Make no mistake - the Israel-Gaza conflict is also a crisis for American diplomacy

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Israel for his second round of diplomatic talks since the October 7 attack

This isn’t just a devastating humanitarian situation for Palestinians in Gaza. And it is more than a tragedy for Israelis and the prospects of a broad peace settlement for the Jewish state. 

It is also a major crisis for American diplomacy.

The pivot to China - confronting and containing Beijing’s assertive behaviour - was the major diplomatic priority for the Biden White House. That is now looking impossible with major wars in Europe and the Middle East.

Similarly, Ukrainian military success was judged a vital American interest, as Washington sought to punish Russia for its aggression.

That is now in immediate jeopardy as US public and Congressional interest (along with the provision of American air defence and weapons systems) shifts from Ukraine to Israel.

Blinken addressed the growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza, where over 9,000 people have been killed according to the enclaves health ministry

And America faces another problem - the accusation of gross hypocrisy from leaders and populations in the global south. 

If using economic warfare and striking civilians targets amounts to appalling behaviour by Russia, condemned by the US, why is America supporting Israel in its campaign against Gaza’s basic infrastructure?

Does America see Ukrainian civilians in different terms than Palestinian civilians? Do Arab lives matter less?

All of these perceptions are shaping the increasingly desperate diplomacy of Anthony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, as he travels in the region. 

The US politician said when he looks into the eyes of Palestinian children on his television he sees his own children

This year he was hoping to be containing China, winning friends in the developing world, and ensuring Ukrainian military success. 

Instead, America’s great bet on the Middle East - that it could do a deal between Israel and the Arab World that marginalised the Palestinians - look absurd. Worse than absurd. It may have helped trigger the October 7 massacre.

America’s diplomatic priorities - and ability to win allies among developing nations - is in tatters. Everything that is unfolding is boosting China and Russia, their leaders watching with grim satisfaction from Beijing and Moscow.

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