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What are the global consequences of Washington's staunch support for Israel?


The majority of the U.N.'s member states, 153 out of 193, voted for a cease-fire in the war between Israel and Hamas during Tuesday's emergency session of the United Nations General Assembly. UNGA President Dennis Francis pleaded with the delegates to support the resolution.


DENNIS FRANCIS: In the name of humanity, I ask you all once again, stop this violence now.

MARTIN: The resolution was adopted, but it is nonbinding, and the U.S. voted against it. Last week, a binding resolution for a cease-fire failed in the Security Council when the U.S., acting alone, vetoed it. Yesterday, President Biden said Israel risks losing international support over the way it is conducting its military campaign in Gaza. But that invites the question if the U.S.'s unwavering support for Israel is isolating the U.S. We wanted to consider that and what the implications of that might be for future peace efforts in the region. We called Fawaz Gerges for this. He is a professor of international relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Welcome. Thank you for joining us.

FAWAZ GERGES: Good morning.

MARTIN: So talk about that. I mean, we've put the question to you. How is the U.S. being viewed in this moment, not just within Gaza, but among U.S. allies in the Islamic world?

GERGES: Well, if you ask me really to summarize the situation, it would be the U.S. versus the world - 154 nations voted for a cease-fire. Only 10 nations voted against it, including the United States. I don't think, really, that President Biden and his operators in the White House and the State Department and the Defense departments appreciate the political and strategic and moral damage that they inflict on U.S. foreign policy. I think throughout the region in the Middle East and in the Global South beyond the Middle East, I think they view the U.S. as not only complicit in the war itself in Gaza but as a direct participant. They say people - I mean, this is - you ask anyone in the Middle East, and they say American bombs, American missiles, American money, American drones over Gaza, American political backing, American vetoes. More than any other president in U.S. history, more than any other president in U.S. modern history, President Biden is seen as actively supporting Israel's ethnic cleansing in Gaza on such a vast scale.

MARTIN: So let me ask you this. I mean, publicly, Arab leaders have expressed outrage about the death toll in Gaza, about Israel and the U.S.'s unwillingness to support a cease-fire. But it's clear that many Arab nations, such as Egypt, for example, don't want Hamas to remain in power. Is there a difference between what those leaders are saying publicly and what they're saying in private negotiations?

GERGES: Look, there is an Arab delegation. You know, there was an Arab League meeting and an Islamic meeting, and they sent a delegation to the United States and China and Russia and the U.K. and France for the members of the Security Council. Arab nations have been urging the United States to vote for a cease-fire because Arab nations know very much the implications of what's happening in Gaza on their own security and stability. I have never seen the region as implosive, as boiling. There is so much rage and anger, not only against Israel but against the United States, and pro-U.S. regimes fear that Gaza could really implode their own security and stability.

MARTIN: So what do you think the implications of this are? And let's - looking beyond the immediate conflict, which is difficult to do in the current moment, there are lots of questions about...

GERGES: Look...

MARTIN: ...Who will govern Gaza after the war. The U.S. officials say they envision Gaza and the West Bank being overseen by unified government. Is that realistic, what you're telling - given what you're telling us now?

GERGES: Look, what's happening now is that Israel is breaking Gaza. Israel will own Gaza. Gaza will most likely haunt Israel and the United States for years to come, in the same way that Iraq and Afghanistan haunted American foreign policy for many years to come. Everyone is talking about the day after. But let's look, Michel, about what's happening. Twenty-thousand Palestinians have been killed so far, civilians - 18,000 plus 10,000 missing. Fifty-thousand Palestinians have been injured. One-point-nine million Palestinians - 1.9 million Palestinians, 85% of Palestinian populations - have been displaced. Gaza itself now is unlivable and inhabitable.

So the - everyone is talking about, I mean, the day after, while the entire world is talking about really the fear of mass displacement, the fear of genocide, the fear of ethnic cleansing - and that's what the United States doesn't get. You have to stop the killing. You have to really basically prevent a catastrophe, not only in Gaza, but also this catastrophe could easily implode the pro-U.S. regional order and have major implications for U.S. foreign policy in particular if the war continues.

MARTIN: I understand what you're saying, Professor, but my question to you is that there are things that these countries could do if they wanted to express their opposition more forcefully. They could stop buying U.S. weapons. They could raise oil prices. They could tell the U.S. to get troops out of their countries. They haven't done any of those things. So what does that...

GERGES: Absolutely.

MARTIN: ...Suggest? What does that suggest, though? Does it suggest that there's a difference...

GERGES: What it suggests is that...

MARTIN: ...Between what the leadership - forgive me, what the leadership believes and what the street believes?

GERGES: They're beholden to American foreign policy. They're depending - they're dependent on American security umbrella. They don't really have the guts to really challenge American foreign policy. But what's happening also - we need to take into account that the United States is humiliating, insulting its Arab allies in the region, whether you're talking about the Egyptians, the Jordanians. I cannot tell you what Arab officials say in private. They're terrified that what's really happening in Gaza will not remain in Gaza. And they basically say that the United States doesn't care, does not listen to them. I mean, the United States not only doesn't care about its Arab allies. It doesn't care about the world.

MARTIN: And what...

GERGES: We're talking about 154 nations. I mean, United Nations humanitarian officials have been begging the United States. They're talking about a catastrophe, one of the greatest humanitarian catastrophes in modern times.

MARTIN: And what would you recommend that the United States do at this point? You know, forgive me, you only have 30 seconds.

GERGES: Michel, now in the short term, a cease-fire. The killing must stop. In the midterm and the short term, the United States should stop talking about a two-state solution and recognize Palestine as a state and accept Palestine as a member of the United Nations. Let's not really pay lip service to the idea of a two-state solution. Let's really activate this particular idea.

MARTIN: Fawaz Gerges is a professor of international relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He's the author of a number of books about the Middle East. Professor, thank you for sharing these insights with us.

GERGES: Thank you for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Michel Martin is the weekend host of All Things Considered, where she draws on her deep reporting and interviewing experience to dig in to the week's news. Outside the studio, she has also hosted "Michel Martin: Going There," an ambitious live event series in collaboration with Member Stations.