Biden’s Style

His predecessor Trump, almost certainly a contender in next year’s election, uses direct and open threats, with no political solution for the affected

The situation in Gaza in the war between Israel and the Palestinian organization Hamas includes an important chapter concerning U.S. President Joe Biden’s diplomatic style.

It is an old way of working, perhaps even old-fashioned in these times of political Manichaeism, when presumed political actors in many countries seem to believe that negotiation is a sign of weakness.

The online newspaper Axios reported that “President Biden knows better than most that the ingredients for success in foreign diplomacy — nuance, compromise, patience — often are deeply incompatible with domestic political demands.” It is in some ways a variation on Teddy Roosevelt’s advice to “speak softly and carry a big stick.”

His predecessor, Donald Trump, an almost certain contender in next year’s election, uses direct and open threats, with no political solution for the affected. According to U.S. media, Biden publicly supported Israel in the face of the crisis that was created after at least 1,000 militants of Hamas, the political-military organization ruling the territory of Gaza, attacked Israel by surprise on Oct. 7, killing more than 1,400 Israeli civilians and seizing 240 hostages.

The attack, defined as a terrorist action, had a political motivation: To be a reminder of the situation of the Palestinians and their interests, especially in view of the constant pressure of Israeli expansionists in the Palestinian territories, while negotiations to normalize relations between Israel and several Arab countries — also sponsored by the U.S. — were taking place.

Biden’s public support for Israel, motivated by domestic politics, did not prevent him from putting private pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has his own motivations for presenting a tough face: from support for illegal settlements in Palestinian territories by his supporters to accusations of alleged corruption that threaten his political life and even his freedom.

One of the conditions demanded by Biden was the participation of the Palestinians in the solution to the problem, despite Netanyahu’s objections to the alleged creation of a state ruled by Hamas. There are many other aspects, from Iranian backing for Hamas and the Islamic militant organization Hezbollah in Lebanon, and its politico-religious competition with Saudi Arabia, to Turkey’s geopolitical aspirations and the intervention of minor groups, such as the Houthi rebels in Yemen, who aspire to exert influence.

In that framework, the U.S. media reports, Biden set up a top-secret negotiating group working with Israel and Qatar. But that is a more recent example of a style that leads him to soften economic sanctions against Venezuela or China in exchange for concessions that always come out of publicly polite conversations.

Public support and private pressure. That’s Biden’s game and a style to remember.

About this publication

About Stephen Routledge 173 Articles
Stephen is the Head of a Portfolio Management Office (PMO) in a public sector organisation. He has over twenty years experience in project, programme and portfolio management, leading various major organisational change initiatives. He has been invited to share his knowledge, skills and experience at various national events. Stephen has a BA Honours Degree in History & English and a Masters in Human Resource Management (HRM). He has studied a BSc Language Studies Degree (French & Spanish) and is currently completing a Masters in Translation (Spanish to English). He has been translating for more than ten years for various organisations and individuals, with a particular interest in science and technology, poetry and literature, and current affairs.

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