aaron Bushnell, an American citizen and veteran of the U.S. army, adds a deeply personal layer to the discourse. Bushnell’s act of setting himself on fire outside the Israeli embassy in protest serves as a stark illustration of the disconnect between the American people and their government’s actions.

His choice to wear his uniform during this tragic act of dissent underscores a profound message: a visual metaphor for America’s willingness to sacrifice its own values—and, symbolically, its citizens—at the altar of its alliance with Israel. This incident not only highlights the extent of domestic opposition to U.S. foreign policy but also serves as a somber reminder of the personal toll extracted from those who feel betrayed by their own nation’s actions.

It is apt for protesters to call for America to be “free from the sea to the sea,” echoing a desire for the U.S. to liberate itself from policies and alliances that compromise its values and standing in the world. This phrase not only captures the longing for Palestinian freedom but also symbolises the broader call for America to adhere to principles of justice and liberty universally, without double standards.

The question then arises: Has America’s foreign policy been anything but a pursuit of narrow interests, cloaked in the rhetoric of moral superiority? The evidence, particularly in the context of the Gaza conflict, suggests a troubling disconnect between America’s stated values and its actions on the international stage.