In normal times, domestic political disputes over foreign policy fall more or less along a conventional left-right divide.
These are not normal times.
The right largely agrees on the need to support Israel in its war with Hamas, but is increasingly divided over supporting Ukraine in its war with Russia. The left largely agrees on the need to help Ukraine, but is more divided on siding with Israel.
It’s not perfectly symmetrical. Democrats are more united on Israel, in part because of unequivocal support from President Joe Biden. But it’s early. Ultimately, the story of the Democratic Party’s resistance to campus radicals and the “antiwar” left is not a story of heroic determination. And the fact that the university response to a terrorist pogrom was to immediately express support for the Palestinians does not mean that the left fringe will shift to a more nuanced stance.
Even though Republicans are united in their support for Israel – to the point where even many America First supporters have abandoned any foreign policy consequence to show solidarity with Israel – there is a prevailing attitude on the fringes, particularly socially Media, skepticism about support for Israel is already growing.
In some of the swampier neighborhoods, open anti-Semitism is coming to light. And Donald Trump, who has long boasted of doing more for Israel than anyone since Moses, is suddenly celebrating how “very smart” Hezbollah is and insulting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (though that doesn’t mean he isn’t). deserved criticism). not from Trump).
Given the greenhouse effect of a presidential election, it does not seem unreasonable to imagine support for Israel on the new right and the “anti-Zionist” left melting away as Biden increasingly identifies with supporting Israel.
In short, within the confines of domestic politics, this is a two-front war. What I think many people miss is that there is a two-front war beyond the water.
There has been an intense and bizarre debate about Iran’s complicity in the Hamas attack. Iran has supported Hamas for decades. Whether she officially ordered or authorized the invasion beforehand hardly erases her guilt. If you retain assassins who vow to kill Israelis, it is hardly an outrageous slander to say that you bear some responsibility if they do the very thing you put them on the payroll to do.
The more important question is Russia’s involvement. Russia’s disastrous war against Ukraine has brought the country ever closer to Iran, which supplies it with drones and other weapons. Both heavily sanctioned pariah states rely on oil revenues to stay afloat. Global instability keeps petrodollars flowing. There is no evidence that Russia gave the green light to the attack, but it is clear that Putin is benefiting from a war in the Middle East that is diverting Western attention and resources.
Why give him the victory he wants?
Ukraine, which has expressed support for Israel, certainly sees clearly what is at stake. President Volodymyr Zelensky even wants to visit Israel as a sign of solidarity.
Opponents of aid to Ukraine reject any connection between Israel and Ukraine – be it legislative, strategic or moral. Forty-eight hours after the Hamas attack, Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, stressed: “Israel faces an existential threat. Any funds for Ukraine should be immediately redirected to Israel.” The populist Heritage Foundation said: “Lawmakers must resist attempts to link emergency military aid to Israel with additional funding for Ukraine. “These conflicts are separate and distinct.”
Looking at both conflicts from a party-political perspective shows how partisanship in one’s own country can blind one’s view of the bigger picture. These are two fronts in largely the same fight. Both Israel and Ukraine are flawed but decent democracies facing enemies seeking to wipe them off the map. Israel may be a more historic ally than Ukraine, but its enemies are allies with common interests.
Putting aside all other obvious moral and strategic considerations, America simply has a vital interest in maintaining its credibility to meet its obligations not only to Ukraine and Israel, but also to our broader coalition of allies.
After 9/11, NATO stood behind us. Now NATO needs our help to address the threat on its doorstep. And we may need NATO if Iran decides to join the fight in Israel. God knows China is waiting to see if we will back down while it considers its options for taking Taiwan.
None of this requires American troops on the ground in Israel or Ukraine. Both countries are ready to fight and die; What they want is help in a war on two fronts.
Jonah Goldberg is editor-in-chief of The Dispatch and host of The Remnant podcast