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Prof. ST Hsieh

Director, US-China Energy Industry Forum

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January 4, 2024

It is personal! It may not be totally fair, but leaders of these wars bear the most responsibility. President Biden is responsible for the proxy war in Ukraine: his goal is to degrade Russia and Putin, but he has no clear exit strategy. As such, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky becomes the “pallbearer” of those fallen Ukrainians who sacrificed for nothing so far. Zelensky has no military background or leadership, he has to be replaced and someone else will have to negotiate a cease fire that can lead to a truce.

The Israel-Hamas conflict will not end as long as Bibi is in charge of Israel. The people in Israel have to relieve Bibi and replace him with someone who is genuinely committed for a peaceful settlement with Palestine state. Israel’s new leader also has to take an active role to deliver the two-state solution. It is not easy, but the current war in Gaza will destroy both Israel and Palestine: they will fight and kill each other to the end. Worse, the bloody war will spill over and expand in the region even to the world.

President Biden is not to blame for starting the Israel-Hamas conflict, he is not capable even if he tries. But his responses after the conflict broke out have been disastrous: his approach even divided US society further.

There is one chance that these two wars could end soon: President Biden should renounce his reelection bid as soon as possible, then he could focus his energy on healing the US as well as mediating the cease fires in Ukraine and Israel. He can finish these tasks even after he leaves the Whit House in 2025 to build his legacy as a real global leader.

Fantasy, Illusion and Reality in Two Wars 

BY L. MICHAEL HAGER, Counter Punch, JANUARY 4, 2024

Wars seem to breed fantasy: hero worship, victory parades, exuberant patriotism, or “a war to end all wars.” Such fantasies are usually based on inflated expectations, grand illusions, or outright lies.

Like those defeated generals before them, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have both pursued illusory paths–with U.S. President Joe Biden tagging along behind them.

The U.S. and NATO helped Ukraine rightfully and successfully defend Russia’s attack on Kiev in February and March 2022.  However, the existential war for national survival transformed into a contest over long-disputed land in the southern and eastern regions. A failed Ukraine counterattack last summer morphed into a continuing stalemate, with heavy losses on both sides.

Rather than agree to a ceasefire or invoke diplomacy to settle territorial claims, Zelensky has held fast to his top two strategic goals: expulsion of all Russian troops and recovery of Crimea. Such prospects are an illusion. How can Ukraine expect to achieve such a vision of success when it faces an enemy four times its size and confronts its own manpower shortfall.

Until declining weapons support from the West causes him to rethink his goals, Zelensky will likely remain in the grip of illusion.  His valent troops will continue to die on the battlefield and in the trenches.

Following the brutal and inexcusable massacre of Israeli civilians by

Hamas militants on October 7, Netanyahu announced as his primary goal the total elimination of Hamas in Gaza. Unlike Zelensky in Ukraine, Bibi must have known that his stated goal was illusory. How could such a deeply entrenched organization as Hamas, with its thousands of active militants either comingled with innocent civilians above ground or concealed underground in miles of deep tunnels, be “eliminated?

The Israeli leader must have realized that his purported vision was in fact an illusion; that the intended but unannounced purpose of his invasion of Gaza was the complete elimination of Palestinians there.

Evidence of such intention may be found in the relentless IDF bombing, shelling, and sniping in all parts of the Strip; the repeated use of unguided bombs and bunker busters in crowded spaces; the frequent bombardment of hospitals, schools, libraries, mosques, churches, refugee camps and humanitarian facilities; the targeting of journalists, medical personnel, and intellectuals; a siege that has almost entirely eliminated civilian access to clean water, food and other necessities of life; and forced evacuations that have relocated most of the 2.2 million Palestinians to confined areas near the Rafah border with Egypt.

Even the Egyptian army could hardly restrain a border breach by more than a million desperate Gazans seeking food and safety.  The most likely outcome would seem to be the forced relocation of the expelled Palestinians to a desert camp in the Sinai.  Then the crafty Netanyahu can claim credit for reenacting the 1948 Nakba. 

For his part, U.S. President Joe Biden has fully bought into both illusions, without any apparent recognition of the realities in either Ukraine or Gaza.  In Ukraine, he continues to advocate for more weapons to help Ukraine pursue its illusion of victory over Russia.  In the Gaza war, Biden seems to accept at face value Israel’s publicly stated illusion of eliminating Hamas.  Accordingly, he continues his cheek-by-jowl support of Netanyahu.  He continues to supply offensive arms that kill women and children; and he continues to defend Israel in the United Nations.

America’s proxy war against Russia in Ukraine costs Zelensky the lives of his soldiers. America’s enabling of Netanyahu not only costs civilian lives in Gaza, but also risks regional conflict. More importantly for the longer term, it undermines the international rule of law established with U.S. leadership after the Second World War and it establishes a dangerous precedent for lawless behavior.

When the illusions of the three leaders are exposed, reality will overtake fantasy.

L. Michael Hager is cofounder and former Director General, International Development Law Organization, Rome.

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